Although a marketer at heart, with a passion for developing brands, I am a strong believer that a brand has to be fit for purpose for the business to which it relates, says Business advisor and author of The Startup Coach, Carl Reader.
You have no doubt heard about the extraordinary fees that some branding agencies charge (which are quite frankly inappropriate for all but certain types of business). There is however a strong reason to engage the right level of branding and design support for your business, especially when you are setting out.
From building trust in your business to making you stick in customers’ memory, a good visual identity shows competence and a professional pride in your business. A poorly executed logo and branding conveys a lack of ability, so unless you are a graphic designer by trade, I would strongly recommend enlisting the help of a designer to produce your marketing material, as it will help you present a professional image to the outside world. Good design can make you stand out from your competitors, portray your business as a professional entity and convey key messages.
To decide on your budget for your brand, you need to consider how essential a strong visual identity is to your business. The promotion of an internet business is dependent on the brand name and domain. Both need to be catchy and memorable. However, if your intention is to be a small local business, then a super flashy logo and website might not be top of your priority list. However, that said, first impressions are key and a good, professional logo and brand is never a waste – and doesn’t need to cost a fortune.
Logos can range from £50 to £50,000, yet there is not always the need to spend huge amounts of money to have a logo designed. In fact, the strongest brand image that I have cost me less than £300 including a full brand guideline document and a pre-designed template for all stationery and corporate communications.
Small design and branding agencies are professionals, and they can be budget-friendly goldmines for start ups. Make sure that you see copies of the designer’s work before proceeding and also that you have the ability to make revisions to their proposals. Establish budgets and costs in advance and clarify exactly what is covered by the fees. Be fair on both of you – it’s important to get value for money but also to remember their creative expertise is valuable too. Communication is key, so make sure your designer is willing to discuss your brief with you in depth to get a clear understanding of your requirements and ideas. This way, you can together establish exactly what you are looking for and create a solution that suits you and your needs. Be prepared to be clear but also open-minded; sometimes the best ideas are the most unexpected.