You have a great business idea, you’ve written your business plan, and now you’ve engaged a graphic designer to design your logo- but stop! A logo does not represent your culture, your people, or your story, and no, it does not legitimize your business. So let’s take a step back from the tantalizing draw of having a shiny new logo.
What makes you personally go back to a company time and time again? It sure as hell isn’t their logo, but it could be one of many other, less seemingly tangible, things. For instance, it can be the trust you have in their service, their reputation, the culture, the values of the company or what they stand for. When these qualities are defined, organized and aligned into a business strategy, they then
represent a “brand,” and when combined with confidence, clarity and consistency, you’re on the road
to building a successful brand. Once you have a brand in place, your logo is merely an associator, a clear and easily recognizable mark that represents your brand in your target audiences mind.
How, then, do you define your brand? I suggest you “start with why.” Simon Sinek has coined this phrase (see www.startwithwhy.com), and it’s a great place to start. Why are you building this business? “To make money” isn’t a response that will drive loyalty or inspire you, your employees or your customers. Find a greater cause or belief, and let that be your guiding principle. You believe you can change the world, or you want everyone to have access to creative education- whatever your cause may be, find a genuine reason that will make you want to get out of bed and make it happen; something your people and your customers can get behind.
One way to approach this is to make a vision board filled with words, pictures, and drawings that resonate with your business. Ask yourself questions like: why did I want to start a business? What motivates me? What does success look like for me, my customers, and my employees? This might seem a little fluffy, but understanding the essence of a company is at the heart of branding. But your “why” has to be genuine, something that you can truly live as an organization.