When you’re at a party with new people, you don’t get balance sheets with everyone’s statistics and track record. You don’t form impressions based on their “friendship retention percentage” or “personal growth projections.” You decide who you like and don’t like based on their personality — their identity — because that’s just what humans do. So why would you think brands are any different?
Your brand identity influences whether or not people choose to do business with you, more-so than the company’s technical performance. We all see brands as people and judge them on similar standards: Do they think like me? Can I trust them? How does everyone else feel about them? This makes your brand identity — especially your logo, the “face” of your brand — one of your most potent business tools.
Never is this more important than when seeking startup capital. For starters, these early meetings are how potential investors form their first impression of you; you have no prior reputation for them to draw on. But there’s an even more useful advantage: appealing to investors’ emotions makes it more likely to cinch the deal than appealing to their logic.
Modern neuroscience shows us that people use emotions far more than logic to make decisions — even against their better judgement. Whether it is crucial business decisions or where to have lunch, humans tend to “go with their gut,” even those people who consider themselves purely logical.
When it comes to investing, potential partners also view your brand as a person and ask themselves, “is this the kind of person I want to work with?” The answer to that question ultimately lies in how strong your brand identity is.
So, in this article, we’re going to give you 5 pieces of advice for improving your brand identity so you don’t end up making crucial branding mistakes that lose you funding. Think of it like a crash course in charisma, where the stakes aren’t popularity, but prosperity.
1. Start Building Your Brand Identity Yesterday
When is the best time to start thinking about brand identity? Pretty much right from the start.
Some people consider brand identity to be secondary and don’t even give it a thought until after their launch. But they’re only hurting themselves: as mentioned above, brand identity is most needed in the early stages, given its effectiveness in appropriating startup capital.
You don’t have to commit too much of a budget at the start; after all, there are plenty of other equally important areas to fund. But you should invest something in your brand identity right away — if you don’t determine your own brand identity early on, circumstance may do it for you!
2. Commit to the Long Haul
You want your company to be around for awhile, don’t you? Then why not have a brand identity that’s strong enough to go the distance with you.
What we mean when we say “commit to the long haul” is, do it right the first time so you don’t have to fix it later. If you take your time at the beginning, do your research and put in the groundwork, you won’t have to spend time revising your brand identity over the years. Not only is it one less thing to worry about when your business starts building momentum, but a strong brand identity will even help guide you along the way and give you direction if you’re lost.
While part of your brand identity is abstract, your logo is quite the opposite. As a visual representation of your brand, your logo is most likely what people will “latch onto” when trying to determine what kind of brand you are. That’s why it’s especially important to have a logo that can last for a while, which brings us to our next tip…
3. Go All In with Your Logo
Hands down, your logo is the most important aspect of your brand identity. As such, you should invest in it most, as much as you can afford.
As we said above, your logo is the first thing people use to identify your brand’s personality, and it’s going to be with you awhile. But those aren’t the only ways that logos can be a business game-changer. Logos are also great for:
- Enticing new business — A catchy logo can be enough to get a new customer’s attention and even a click.
Setting you apart from competition — Too many companies just do what everyone else is doing for logos, so having a higher quality one puts you ahead of the pack.
- Initiating brand loyalty — For repeat customers, your logo ensures the level of quality they’ve come to expect with your brand. It’s almost a satisfaction guarantee.
- Publicity — Once you’ve settled on a logo, you can start placing it everywhere: websites, product packages, ads, social media, t-shirts… wherever you want. Each placement is like a mini-billboard.
Because it’s such a crucial step, we recommend enlisting the help of a professional. One of the best ways is through a 99designs logo contest. Simply fill out a brief with your business goals, preferred style and brand colors, and any other notes. From there, 99designs’ global community of designers get to work submitting logo concepts. All you have to do is browse their submissions, give feedback on the ones you like, and choose your favorite in the final round.
Sometimes you won’t know your perfect logo until you see it.
4. Give Your Brand Human Characteristics
You like people who are funny and thoughtful. You dislike people who are loud or pushy. Brand personalities are the same way and have the same effects. Investors and consumers both only give money to brands they “like.”
When first constructing your brand identity, think it terms of human characteristics. For example, if your brand uses advanced technology that surpasses your competitors, then traits like “modern,” “intelligent” or “sophisticated” are all applicable. Solidifying these traits early on will prove invaluable when it comes time to write copy for your site, launch ad campaigns, and create content for social media.
You should use some quantitative data when determining the specifics of your brand identity, particularly if you don’t fit the profile of your target customer. Whom you’re targeting and what they want should be the main factor in your brand’s personality.
If you’re having trouble, use the metrics below to get started…
You should know these traits before you get your logo designed. They’ll be great help for the designer to know what you’re aiming for.
5. Keep an Open Mind with Feedback
We’ve been comparing a brand to a person a lot, but one of the biggest differences between the two is that it’s a whole lot easier to change a brand identity than a person’s identity.
The early stages of a new business is ideal for fine-tuning your brand identity. Chances are, it’ll require some trial-and-error, so don’t be afraid to tweak the edges here and there.
Your potential investors may have some criticism about the direction of your brand identity, and you should listen to them. Venture capitalists especially have special insights on what makes a successful business, so heed their advice.
If you have access to your customer group already, you might also want to consider conducting some market research. Testing different variations of your logo or promotional copy with actual people can help isolate what your target customers are looking for and allows you to make the right choices.
What if you met your brand at a party? Would you enjoy chatting with them, or would you excuse yourself to talk to a brand that’s more compatible with you? We’ve already established that humanizing your brand can increase your chances with investors, and later customers… What kind of person your brand becomes, though, is up to you.