(A view from a designer and a business starter)
First of all, I would like to give brief info, on how I could make this article. I am currently a full time graphic designer. And I am also currently running a fashion brand – I also have some entrepreneur friends who share me their difficulties in spending some of their fund to branding. So I am quite confident to claim that I know some things about the pros and cons of paying branding projects from both views.
A well-positioned, beautifully visualised brand with a compelling story can give a start up a tremendous advantage in the marketplace – that is why branding always has to be done carefully.
But from the business perspective, spending too much, too early can drain the business of the financial resources it needs for growth. Invest too little, too late, and your startup business might underperform its true potential or disappear in a crowded field.
A typical start up branding package might include any of the following elements:
1. Company or product name
2. Visual identity system (e.g. logo, typography, color, supporting visual elements)
3. Brand story, positioning, and messaging
5. Additional brand materials (e.g. business cards, signage, brochures, social media, etc)
For some startups, it makes sense to bring in an outside branding firm to help develop these elements. In other cases, it makes more sense to save the money and complete the work internally, or even combine the two approaches.
If your startup is in a category where ‘brand is everything’ (like a clothing line or a product that will be sold in retail), you may want to invest a little more on your branding budget. Why I use the word invest, instead of spend?
Because your brand is – or will be your most valuable asset! It is intangible asset as it cannot be directly turned into cash, and sadly some business fail to treat it with the value it deserves. Sad, because your brand carries great weight, influence, and differentiation point between your competitors.
If you have less budget to spend than the branding quotation to get, I would personally recommending you to buy some books instead. Start with Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Then get Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler. If you have a few bucks left over, The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World by Chris Grams. So you will at least get your startup a name, logo/basic visual identity, basic positioning/messaging, and a good website and web domain using common website-building tool like Squarespace or Wordpress.
If you haven’t decide what name your startup should have, you can check a separate blog post I made on ‘Naming Guide for Your New Brand.’
While for logo and visual identity, they are a bit harder to do inexpensively unless you know someone who is a designer or have some design skills yourself. Some people might go for cheap design options that only make a logo looks good. But a good branding is way more than just a good logo. It is more about the story – your story and your startup story, and how it could engage with your future customers.
One final thought: hopefully this post will give you some insights on how important investing your startup for a brand. If you have any further questions or would like me to follow up with additional information, please feel free to reach out via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).