Chris Gunn spoke to Start Ups Magazine on why a brand is much more than a logo, especially for startups.
Chris, can you tell us why you like working with startups and entrepreneurs?
Working with entrepreneurs and startups is one of the most exciting aspects of what we do. The challenge of bringing to life a new product or business idea is what gets us out of bed in the morning. However, all too often one of the biggest challenges we face is demonstrating why having a strong brand proposition is so important – especially to people who believe their product or service speaks for itself. We admire passion and commitment but without a strong brand proposition startups just won’t get cut through, regardless of how great the product or idea is.
What’s the starting point in the process?
Kicking things off can be daunting so it’s essential to have a clear plan and know the way forward. The most fundamental thing before anything else starts is getting to the core of why a company exists in the first place. A brand is not a logo – it’s an approach to business, it’s a mission, it’s a vision and a whole lot more besides. Having that clarity and sense of purpose will inform everything that follows.
How do startups do that?
Firstly, you need to understand and define a core set of principles that truly represent what the business stands for; from its aims and its ethos to its professional conduct, how it approaches sustainability and the way it treats people. The most successful businesses are the ones that adopt and stick to these guiding foundations, especially when scaling up, as they won’t risk losing their identity and their customers know what they are buying into. It all ultimately creates lasting brand loyalty and affinity. Having a clear, concise and succinct brand vision alongside a strong brand identity will also appeal to investors.
Is there anything that you need to keep in mind?
Startups also need to have a clear understanding of who their audience is and what resonates with them along with how they can disrupt the markets they operate in. The key is to be (and then act) differently and to truly own being a start up. Once all that’s done the process of creating a brand can begin. Step one is to get the message right which is all about theWho, What and Why.
Can you expand on that?
Who is your brand?We know a brand isn’t a person but try and look at it like it is as people buy people. You need to work out what your brand personality is: What do you do?Talking about what you actually do isn’t necessarily the most important thing but talking about the things that will resonate with them is. It could be price, quality or convenience but it’s far more likely to be how it makes them feel; andWhy do you do what you do?This is all about knowing what your objectives are and what success looks like to you.
What should a good brand should do in practice?
The simple answer is to stand out and be different. It needs to unlock your ideas potential to define cultures, drive trends and engage audiences. That can only come with knowledge, so do your research by understanding what your competitors are doing well, what they’re doing badly and where the opportunities lie for you. If you do all of that you’ll be noticed – especially if your brand is instantly recognisable, makes people want to affiliate themselves with it, acts as an identifier and is strong, current but timeless.
How does the process actually work for startups?
Every agency works differently but our approach to developing a brand is with our unique branding workshop sessions. We work collaboratively with our clients right from the outset to create a brand world that gives entrepreneurs the best possible start in their journey with a clear vision, a premium identity and a raft of thought-provoking pieces of visual collateral that people can engage and interact with across multiple touchpoints – both online and offline.
Any final thoughts or considerations for startups who want to get their brand right?
We know that startups are all too often focused on getting their product or service ready for market, but they ignore developing a strong brand at their peril. Consumers are savvy, they want to invest emotionally in what they buy, they want to be loyal but in turn they need to be communicated to in an honest and truthful way; that’s where a strong brand will pay long-term dividends.