More than just a logo.
When you think of great products or companies, the visual image that forms in your mind is probably that of their mark; McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s Swoosh and Coca-Cola’s wave. The inherent value of a quality brand is at the core of everything. At Go Media we believe the process of building memorable brands that last is based on more than just a logo. Taking the time to build a solid brand identity, the heart and soul of your company, is incredibly vital to your company’s growth and survival.
Notes William Beachy, Go Media President, “Having a strong brand identity allows customers to recognize you. Without recognition, there is no brand loyalty. Imagine every McDonald’s had a different name and logo. Would you know McDermont’s in Iowa was the same restaurant as McDoogles in Ohio? Of course not. So consistency of brand builds loyalty. Of course, a strong brand can hurt you if your service or product sucks. If you have a lame ‘knock-off’ product or service, it might be best to blend in – look like the leading competitor. But, if you have an amazing product or service, you want to stand out, be different and have really strong brand consistency.”
How do you introduce, then engage and captivate your customer?
We asked some of our colleagues, with very unique and stand-out brands, for their advice on the whys and hows of building a personal brand.
What does branding mean to you?
“I’m a true believer that a brand represents an actual human emotion or quality. Your brand is the persona or character for your company.” – Kumar Arora, Founder, Rogue Eyewear
“Branding is not about a great design, amazing packaging or even a great website, branding means value. We often think value is gained by the facade of “branding”, such as design, packaging, user experience or a great website. These are elements of a great brand but branding is the values of a company or individual. Where your values are, your brand will also be.” – Jordan Schiller, Director of Business Development, Real Thread
“I think of it as a way communicate who you are publicly and what you are trying to do in a way that people will get it and (hopefully) people will respond. Effective branding does it in many ways; by being concise, funny or just feel real. It’s kind of a process to get there, so it seems like everyone’s branding efforts are in various stages of being full-realized, which I think is cool to see.” – Christen Carter, Owner, Busy Beaver Button Co.
Branding is the essence of your company. A customer should be able to look at your branding and totally understand what you have to offer and who you are trying to reach. What makes great branding is saying a lot with very little. It has to be simple, scalable and meaningful. For us branding isn’t about quantity of projects, it’s about quality. We constantly push ourselves to create new and unique ways of looking at problems to find dynamic solutions.” – Katie Major, Co-Owner, Fizz Creative
“Branding is your identity. It’s what you’re known by, who you are. Everything you do must be done with this in mind. It’s like your reputation personally, it’s all you have.” – Tony Madalone, Owner, Fresh Brewed Tees
Why is it important to build your own, unique brand?
“I struggle with this question a bit. Building a unique brand is important because it shows the world where you’ve put your value and that means everything.” – Jordan Schiller, Real Thread
“In my opinion, because it’s important to be honest about who you are and what you are trying to do. Although, there is a little fake it ’til you make it, too. In which case, it sets a tone for what you want to be.” – Christen Carter, Busy Beaver Button Co.
“It gives your clients a sense of security in that they can look at what your brand and understand who you are. Creating a unique brand matters so you can differentiate yourself from others. The most important aspect of building a brand is being authentic to who you are. If you aren’t cultivating something you love and believe in, it will show to your clients.” – Katie Major, Fizz Creative
“Branding for both of our companies has been important to us since day one. Starting from scratch we asked “How do we want to be viewed by customers?” and “What will our look and feel say about our custom products?” Since our business is printing custom stickers at StandOutStickers.com and custom buttons at PureButtons.com, we offer a blank canvas for anyone to put their design on. So what does our branding say to an artist or company with their own image they’re putting on our products? Of course we want it to say that we’re professionals, that your designs are in good hands, and that we know what we’re doing. We also want to let the customers know that we’re real people, and your work will be handled with care and not just churned out by thoughtless machines. So our branding had to have professionalism with a human touch.
We stress over the details of making our products better than the rest, better printers, better finishes, quicker turnaround, but that all means nothing unless our branding and presentation convinces customers to make an order. Then we hope our product speaks for itself once the customer gets it in-hand. If we hadn’t taken care of our branding from step one, there would be less of those opportunities.” – Josh Hippley, StandOut Stickers
“It’s important to build a unique, personal brand because you’re competing every second for attention. The average person is bombarded by thousands of ads from hundreds of brands daily. In order to stand out, you must be different. People also are more likely to engage with a company that’s more personal. The friendlier the brand, the stronger the brand.” – Tony Madalone, Fresh Brewed Tees
How did you build your brand?
“Like the development of a child, you have to give your brand attributes that you want it to grow up with. In the case of my different ventures, each of them have different ideologies, beliefs, thought processes, and so on.” – Kumar Arora, Rogue Eyewear
“Honestly, no one person can build a brand. Building a brand has to be more than a mean to acquire a status or success. It requires passion, a passion to build up those around you, improving and empowering their state of life. If you’re writing a blog, developing a product, or offering a service it has to be about other people and building them up. Moreover, it also has to be about the team that your working with more than any one individual. Alone, you are able to go fast. Together, you will be able to build a more sustainable brand that will continue to empower your user’s state for years to come.” – Jordan Schiller, Real Thread
“It’s a very closely held operation, so it’s really developing as I develop and as the company/vision develops. It started off, I thought of it as just asking people I liked to help with illustrations and then me just making and photocopying flyers. But now, I realize now it’s kind of everything; how people around the organization (inside and out) are treated, how we communicate in words and images, how we make decisions, what we decide what is important…. it’s kind of endless and hard to fake! It really takes regular digging in to think about what I want to do and what issues are coming to us and then putting them out there and responding in ways that feel natural and within our more focused efforts. I mean, we really want people to express and share their ideas through buttons, so we do whatever we can to make this happen in a friendly and supportive way. So, with this in the forefront of our minds, the overwhelming nature of branding being everything is simplified.” – Christen Carter, Busy Beaver Button Co.
“Jasen and I built our brand by knowing who we wanted to target and what we wanted to say about ourselves as designers. We also knew the kinds of projects we didn’t want and stood firm on that. These days everyone will first check out your website before they decide to call you. It’s important that your website shows the kind of work that you want so you can attract those types of clients. Jasen and I knew we wanted to create clean and sophisticated designs that had meaning. Our brand started as a custom diecut letterpress business card. This may be expensive, but it showcases our name in a unique way, and makes a strong impression with clients. I believe this card showed our first clients our attention to detail and quality. Those first projects snowballed into more projects and referrals as we put good work out there. We never take a single project for granted, and make sure that we always are able to give our clients our absolute best.
We have continued to build our brand through online merchandise as well as selling through retail boutiques. We sell Ohio and Michigan themed products like T-shirts and glassware. Many of our items also have our website so clients can see our name and find us in different markets. We have found a way that people will actually pay us to do our marketing. It is great because our merchandise is a great way to show not only our design work, but our attention to detail with our products. We have high standards of quality and only work with printers who uphold those standards.
When considering building your own brand we recommend you start by creating a personal manifesto for yourself. What are the guiding principles for your business and how do you want others to see you. The key again is being authentic to who you are. After that, making sure that you follow through consistently to keep your standards high. Once you have your foundation you can build on it through networking, the projects you choose to accept, and the personal work that you develop. We have found that having a good mix of both personal interest projects and client work really helps to keep your creativity moving as well as help you build a stronger client base by showing your versatility and passion.” – Katie Major, Fizz Creative
“While we’ve established a strong brand, I believe it’s still being built. Every day is a step closer. We try to build our brand on experience. That’s why we opened a retail t-shirt truck instead of a store front. People don’t connect with a product/service as much as they connect with an experience. The more unique experiences we can provide for our customers and fans, the better.” – Tony Madalone, Fresh Brewed Tees
“For our custom buttons company, PureButtons.com, we started with the idea that our product is relatively playful. Knowing that, we needed to choose a color scheme that represented our company and set it apart from all others. We chose a bright orange value that has remained in use from day one. The secondary brand color is bright blue and various shades of cool brown for a warmer / softer visual feeling than if we went with gray values. The rest of our products are represented by other colors that fit this playful theme. We incorporate a few illustrated characters around our site to serve as product mascots. While we’ve moved away from these as we develop, the bright colors and bold graphical representations of our products are important to our identity. This is important for us because when we do advertising, we want the visuals to be immediately recognized and jump off the screen.
For our Custom Stickers company, StandOutStickers.com, we originally began with a more muddy, military green and cream color scheme, with vintage slogans and an aged look. This was in an effort to speak to an alternative artist community of potential customers, but as we grew, we realized that it didn’t present our company in a way that matches our very professional and clean custom stickers. So about a year ago we started over, cleaning up the logo to be bolder, cleaner, but with the same basic footprint, and reworked our color scheme and website colors to be fresh, bright and professional. Our sticker company branding uses less bells and whistles than our button company branding does, but we feel like it’s the right fit for the customers we serve right now. To put this branding vision in one word would be “Precision”. Adding graphical elements to our designs like light background grids and blocks of color reminiscent of a cmyk test print, we wanted to express our skill and our high-end printing and cutting machinery with our new look. Since launching our new design along with a redesigned checkout system, our daily and repeat orders have increased significantly.
Finally, with both companies being owned and operated from the same facility in Medina, OH, we have been pushing the ‘Made in USA’ and ‘Made in OHIO’ tags. We feel that this kind of addition to our identity is important to reinforce to consumers; that what they’re investing in is a quality product made by real people that take pride in their work. When you get to the top of the search results you’re competing for page rank with much larger businesses that offer a wide variety of products and churn out orders in a much larger capacity and in a more automated way. We feel that letting people know where we’re at speaks to a few of these ideas and adds value to our brand.
As time goes forward we keep an eye on emerging design trends and are open to adjusting our look to remain current, but is important that every facet of our company matches in its professional presentation, so there is no mistaking us when we come across your screen. There is a lot of competition in our industries and really working on our brand identity has been one of the keys to our success.” – Josh Hipply, StandOutStickers
Thanks to our contributors!