Creating a brand from scratch
Thousands of entrepreneurs launch a new brand every year in Australia. Of those, some will flourish, but many others will fail dismally. How do you ensure that you create a brand that will stand the test of time?
Many entrepreneurs in the launch phase of a new business wrongly believe that a logo is the same thing as a brand, but that certainly is not the case, says Andy Bateman, CEO of brand agency, The Leading Edge.
In fact, a brand could best be described as how your businesses dresses, looks and behaves to the outside world, he says.
“Creating a brand is more about a definition of how your business behaves than anything else. A good brand can differentiate your business from the market, while a poorly defined brand can easily get lost in the clutter,” Bateman says.
The first step to launching a brand is to research the market, find out who your competitors are and what motivates consumers to buy particular brands within the market, he says.
“Consumers make decisions on what to buy based on several things,” advises Bateman.
”You need to consider what those criteria are so that you know what makes them pay more for one product over another. That can help you define what your brand will look like.”
Alisha Jade Dunsford has launched brands for numerous small businesses. The creative director of AJD Design says keeping it simple is the key to brand consistency.
“Don’t be tempted to overload yourself with brand assets,” she says. “Too many colours, fonts, images and graphic devices will only confuse your message and adds complexity to your brand.
“Invest in a basic style guide and document templates which will help you and your staff control the visual presence of your brand.”
Jo Harvey launched organic bamboo baby clothing brand BabyJo three years ago, trademarking a panda as part of her logo.
With a background in hospitality management and no experience in marketing, she admits launching a brand was a steep learning curve for her.
She says: “I’ve become known as the Panda Lady, which has really worked in my favour. People remember my brand.”
Tell your story
Entrepreneurs should consider defining their brand by telling its unique story, Dunsford advises.
“Create a compelling story that people will want to be a part of and will actively spread the word about,” she says.
Nudie Juice, Bloom Cosmetics and Goodness Superfoods have done this and it’s worked well for the success of their brands, she says.
“Rely on your branding to capture people’s attention through your story and couple this with your great product or service; and sales will naturally follow.”
Sharing her story has worked for Samantha Molineux, who launched an organic skincare business, Lily Loves Pearl, five years ago.
“There were so many brands in the market at the time that all sounded quite similar and I didn’t want to get lost in the clutter, so I tried to find a name that people would remember,” she says.
“Growing up it wasn’t unusual for me to be sitting around the kitchen table with my Gran Pearl and Aunt Lil, who would be cooking up their own skincare products in the kitchen using natural, effective ingredients. Something around that was an obvious choice.
“It works so well because people remember my story. It also brings some connection and authenticity to our customers.”
The cost of a brand
What about cost of creating a brand for your business? According to AJD’s Dunsford, start-up branding shouldn’t cost the earth.
“Begin your business with the absolute essentials in mind – a well-designed logo that captures the uniqueness of your product or service, a matching business card and a considered web presence,” she says.
To have all three professionally designed should cost around $2,500 to $3,000, she says.
Melbourne’s Trout Creative Thinking will walk a start-up business through a considered brand creation process around brand promise and the creation of a slogan, which director Carlo Tarquinio says Trout would charge between $10,000 and $20,000 for.
He advises entrepreneurs to come to a branding agency without too many pre-conceived ideas.
“Just because you think the brand is a good idea, that isn’t to say that everyone else will think it’s a good idea,” he advises.
“We have people come to us all the time who want pink in their branding or a particular image, but once we go through the branding process we often find it’s not at all relevant to their brand and have to advise against it.”
The Leading Edge has worked with household name brands such as KFC, the Commonwealth Bank and on branding projects for George Weston Foods.
Bateman says a rigorous branding launching process would cost upwards of $100,000 with his agency.
“Although it does depend on what the client wants,” he says. “A branding process with serious rigour would cost that, but it can be done for less than that.”
Doing it on a shoestring
However, there are countless success stories of brands that have launched a brand on the smell of an oily rag.
Tarquinio says spending more money during the brand set-up phase doesn’t earn you greater success down the track. “You do see the average punter come up with a great brand from time to time,” he says.
Australian entrepreneur Justin Herald is living proof of that. He built T-shirt brand Attitude with a borrowed $50 note. When he sold the business six years ago it was a multi-million company with products sold in Australia and throughout the world.
These days Herald claims an interest in 18 businesses and speaks publicly on how to launch a brand.
His latest venture is sunglasses brand Intimidate, which he says cost him just $150 in trademark costs to launch.
“I asked a manufacturer if they would manufacture sample sunglasses for me, and they agreed to,” he says. “I took those samples to retailers and went from there.”
A background in marketing made it easier for Anastasia Lambadaridis, who launched her skincare brand, Save Our Skin, four years ago.
But she didn’t have much money to spend on the brand launch phase. “I begged, borrowed, bartered and offered contra deals to launch my brand.”
She sought opinions on her brand, but says that everyone had a different view. “You’ve got to do what works for you and understand that there’s no right or wrong. It’s all about having faith.”
Top tips for launching a brand:
- Make sure you do your research on your competitors, the size of the market and your potential customers.
- Understand that a brand is more than just a logo. Be sure your brand communicates what your business stands for via your website, business cards, logo and marketing.
- Consider if you have the experience or background to create a brand yourself. If you don’t feel confident about the process, seek out an expert and explain your vision.
- Get several quotes from agencies experienced in launching brands. Ask to see their credentials and consider speaking to a couple of past clients.
- Keep your branding simple. Don’t overload your website or logo with too many fonts, colours or images.