As a designer, I appreciate that more small business owners understand the importance of giving their brand a consistent look. But, as I tell my clients (and anyone else who will listen), a brand is SO much more than a logo.
Often, someone will call me excited to get started on their visual brand identity or logo without actually being ready. The truth is that the path to a meaningful brand identity begins way before you call a graphic designer.
You don't want a brand that's all flash and no substance. To have staying power, everyone involved in your business needs to understand who you are, who you serve, and why you do what you do. Plus, having essential pieces of your brand strategy defined before you work with a designer will help the visual brand creation process be much more effective.
If you want to build a brand the smart way, here’s the order of operations I suggest:
1) Write a business plan.
A business plan is a must when applying for funding, but it's also a necessary guiding document that helps you understand your own business better. The process of writing your plan will force you to examine your competition, understand your target market, and get specific about your goals. You can get help from plenty of free resources online or connect with an organization like The Center for Women & Enterprise, Clark University Small Business Center, or SCORE for guidance.
2) Define your brand messaging.
Today’s customers want to associate with brands that share their values. These same customers also expect a consistent, personal experience whenever they interact with you. Defining your mission statement, vision statement, brand values, and other messaging elements is crucial to staying true to yourself and setting yourself apart from the competition.
3) Dive into design.
NOW it's my turn at last! Once you have your business plan and brand messaging established, you've laid the perfect foundation for a designer's work to begin. All of the work you did will help the visual brand identity process go much more smoothly. Defining what you stand for will also result in a more meaningful logo that integrates with the rest of your brand.
Have questions? Need a referral for help with your brand messaging or business plan? Want to get your visual brand identity project booked in advance before you start working on these other pieces?