At Brandsworth, we absolutely love logos. At their best, they represent effective design in its simplest, purest form. They have the power to communicate the essence of a brand or an idea at a glance. Developing a logo is one of the most challenging and satisfying aspects of developing brand identity, and certainly the most exciting for a new business owner, but it's important to remember that it's also a symbol, a visual shorthand representing something deeper - the tip of the brand identity iceberg, if you will.
A logo is the most obvious and accessible aspect of brand identity, so it's quite easy to get caught up in the idea that it's the most important aspect, or even that it is the brand identity in itself. To demonstrate why this isn't the case, here are 3 brand elements that a startup company needs to consider before the logo designer even puts pen to paper.
1) A Great Name
One of the reasons that logos are the most relatable aspect of brand identity is because we humans are a very visual species. Our vision is our most developed sense, and we tend to rely on the information received by our eyes to make sense of the world. However, we are also a very verbal species, moreso than any other animal on the planet by quite some margin. The spoken and written word form the bulk of our communication, and effective communication is ultimately what brand identity is all about.
For that reason, having an effective name for your business is even more crucial than having a handsome looking logo. If you take a few moments to think about it, the reasons are obvious. People remember the 20th century's famous speeches and can repeat many of the key quotes word for word, but how many people remember what clothes the speakers were wearing? When you're raving to a friend about a new restaurant you've discovered, do you describe the logo, or do you simply tell them its name?
If you want people to remember your business and drive word of mouth promotion, having the right name is vital. It needs to be meaningful, distinctive, memorable and easy to pronounce. In it's own way, developing an effective business name is as much a design challenge as developing a logo.
2) A Strong Vision
As an entrepreneur and business founder, you probably already have a lot of drive, passion and great ideas, but can you summarise your vision for the business in a single sentence? Is it a vision that will encourage the same passion in others, or is its meaning exclusive to you? Will it give your team something to aspire to, and your customers something to truly connect with? Does it give your business a star to navigate by?
One of the functions of a logo is to communicate the spirit of a brand, and nothing summarises that spirit better than a clear vision. If you don't already have a rich and meaningful vision statement in place by the time you start designing a logo, then the design will be weaker for it. Some business owners find the idea of a vision statement 'cheesy' and irrelevant, and unfortunately the generally poor quality of vision statements fuels this view. It's a shame that so many businesses treat the vision statement as frivolous window dressing to fill their website's About Us page, rather than as the inspirational guiding light it's meant to be. In the hands of a talented and experienced copywriter who has a solid understanding of the brand, a vision statement enriches brand identity and culture in ways that a logo can't.
3) Meaningful Values
Values fulfill a similar role to a vision statement, but whereas the vision statement is meant to elevate a business over the long term, a meaningful set of values that are shared and understood by everyone on the payroll will pay dividends every single day. Again, brand values are often dismissed as pointless due to frequent misuse and perfunctory implementation. When I see an organisation list 'professionalism' as one of it's 'values' I feel like throwing something out of a window - professionalism should be a given in any professional context, and any business that feels the need to spell it out presumably has nothing unique or meaningful to say.
The purpose of a set of brand values is to show both your staff and your customers what kind of organisation you are, and indicate the moral, ethical and social parameters within which you operate. They give clear guidance to employees on how they need to conduct themselves in order to maintain the integrity of the brand. They help customers to determine whether your organisation connects with their own values, and initiate the process by which customers will engage with your brand on a long term basis. They also set a standard by which customers can measure your performance and (hopefully) conclude that you've done a good job.
A logo can't achieve these things. What it can do is serve as an instantly recognisable symbol of what your values are, rekindling those feelings of engagement and satisfaction in your customers whenever they see it. Strong values, adhered to every day, will enhance the meaning and power of your logo over time - but the values have to be there first.
If you're starting a business and appreciate the value of effective brand identity, explore the Brandsworth website and discover the affordable branding agency for startups in Wales.