It can be hard to decide when is the time you should start investing in the design of a strong brand for your startup or growing business.
The scenario is familiar. You’re a cash-strapped startup trying to go big. If your company is like many small businesses, you probably recognize the general need for a logo. However, you have a lot of priorities tugging at your attention, and you may not be sure what point in your business growth is a good time to invest in brand development.
In other words, you would like to have a logo for your business, but you would like to save money. And you’ve probably noticed that some local small businesses with an established customer base or an excellent physical location may be able to get by without investing in much of a brand strategy at all. So you think, maybe you can get by with your company name just written out in whatever font your secretary happens to select on a particular day. It doesn’t seem very important. Right?
Maybe. But if you haven’t adopted a strong branding strategy, then you’re not building as much brand equity as you could be building with each customer interaction. In the long term, that could mean you’ll have to work harder to make each sale. If you are looking for growth in a crowded, competitive market, then a solid branding strategy will be an essential part of your broad-based marketing strategy.
Investing in brand design early can help improve your business results.
Brand design is a strategic asset
Your brand is a strategic asset. Your corporate identity is not just a mark on a piece of paper. Your brand is an entire framework for building and sustaining your company’s relationship with your customers. You invest in developing your brand message and brand identity; and then you invest in communicating that brand message to your target market. Over time, this strategy builds brand equity, a stored value which translates into future sales. If you have established a strong brand early in your company’s existence, a later change can sometimes result in the loss of brand equity. People sometimes form loyalties quickly! The rule is: Delight. Don’t disappoint.
When you’re raising capital to fund your new business, be sure to show your new brand design to your investors. From the investors’ perspective, a strong brand presentation at the outset reflects strong leadership and vision for the company. It also demonstrates to them that you have a handle on the taste and stylistic preferences of your target market; which means your business has a better chance of success. These factors make your startup look like a better investment.
Your earliest customers
A business with a strong brand in place at launch stands a better chance of generating coveted “buzz,” including word of mouth; online referrals and social media; and formal publicity in the form of media coverage. A strong brand is a publicist’s best friend. When your business is represented by branding elements that are attractive, memorable, easily recognizable, and highly visible, then you stand a better chance of getting more coverage, and better coverage.
What does brand design cost?
[First, note the differences between “brand design” and “logo design.” “Brand design” encompasses many aspects of your company’s image; one of which is your logo design. The logo is the most obvious component of the brand; but the brand is much more than just a logo. Now, with that said…]
I recently found this page, which I thought uses a great classification system for categorizing the various service tiers of the logo design industry.
The student/overseas service tier
At the low end, you can get a cheap logo for a couple hundred bucks; but the final deliverable is probably created by someone overseas who does not work closely with you through the project. If you look hard enough, you may even be able to find a student who will design your logo for free, or nearly free. However, there are obvious drawbacks to this supply channel, such as the unpredictable quality of the final product.
Freelance graphic designer
You may be able to find a freelance graphic designer who can create a high-quality logo design for your business at a very competitive rate. However, a designer won’t have as many resources at their disposal as a firm or agency; so a freelancer won’t be able to provide as much assistance with market research, or with more complete marketing and branding strategies.
Local design firm
A small local design firm can offer amazing work at prices that are only a little more than a freelance designer. By adding personnel to cover additional roles, a small firm is able to offer superior service and support. A local design firm is an ideal partner for your startup or small business growth strategy.
If you select a local design firm for your branding project, you’ll probably find that a quality branding project that carefully addresses the business requirements of your small, local firm will likely run something like $1,200 to $3,500 or so. (There are always outliers though…) If you are a startup or local small business, a brand design consultant like Mardesco will benefit your company by providing additional marketing advice to help your business grow.
When large firms such as Fortune 500 companies decide to rebrand, they usually invest in elaborate brand design projects. Brand design projects by major agencies last many months; involve large teams of designers; often require studies, focus groups, or other methods for evaluating target market sentiment; and cost tens of thousands of dollars (or even millions).
Accounting for your brand design investment
If brand design is a strategic asset, then it stands to reason you should be able to depreciate your brand design investment just as you would depreciate any capital expense. This technique doesn’t affect your short-term cash flow; but by depreciating your investment over time, you should be able to offset a portion of your future tax liability. So ask your accountant to classify your brand design project as a capital expense, and to depreciate it over a reasonable time frame.
Go forth, and brand your startup
In conclusion, investing in your brand early in your startup’s growth trajectory should help to give your business a major performance boost.
If you want to work with a professional marketing design agency to help you design a strong brand for your startup or local small business, call Mardesco. Our talented team of marketing and graphic design professionals can help your brand stand out in a competitive world.