Branding is a tricky beast. It is something we all know that companies need to do, but many people can’t really be bothered with. It’s a whole heap of stuff you don’t want to deal with when you are starting up your company. You have so much other stuff to do; taxes, insurance, sorting stock, making the product, everything under the sun. You can deal with branding some other time, after all its just a logo, right?
Well, not really. The logo is the poster child for branding, for sure. It’s normally where people start, and sometimes where they end. But you need to consider the point of branding. Recognition and representation. You want people to see anything that you are involved in and instantly know that it belongs to you. You also want people to understand what it is you do, and the company values at the same time.
When we break it down, branding starts with the choice of company name, which then leads to the logo, and then the rest of the branding process.
Joe Bloggs -Mechanic
By way of example, say you are a mechanic. You call your self Joe Bloggs Auto Repair, and there is a car on your logo. By using your name, you project a more personal service, and it says auto repairs in the name and a car as part of the logo. It’s simple, but it works.
But say the same guy calls his company Diesel Repairs. That sounds more rugged and macho. Maybe he only does 4x4s, or maybe only cars with diesel engines. But, on the logo is a green leaf. That looks odd right? A green leaf signifies that he maybe only does electric or hybrid cars, maybe he doesn’t even fix cars, maybe he repairs some sort of eco machinery or farming equipment.
The point is, you need to take a step back. The design with the leaf and the name Diesel Repairs could look and sound awesome (I mean, it doesn’t, but let’s pretend), but you need to ask yourself, do they work together? Do they reference my core beliefs and those of my business? Are they going to attract the right sort of customers? Are they going to confuse people?
If you are going through the process alone, then these are the type of things you should be asking yourself. Then take your ideas and ask your family, and friends and people on the street. Don’t let them just say ‘yeah, I like it’, get them to guess what the company does before telling them, ask them if it is the type of company they would use.
If you are able to afford to hire a designer to do the work for you, these are the question they will be asking as they work on the project. A designer will have faced these issues time and time again, whereas you may be new to this kind of problem. That’s why it’s always a good idea to hire a designer if you can and it’s a good idea to listen to them, as if they say that an idea is confusing to the consumer, then they know what they are talking about. On your head be it if you choose to ignore them.
One issue that people frequently forget about when branding a new business is individuality. If you think up a cool sounding name, you need to take the time for due diligence, to see if anyone else has thought of it before. ‘Waves’ could be the perfect name for your new surf shop on the Cornish Coast, but a quick Google search will probably show you that there are half a dozen other places called ‘Waves’ within 50 miles; ranging from surf shops and schools, gift shops and probably swimming pools and the like. Your surf shop could be the best and waviest, but it will get lost on in a google search and confused by customers trying to find you. But maybe there isn’t anywhere else called ‘Breakers’ or ‘Rip Tide’ or ‘Ocean Swell’, all names that are just as ‘rad’ and ‘knarley’ (feel like I nailed the surfer lingo there) but maybe more individually recognisable.
There are real world examples of companies choosing slightly out-there names to help stand out. In fact it happens all the time these days. ‘Google’ is a prime example, as is ‘MoonPig’. These names don’t actually tell you what the company does, but they are unique and memorable. They have simply worked that bit harder on marketing and advertising to cement that ‘Google means search’ and ‘Moon Pig means Cards’ in the public subconscious.
An accountant, a party planner and a stationer walk into a bar...
It is definitely a tricky balance between being a bit dull and outright saying what you do and being unique enough to be memorable. And it will change depending on the industry. Nobody minds an accountant call J. Smith Accounting, because you are looking for a straightforward person to do your taxes for you. Simple is good, no whacky names, or fonts, just and the name does the trick. But J. ‘Smith Party Planners’ needs some jazzing up. You want some excitement, some colour and maybe some more creativity in the name for that.
Of course, in many industries, you can make the choice of where to sit on that spectrum, based on the client you are looking to attract. ‘J. Jones Stationers’ stocks oil paints and fountain pens, but ‘Rebel Art Supplies’ further down the street, has bright coloured makers pens and spray paints.
There is always wiggle room as you move forward with a business to adjust your course to target new markets. It is just so much easier to get it done right from the get-go to give yourself a much smoother launch.
I’m Alex Dyett
I am a freelance Graphic Designer and Photographer, and Flickering Light Studio is my company. I live in York, UK, with my wife and daughter.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you some inspiration to go out and tell your business’s story with great design and eye-catching images. Take a look at the other blog posts to get some more ideas, and if there is anything that you feel I could help you with, please feel free to contact me, and I will be happy to work on a project with you.