Words by Tess Robinson, Smack Bang Designs
Starting a business is, well, tough business. There’s planning and strategy, turmoil and fretting, excitement and relief – simultaneously. It’s a bit like the emotional rollercoaster that is a viewing sesh of The Bachelorette, except even more intense. The list of tasks is endlessly excessive, not to mention exhausting.
Yes, business owners are constantly climbing the emotional equivalent of Everest in their plight to realise their dreams. While their task list could fill an encyclopedia, yet one request I hear all too often from enthusiastic start-up dreamers is the approach to the logo. They seem to chat about it as though it’s the clincher to launching them to infinity and beyond. The logo can often become the revered Holy Grail of the brand itself, as though that magical vector image alone will catapult them out of their dilapidated share house and into the Taj Mahal. Well, a logo is naturally of tremendous importance as a visual representation of your product or service. But, and there is a but: your logo is as useless as a screen door on a submarine if it’s not accompanied by kick-ass branding.
Many people start out all starry-eyed and whimsical without giving due thought to the rest of the branding landscape. You are not just your logo, just like Apple is not just a fruit. Success is not founded on a cute and irresistible little image alone, but in the why, what and how of your business. You’ve got to do more than stamp your mark on a website and a business card – you’ve got to get fluent with every part of your baby: carrying her tone and voice across every platform and medium.
There’s a big difference between a logo and a brand.
Such a common misconception is that your logo is your brand. Sure, your logo is super important and should evoke the sorts of euphoric feelings you get when you open a parcel you purchased online on a dreary Tuesday morning, but really it’s just the starting place for a recognisable and successful brand. The logo is but a zippy, magical piece of a larger puzzle that makes a brand and business take off.
Imagine if you had a logo but you used different fonts, colours, images and tone of voice across all your collateral? It doesn’t matter how great your logo is; if your brand isn’t properly thought through, intentional and consistent, it’ll get lost in the noise.
A great logo is nothing if not applied well.
A great logo applied poorly is like having a really ridiculously good looking boyfriend who doesn’t know how to string words into a tangible sentence. Initially, the good looks trump everything, but you’ll quickly come to realise that the lack of depth, inability to communicate and fear of commitment really is a deal breaker.
The same thing can be said for your logo. Sure, it needs to look great, but if you can’t tell a great brand story, communicate with your audience, or commit to some longevity, it’s not doing your brand justice. Having a fantastic logo is the first step to building an incredible brand, but you’ve got to have a few more non-negotiables to make the relationship last. So, to recap, your logo is a pretty paramount first impression to the masses, all leggy and full of fluttering eyelashes. Your brand is the consistent slow-burner that converts lust into loyalty and a second-glance into a second bedroom.
We’re all looking for an experience, not a graphic.
Like all areas of life, branding is about an experience. You want your consumers to feel your brand, your offerings and your products, not just see them.
The fastest way to losing your hard earned clients/consumers is with an inconsistent experience. I get my chai from the same place every morning. Yes, partly due to habit, but also because I know my local is going to make my chai the exact same way they made is yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that. Consistency. No surprises there. If every day was a gamble as to whether my milk was going to be burnt, if the chai was going to be too sweet or if the barista was going to be grumpy, I’d be out of there in a second. The takeaway is: consistency is key.
I look at branding the same way. If someone sees your killer logo, expecting an equally as epic website but is greeted by word art and an early 2000s user experience, they’re not going to stick around long. Your target audience wants a cohesive and consistent experience. From business cards, to comps slips, packaging, website – all these items need to be as on point as your logo in order to create not just a good looking brand, but an epic brand experience.
You need to create branding that your customers can bank on.
We’ll say it until we’re blue: a logo won’t instantly gain loyalty. And while one of your competitors can always take home the trophy for being the cheapest provider around, the rest of us rely on storytelling via our brand to leverage profit and give our folks something to really make a song and dance about.
You’ll pay for a logo, but adequate, consistent, deliciously narrated branding will love you back in dividends if you are slow, steady and full of commitment to your people and your product. Keep your eyes on the prize, and protect your brand as though it’s the last Tim Tam in the world.