Your Logo is Not Your Brand
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Nike? I think of "Just Do It" and Air Jordans before I think of the "swoosh" logo. What about McDonalds? Do you think of the "double arches" or the Big Mac, or the fact they are quick and convenient and have inexpensive food? Starbucks also comes to mind, their amazing over-priced (but worth it) coffee and great locations with accessible wifi signals and convenient drive thrus come to mind just as quickly as their green mermaid logo when they are mentioned. Every trait above was an example of excellent branding, so much more than just the logo of the company.
Branding is Culture and Reputation
Google is known as a fun, open-minded place to work, with people skateboarding from one part of the campus to another, open coworking pods, and open door management policies. Google is also known as a fun technology company, with exciting apps, great phones, a leading browser and a logo that changes on a whim! That is the "culture" at Google and the "reputation" of Google. The brand of Google. Now mind you, these things may or may not be correct but they are KNOWN in the marketplace, they are the brand...the representation of the company to the public.
Upbeat and positive and always professional.
High tech logo and the best website ever.
Always answers the phone on the first ring.
Returns my call within the hour every time without fail.
I get a follow up call after every service.
What do you want your company to be known for? THIS is the beginning of branding your company, not designing your logo. For example, if happy and friendly laughter are your brand, a geometric black and white logo is probably not right for you. If you want to be seen as corporate, professional and reliable, a conservative traditional-type logo is probably along your lines. You see, your brand dictates everything including your logo, your look, colors, employee attitudes, marketing and advertising and most every strategic decision you make for your company.
Traditionally, colors go like this:
Blue and Gray are considered Corporate, Legal or "serious" Colors, or in brighter tones Blue is used for companies having anything to do with water like Pool Service or Boating Companies
Green is best for Spas, Landscaping, Earthy and Energy Companies
Yellow is bright and and considered "happy," used for Solar and Outdoor Companies
Red is a Color that can be used in various ways, as an accent color; as a Corporate look when combined with Gray, exciting and vibrant as a sunset with oranges and yellows, or can even appear risque when combined with Black
Purple is the color of Royalty, and is often combined with Gold or White or other Neutrals
Pink is considered very Feminine and is used on many Beauty sites, or as an accent with Gray; it can be any shade from a Cotton Candy baby Pink to a bold Hot Pink or Fuchsia
(Please note this is not a color study. I am not a color expert, I m a business expert who has started more than 400 businesses and examined about 10 times as many over my decades as an entrepreneur. These are only my impressions.)
These are the general traditional uses of color but are you a traditional person starting or operating a traditional company or are you more of a trailblazer? Your brand should represent that--to a degree. Are you an out of the box thinker? You don't have to stick 100% to the formula, just don't confuse or alienate your audience. Stretch the limits and brand yourself, just remember you aren't Walmart yet so keep that in mind and balance the short term effect with the longevity of the effectiveness of the brand.
Brand with Emotion, Not Logic
What do you want your clients to feel when they tell others about your company? Should your prospects feel their information will be secure with your company when they see your website? Will the colors on your menu make your customers' mouth water? Branding is about emotion, creating a relationship with your customer through your look, feel, reputation, products and services. People buy from and do business with people they feel a connection with, so if your branding is successful, you have taken the first step to being top of mind when your customer is ready to purchase. ???
Networking and Collaboration
You will be perceived to be who you are associated with, that is just the way things work in the business world. Luckily you can play this to your advantage. In your life you don't align yourself with people whose beliefs are extremely different than yours, and the same should go for your business. A vegetarian company generally wouldn't partner with a butcher shop, and you should choose your associations wisely as well. They should fit into your overall "brand" story, the picture and reputation of your company. Remember, you want to be proud of your partnerships, and hopefully these partners will also be promoting your joint venture. Don't accept anything just for the benefit from a company you don't want bragging that they are doing business with you. It will never be worth the confusion to your customer base or the damage to your message.
On the other side of this equation is choosing the people in your community (either locally or in your industry online) that you admire or wish to be associated with, and nurturing those relationships. This adds to your brand value. Your posted conversations, participation in their online forums and events, and "showing up strong" where they, are to support them, will be noticed, because each industry is small, and the same B2B people and customer base will notice you are there. Be sure your name, phone number, website, LinkedIn or Facebook or your preferred contact information as well as your LOGO are displayed or posted to further brand your presence.
Your Logo is Not Your Brand--But it Is
Your entire brand, reputation, culture, colors, emotion, need one avatar or icon to represent them at a glance and that icon is your logo. It is the icon that brings all of the branding of your company to top of mind when it is seen, even if it is in itself not the first thing thought about when someone mentions your company! This representation is important and should be timeless, and definitely send the right message through its colors, shapes, whether it is just a graphic, a text logo or a combination of the two. What you don't want is for it to change after you debut it to the world so take your time, put some thought into it, get feedback from people you trust to be honest with you and choose wisely. This is not a time to cheap out--hire a professional designer. Customers are savvy and you want the best logo as such a huge part of your branding story.
Your Brand = Your Story
When all the branding parts come together, they form the story of your company with you steering the ship. You have a professional logo that sends the right message to your clients and prospects, a company culture that reflects your values, your employees reflect your message, an amazing website branded with your colors and "look" like your logo and business cards, all reflecting your brand. You are partnering with the companies that further your message. You know who you are and who you are not. You are ready to serve your customers and bring that brand to life. You are branded. Now LIVE that brand.
ICON Strategies Inc