I hear it all the time: "I want to build my passion into a business but I don't know where to begin the creative part!" You might already have a name in mind for your budding business idea (or maybe not!) and you know you need a logo but then what? Is anyone still using business cards? What about social media? What do you need to get your brand looking legit?
I start at the VERY beginning of the visual things you need to think about, research and start doing in order to jump into building what your business should look like! If you're interested in learning more about this topic, be sure to check out my free ebook. It's full of worksheets, helpful website links and more info about how to create a company name and logo and how to brand yourself through social media and print marketing materials.
But, before creative starts, you need to do a little research.
To begin any kind of creative, whether it be a logo, a flyer or a website, you have to ask some essential questions related to where you're at in the creative process. Since this is all about the VERY beginning of creative, I'll start out with a couple essential questions:
1. What is your company’s mission? Why are you doing what you’re doing?
You may think, well duh, I already know this about my business. But getting it down on paper and having it within view each day keeps you grounded and focused on your company's culture and persona which will help guide you in every aspect of your business.
2. What qualities do you want your customers to associate with your company?
When a customer interacts with your business, do you want them to think about times gone by? Do you want them to feel secure or relieved that they've found your product? Do you want them to feel like a kid again? Think about the possible visuals that may go in tandem with the answers to these types of questions and you'll begin to realize that you're starting the brainstorming process of a visual style for your company.
While these types of questions may seem more business and strategy related, they are also essential in getting your creative juices flowing that ultimately help define your company branding. Other questions like what are the benefits of your product or service, what logos or websites do you admire and what colors do you think appropriately relay what your company is about are all things to consider in this research phase.
Brainstorming a Name
If you don't yet have a company name, I have a couple ways to get ideas flowing. The first way is to get a word web going. If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you may know what I'm talking about. This is a branching out of various words or phrases that originate from a central concept or word. Using a guide like the one below might help you discover words that could develop into a company name.
Another idea to expand this brainstorming process is to look at other languages for unique, meaningful words. In my ebook, I talk about a client of mine that was starting a European style, glass-blown ornament company and they looked to the French word for "desire/wish" to name their company. This was completely appropriate considering they were creating heirloom pieces that would be gifted for all sorts of special occasions.
Your Logo - The Most Important Visual of Your Company
Your logo starts the visual personality of your company. It shouldn't be generic and should be professional and treated as the important icon it is. It's the most essential graphic you will develop and your brand will be built starting with this one important visual. Resist the urge to go cheap. Your logo needs to accurately reflect your company and the most honest way to do that is to employ a professional with branding experience. A qualified logo/brand designer should ask questions about your company’s purpose and future and learn about the business goals, your competitors and gain an understanding of what visual thoughts you may have for your brand. Upon completion of the logo, the designer should deliver the basic file formats (JPG, PNG, EPS) and should also provide the alternative orientation of your logo (meaning, if your final logo is horizontal, they should also create a portrait version which is best suited for social profile picts). If my clients don’t have the budget for a full brand guideline book, I like to provide them with a brand guide sheet. It basically outlines the essential elements of their logo (colors, fonts and best practices) and also includes how and where to use each file format.
Starting a Visual Brand Foundation
Because of how quickly you can get up and running and engaging with your audience online, it might be easier to start the development of your website before (or in tandem) with any print materials you feel you need in the beginning. At the very least, you should still print some business cards. Even if your business will be primarily online, you will still be networking in person and other businesses need your contact info. Your business card and your website will begin the visual brand foundation for many future marketing pieces so it’s important, once again, to call on a professional to help create how your logo, colors, fonts and verbiage will connect with your ideal customer. Social media is another key factor in building your visual brand and engagment. You don’t have to be on all platforms but see where your ideal customer hangs out and put your time there. Continue a consistent brand message with the same writing voice, same graphics, colors and style of photography that you’ve used on your website.
No matter if your business is based online or not, you will most likely need a few printed materials at some point. Whether it be for a trade show, event or promotion, you may want to think about developing the following print (or emailable PDF) materials. If you are primarily online, you should consider developing a PR or media kit. Typically formatted as a multi-page PDF file you can email, this kit gives anyone who wants to talk about or promote your business or products all the necessary info they need to tell your story. If you plan to sell or promote your services or goods in shops or at community events, you may want to think about having an official branded stationery system (along with a business card, this includes letterhead and matching envelope). Flyers, brochures or postcards may also be useful to promote or announce special services, product launches or events in which your business plans to attend. Be sure these materials contain your logo and contact info, your brand pitch (a short message describing your company’s focus and purpose and how it will benefit the customer) and any graphics or photography that help illustrate the purpose of the piece. Just remember to keep consistent with the look and style in every visual piece you create so that your customers recognize your brand and company, no matter the marketing venue you’ve chosen.
If you want more in-depth info, helpful website links and more resources on how to get started with your visual branding, download my free ebook now!
If all this just sounds like too much to take on and you need a bit more help, connect with me for a free consultation!
Questions or comments? Please feel free to comment below!