When you’re starting a new business, all the things you need to do before you even start are pretty overwhelming. Outside of actually setting things up financially, staffing, permits, trademarking, and much more, you probably don’t know what you need when branding a new business other than maybe the logo. There are actually a number of things you need when branding a new business that are required from day one, which are the logo, a website, social media graphics, stationery, and a brand guide.
The logo is usually the first thing people think about when branding a new business; coming second only to the actual company name and maybe domain name. The logo is a big deal for your company and isn’t something you ever want done cheaply unless you have absolutely no budget and no other options.
The purpose of the logo is to identify your company and promote a level of quality and professionalism that should be found everywhere that logo lives. It needs to be versatile so that it works in a variety of mediums like apps, websites, t-shirts, letterhead, newsprint, and social media. It also needs to be unique, simple, and appropriate for your business.
Remember, a logo doesn’t need to be a direct representation of what your company does. For example, if your company sells outdoor heaters, there shouldn’t be a heater in your logo. It’s not necessary, and if one day you switch to selling a new product, the logo will no longer work. It’s usually best to keep representation in a logo more abstract. If you work with a designer or agency, they will create you something that works with this in mind.
If you are in the position of branding a new business with nothing in the budget for a logo or any other visuals, you will have to do it all yourself; at least until you have the money for professional graphics. A template logo found somewhere like Canva should work as a temporary solution and you can use the template socials graphics and marketing materials found there as well.
If you’re launching a new business, a website is mandatory. It really doesn’t matter what type of business it is, you just need somewhere that people can find you online and learn more about you to know that you’re a legitimate business.
A Facebook page just won’t cut it anymore.
Your website doesn’t need to be anything complicated. Depending on what your business is, a simple landing page could do. Just something that displays your brand, answers some customers questions, and gives people more information about how to contact you or get a hold of your products.
If you use an agency, they will design something that will work for you short or long term, depending on your needs. They can also design something with a CMS (Content Management System) so you can make simple edits and additions to your website without needing to know how to code.
If you’re not using an agency or professional designer, you can build the site yourself. Just get a domain name, find hosting, and install a CMS like WordPress. You can use a template site design found online for a reasonable price as well. I’m a fan of Theme Forest. If you’re not very tech savvy, another option is something like SquareSpace which allows you to create a fully customizable site with no coding knowledge and minimal set up.
A social graphics package includes that basic things you will need to start business accounts on any of the big social media platforms. This should include profile images and cover images, in addition to templates you can use for ongoing social graphics for each major platform.
For example, a Twitter graphics package could include a profile photo and cover image sized specifically for Twitter, and a few templates done in Photoshop, Spark Post, or Canva that the business owner or a staff member would be able to create daily posts with. Most companies will need to post on social media daily to help build their brand, and someone on staff will need to do this, whether it’s a dedicated social media strategist or a manager. Basically, there should be enough template materials and instructions that any non-designer could post something that’s both visually and message-wise on-brand.
A basic stationary package includes letterhead, business cards, envelopes, labels, and any other branded print materials you might use on a regular basis. The type of business you are creating will matter when deciding if a full stationery package is crucial or not, but in most cases it is. If you or anyone from your company regularly talks to people in-person about the business, then business cards are mandatory, even if the cards only have a name and website address.
As for a letterhead, you can decide on the type of letterhead you want for any professional print and digital documents you send. You can either have a digital letterhead where your company branding is built right into the digital document, or you can get 8.5 x 11 sheets printed with your company branding at the top of a blank sheet of paper. You just put these sheets in the printer tray so any thing you print off has the branding already on it. The first option is usually cheaper since you’re not paying upfront for the cost of branding blank sheets, though the second option would be higher quality.
The Brand Guide
So the brand guide isn’t one specific visual thing. It’s a document that dictates how a brand should look and act, both internally and in public facing mediums and marketing. A brand guide will go over how to properly use the corporate logo, what colours and imagery should be used alongside the brand, and should detail the brand personality. This is necessary to ensure you have a cohesive brand with visuals and messaging that works well together.
Having a brand guide is an essential part to making sure all elements of your brand work together in a positive way that helps to establish the brand’s reputation. If you work with an agency or professional designer, they should include a brand guide that will act as a vital reference guide for everything you need going forward related to your brand.
A Brand Guide Should Include:
- A full analysis of the brand, its personality, and the company mission statement.
- Details on how to use your logo with imagery, on social media, in print, and how to use variations of it (white logo on dark background, greyscale logo, etc).
- Full information on the brand colours, why they were chosen, and how to use them.
- Detail on typefaces to use, how to use them, and where.
- Imagery or image styles that can be used with the brand and the type of treatment or filters to use with them.
- How to use any template files.
- Contact information for the designer or agency who put everything together and how to contact them regarding future design projects.
In addition, you should receive all logo and visual branding files on a shared server or USB
Visuals Needed When Branding A New Business – In Summary
These five things are really just general things that most, if not all, brands will need upon launch. Some businesses will require extra items upon launch, or additional templated items like real estate feature sheets, PowerPoint presentations, or other ongoing print marketing materials.
There are so many things to organize when starting a business, and branding a new business is a daunting task all on its own. To make things easier, I strongly recommend hiring a good design or marketing agency that can work with you right from the beginning and make sure your brand is everything it should be to make your business a success. More importantly, make sure whoever you hire asks a lot of questions. Whoever creates the brand for your new business should be knowledgeable enough about your company to create something effective and be able to anticipate future branding needs.
What visuals do you think are mandatory when branding a new business? Is there something I missed on this list? Do you have any tips for branding a new business? Let me know in the comments below!
If you want to learn more about branding and brand strategy, I strongly recommend reading Creating a Brand Identity: A Guide for Designers by Catharine Slade-Brooking. It’s the best book I’ve read that details the entire branding process from start to finish. It’s definitely meant for designers, but if you’re trying to brand a new business with no budget for design or marketing, this book will help you figure out how to do some of it yourself.
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