Brands are everywhere we look, we have all grown up with big brands such as Coca Cola and have seen new brands emerge such as Spotify and Netflix. But how do you start a brand? How do you seed a brand from scratch to grow into something people know? What are those brand beginnings?
When looking at branding, one of the core elements that I can’t stress enough is consistency; a brand is only a brand through consistency. If it continually changes; it has no consistent colours, fonts change, or too many are used, marketing messages have no common style, then this isn’t a brand.
Sure a select few brands can get away with ongoing variation, but generally only after they are established. MTV, for example, has been a pioneer by utilising a consistent logo, but displaying it in a different way over and over, using different colours, background patterns and effects, but this has actually become part of their brand and helped to portray the variety of content that their channel shows. – But these types of brand tactics are hard to pull off and are generally reserved for well-established brands that want to get inventive as part of their strategy.
All brands have to start somewhere, if you have a company already in its early stages, take a look at the name, take a look at what you are selling, what your current messaging is.
If you are starting from scratch, then the first thing to do is to choose your brand name.
First check someone else doesn’t already have the name you are thinking of, if you are based in the UK, and want to check registered companies, you can use the Companies House website: https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company, you should also check the Intellectual Property Office for registered trademarks: https://trademarks.ipo.gov.uk/ipo-tmtext. If you are in the US or
Now the process of choosing a name has changed somewhat over recent years, and ultimately if you want to trade online or have online visibility (which let’s face it, what businesses doesn’t want to nowadays), it comes down to what web addresses (URL’ s/Domain Names) are available. You can quickly check for available domain names with a domain name provider – 1&1 Ionos offer an excellent domain name checker: https://www.ionos.co.uk/, and competitive domain name prices. I have used 1&1 for many years and have absolutely no complaints with either their prices or their service.
You may notice a select few companies such as B&Q can get away without having their brand name as their web address, instead, using domains such as www.diy.com – But again they were already an established name when setting up their website, and not a start-up struggling in this modern digital world.
Ideally, you should be looking to own the .com domain, if you are a UK based company you could opt for the .co.uk, and domains such as .org and .info can fit quite well and are normally easier to find, but if you are planning on trading internationally, strive for that .com domain.
Once you have your brand name, you then need to start thinking of other brand elements, such as; brand look and feel, this includes; logos, colours, fonts, core messaging and more. – If you don’t have the capabilities to design and develop these yourself, you need to start working with a designer, a bad looking and poorly implemented brand can have negative effects on your business moving forward.
Next look to develop your logo, strive to produce one that you won’t need to change any time soon, again you need to build consistency from the outset, and re-brands are not only wasteful but extremely hard and costly to pull off.
Then think about brand colours. Colours say a lot about a brand, (click here to read our article on brand colour palettes), but for the basics, take a look at your competitors, see what colours they use. Often specific colours are used in a sector, for example; Blue is good for banking, and corporate looking brands, red and yellow can infer a budget brand, green promotes eco-friendly brands, and so on. – Be sure to give your brand colours enough thought before finalising them.
Now that you have a domain name, you are obviously going to want matching email addresses, setting this up is very simple and again companies such as 1&1 make this really easy – I have to say, there is nothing worse than seeing a nicely branded website, with a great domain name, to then find that people representing the business have a Hotmail email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have other digital systems or services, such as file repositories, Skype or Teams accounts, and so on.… make sure these all match and refer to your brand name.
Make a conscious effort to start building your brand guidelines, what should these include at the primary level? – Font types (ideally stick to one font), font colours, font sizes. When using imagery on your website or in presentations and documents, keep the style consistent, build a theme, don’t have random images that don’t match – remember, consistency.
If you take a look at more established brands, ones with sophisticated campaigns, you will start to identify themes, take a look at a brand such as Adidas, and you will see that the images they use across their campaigns look similar, they have the same type of photography, contrast, colours, composition – ultimately their ‘look and feel’.
Some well-established brands don’t even need their name or logo on materials for you to recognise their brand. Brand colours are again a significant contributor here. Imagine driving along on a rainy day, most people could identify McDonald’s, with their bright red and yellow lit fascia’s reflecting in the wet road. – This is
Remember to try and keep it simple, try not to ‘over-design’ your brand; less really does mean more.
This post is just a taster of some of the primary brand building blocks to focus on but remember – branding is all about consistency, and if you always keep this in mind, then you will soon be building a brand that people will recognise.