Welcome back to our ‘brand basics’ blog series, where we’re guiding you through some of the fundamentals of business branding for IoT start-ups. Click here to read the first blog, which looked at the processes you should go through before developing a new brand. In this blog, we’re moving on to defining and building the look and feel of a new brand.
For a lot of new business directors, developing how their new brand looks – elements like logos, and fonts, and colours – as well as the associated feelings it should stir in its audiences – is both hugely exciting, and somewhat overwhelming. Exciting, because it makes the new business start to seem incredibly tangible and real. And, after all, making decisions around how something looks can seem more interesting than poring over pages of spreadsheets… And overwhelming, because unless you happen to have a design or artistic background, all these decisions can make you feel something like a fish out of water.
Indeed, many new business owners are sadly guilty of making poor decisions around the look and feel of their new brand. For many entrepreneurs, graphic designers and other branding experts are the first ‘third parties’ they employ to help develop aspects of the new company. It can be a difficult process, relinquishing the close control they have had up until that point, and trusting a new partner with a vital aspect of their business idea. But it’s an essential process.
Here are some of the things you need to think about.
The right expert help
Design is never something you should cut corners on, but particularly when it’s a case of setting out the design parameters from which the rest of your business will flow, it’s absolutely vital to get it right. And usually, this means paying for expert help – not going to your neighbour’s nephew who’s at Art College because he’ll be cheap.
However, that’s not to say that you need to go to the most expensive graphic design agency in town. Rather, your best bet is to speak to a variety of designers, both agencies and individual freelancers, asking to see both samples of their existing work and a specific proposal for what they’d do for you. You’re looking for imagination and a good eye, of course – but you’re also looking for business acumen and a great understanding of the IoT sector. It is vital for your designer to understand the trends, nuances and protocols of the IoT industry, so ideally you want them to have direct experience in working for a similar company. That said, since IoT is still in its infancy direct experience is probably too much to ask but you want your designer to at least have a rudimentary understanding of IoT.
And of course, it goes without saying that you should like their work! You should think it looks good – but you should also think that it works effectively to communicate the personality and goals of their clients. These are two different things. Try to assess them separately.
All in the brief
Briefs are the building blocks of all good design – and this is why our previous blog, advising you on the basics to get right before you start developing your brand – is so important. It is impossible to provide a useful and comprehensive design brief if you are not clear on who your audience is, what your products and services are, and what makes you special. These factors have a huge bearing on design decisions. They feed into the personality of your business – whether it is serious or playful, challenging or quirky, whether it is trading primarily on trust, or innovation, or creativity, or something else entirely.
Don’t worry about how to develop a briefing document itself – this is something your chosen designer should be able to assist you with. But certainly arm yourself with all of the information you can get your hands on. A briefing process should feel like an intense interview, a list of questions you had never even considered being asked.
For many new entrepreneurs, the desire to look and feel different from everyone else can be enormous. After all, they understand just how unique and special their business is – everyone needs to know that just from looking at the brand, right?
However, it is important to get the balance right between standing out in your marketplace and looking and feeling different for difference’s sake. Too many start-up owners insist to their designers that they want to look different from everybody else – without considering that there might be a very good reason why all of their competitors look and feel similarly to each other.