Why your start-up needs brand guidelines to succeed.
In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased their goods or services online. This figure will continue to grow, so brand identity will become more and more crucial in order to differentiate yourself from the millions of other companies on the internet.
How do you as a modern-day start-up create a consistent brand that engages, inspires and encourages loyalty? The answer lies in a solid brand that differentiates from the competition. Defining your brand takes time but can be simple if you follow the right steps and setting your company set a of brand guidelines to live by.
What are brand guidelines?
Brand guidelines covers all aspects of your brand’s personality and visual identity, including your name as well as your brand style, values, typography, colours, logo and mission. It will also focus on your archetype, tone, persona, tagline, and story.
Documenting your brand guidelines early on gives you a unique and coherent vision of what your brand looks like to others whilst ensuring that you’ve asked all of the right questions about what you stand for and how you want to be seen.
It may sound like a lot to consider but branding can be simple if you focus on the right things first. Here at Venture, we’ve made life simple for you. We’ve created a one-stop shop with step-by-step tools for creating and defining your brand. Our industry-ready design templates will help you to formalise your ideas and shape your vision into a clear brand identity and sound business concept.
We’ll help you to define why the world needs your company. You can get started with our Brand Book Generator here, but do continue reading below to understand why we prescribe completing your brand book in the order we recommend.
The logo can wait
You’re a budding entrepreneur, excited, enthusiastic and bubbling over with innovative ideas. The first thing you want to do is design your logo.
But, whoa! Hold your horses! In order to do this, you need to first have a clear idea of what makes you unique, how you want to be perceived and who your ideal audience is. Once you’ve built your brand’s foundation, it will be much easier for you to make design choices that complement and complete that picture.
So whilst your logo is important, it’s not the most important factor when establishing your brand.
Some 77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name (and what it represents).
Your company’s name is an important part of your company’s identity. Not only does it appear on your website, social media channels and all stationery, but it needs to be easily recognisable and reflect what you stand for.
Google, Apple, eBay, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Amazon, Spotify and Nike are some of the more noteworthy and recognisable names we know. These names are memorable, they’re one-word and often, they’re only two syllables. By creating a shorter, ‘punchier’ name, you’re more likely to be remembered. You can make something up, or create something completely new by combining two different words as done by Snapchat and Facebook.
Forbes has created a list of the most valuable brands in 2020 and whilst this is based on revenue; it’s interesting to note that the vast majority of these companies are one-word brands, and those that aren’t are usually named after people.
That said, you may want your company name to reflect what you actually do, which is perfectly acceptable. If you’re an accountant, proofreader or solicitor and you’re thinking of SEO and online searches, it may be more preferable for you to have a two-word name which includes what you do, so that people are more likely to find you when searching for your type of services. Or if you’re a company run by two different people; you may want to reflect this.
In the end, it’s up to you. But, try to think a little out-of-the-box so that you can be differentiated from all of the other companies out there offering similar products or services to you.
What do you stand for?
Your company values and beliefs also form a large part of your brand identity.
These days more than ever, it’s important to be seen as a ‘green’ company that has its roots in sustainability, the environment and supporting the community. These values are no longer just a matter of preference or good PR, they’re essential due to continuing changes in government legislation and fast-evolving public opinion.
More and more consumers are choosing to buy ethically. A recent report in 2020, published by IBM, indicated that nearly 6 in 10 consumers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact; and nearly 8 in 10 respondents indicated sustainability is important to them. And for those for whom it’s extremely important, 70% would pay a premium of 35%, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.
At Venture, we recommend that as part of building your brand foundation, you construct 3 core values that run through everything you do. These are the beliefs your brand lives by and why your customers will want to buy from you.
Once you’ve decided on your core values, this will help you to construct your mission statement. A mission statement is different from a vision statement, but they can be combined.
Your mission statement should reflect your business strategy and should answer these 4 questions:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- Whom do we do it for?
- What value are we bringing?
Every business needs a mission statement as it provides the framework and purpose for its employees and consumers, and explains why the company exists.
What does your brand say about you?
Once you’ve decided on a name and what your brand stands for, then you can start thinking about the design aspect of your new business.
But, before creating your logo, you need to think about how to define your brand’s unique style. Are you sticking with a professional look, or wanting to go for a more urban, vintage or even futuristic theme?
Your brand identity and personality will differentiate you from other businesses selling similar products or services. Think about the times where you’ve paid more for a product just because you liked the brand, even though you could have got the same item cheaper elsewhere.
It comes down to the fact, that people hate the idea of a faceless money-making corporation. They want to deal with people, and they resonate with the personality attributes we give to companies.
However, brand personality and identity are not always the same thing. Identity is often associated with ‘the voice’ of the brand as in its logo, style and colour choices. Brand personality is much more emotional and this is reflected by the human traits we give our brand, in response to its identity. Whatever happens, the two must be consistent and work together in everything you do.
If you’re struggling to figure out your brand identity, here at Venture, we recommend that you take a look at a brand in a different market segment to you, but which has similar values to you. Look at why it inspires trust in you and why you can relate to it. By understanding how that company has achieved its goal, you can use this as guidance for building your own brand identity.
Your brand theme will also include your choice of typography and fonts. These will be used across all of your communications, so they should be easy to read across a variety of different formats e.g. printed publications and on a range of electronic devices.
Finally, we got there! Only now is it time to start thinking about your logo. You have your company name; you understand your values and what you stand for. You know what makes you different and why people should buy from you. Now you’re ready to create your logo.
If you’ve already got some ideas on what your logo should look like – fantastic! If not, brainstorm with others including family and friends, as well as business partners. Even if some of the ideas aren’t so great, bouncing ideas around can often spark a conversation which leads to an excellent solution.
You’ll also need to think like your customers. You can make a list of words that describe your company or offering, and think about what would be important to your target demographic. You’ll need to consider how your business can be visualised in your logo.
Whilst you want to be different, be careful about picking anything that will quickly become outdated. Trendy logos can be fun and quirky, but classic and simple tells people that you are reliable and down-to-earth.
The psychology of colour
There’s been lot of research into colour psychology and what colours say about your brand. Whilst you may think it’s all hocus-pocus, there does seem to be consistent advice about the meanings behind why companies choose certain colours, so it’s definitely worth taking into consideration. Not forgetting that for different cultures, each colour holds different meanings, so you’ll need to bear this in mind when designing a logo.
Some examples have been given below – these may help you to see which brands you most relate to, and give you some ideas of the colours you might use:
Start creating your brand book today!
Style guides ensure that all of your designers, developers, marketers and writers are on the same page and have a framework to start from. A detailed brand book establishes a consistent message related to your brand’s goals, and will contain everything discussed above. Consistency in a brand is essential in order to build trust.
Get started with our Brand Book Generator here and if you need advice, we have a team on hand to answer your questions too.