Practical Brand Bonsai

Ah, bonsai. The ancient Japanese art of strategically mutilating helpless flora. I can practically hear their haunting cries every time I watch The Karate Kid (the original, obviously). Macabre though it may be, there are things that bonsai can teach startups and newly-minted entrepreneurs about how to manage their brand.


Patience & Discipline

Building an effective and recognized brand takes time and effort. No matter how good your logo and brand identity are, you have to be prepared to accept years of obscurity and public indifference. Your brand is not to blame - it's just that there are so many others competing for people's attention.

The thing to remember is to not lose faith or panic. Changing your brand essentially puts you back to square one, and should only be considered in the most dire of circumstances. The 'pivot' strategy can work for your business plan, but applying the same tactic to brand identity is risky beyond all reason. Keep putting your brand out there strategically and confidently, warts and all, and one day your persistence will pay dividends.


Attention to Detail

When building a brand, whether you're an underfunded startup or a venture capital juggernaut, sustained attention to detail is crucial. I'm not talking about a perfectly designed business card or agonizing over which font to use for the company newsletter.

I'm talking about what clothes your staff (and you!) are wearing when a client or customer visits the office. If they're wearing old jeans and death metal t-shirts, is that reinforcing or undermining your brand? It all depends on the identity you're trying to build, but for most businesses that particular combo is not going to send the right signal.

Have you thought about how your staff answer the phone? How they sign off after a sale? The sights, sounds and smells of the space in which you do business? The Brand Bonsai Master has thought of all these things.


A Long-Term Approach

Do bonsai-ists hack off those little branches on a whim? Of course they don't. Nothing is done on a whim in bonsai, and your brand identity should be treated the same way. Don't be tempted to tweak your identity to capitalize on a passing trend. Think about where you want your brand to be in 5 years time, not 5 months.

Anchoring your brand identity to a long-term vision helps to ensure consistency and credibility. It also takes all the doubt out of making decisions about how you should promote and position your business. Brand Bonsai Master says 'yes'!


If you're starting a business and appreciate the value of effective brand identity, take a look at Brandsworth's Startup Identity Package, and discover the affordable branding agency for startups in Wales.