Brand identity for startups: the logo

Can you make me a logo?“  I have had this request three times this week.  It turns out that one of the requests came from a pre-launch startup.  I know the founders, understand their vision, and have worked with them for several months brainstorming, etc.  Fulfilling their request was easy.  I understand their target market, positioning, and product.  Beginning to build them a brand identity is a reasonable request.

But when a unfamiliar startup asks me the same question, its a lot harder to deliver without doing the proper diligence.

“But its just a logo?!”

Dude, its a basic building block for your company, that’s why you want one so badly.

A logo is a nice end goal but in order to create an effective one, we need to understand what it represents.  The logo is a major component of branding and the corporate brand is rooted in intuition.  Not the intuition of the CEO or management team but of the customer.  The term “branding” was first used to describe a burnt image into flesh using a hot poker.  A corporate brand’s goal is to be burnt into the brain, to be experienced and intuitively translated into objective associations.  Companies compete for this neural real estate.  So, we have our work cut out for us.

For a brand to launch it needs a strategy that incorporates, the names, colors, icons, imagery, and most importantly the desired positioning  reflected in the message.  Many entrepreneurs operate under the fallacy that if you have a superior product the rest will come.  You have heard the cliches about great products staying on shelves or about large percentages of companies failing.  Both of these primarily, and for arguments sake only, exist because of lack of marketing.  Branding (and the logo) are worth getting right before you launch.

Here’s what I do when I work with a company on their brand:

  1. Do my homework – I read what the founders give me, do my own research and make my own assumptions
  2. Understand the target market – what makes this company different and new?
  3. Listen to what the founders want their company to stand for.  Brainstorm for adjectives, draw pictures, anything emotionally based.
  4. Use my tools – simple things like a thesaurus and google! What do these things mean to other people?
  5. I sleep on it
  6. Iterate through steps 1 – 5 as needed

Sometimes, I can’t figure out how to achieve an A+.  Usually its because the product is so new and different just about anything would do, or the founders haven’t done their homework and don’t quite have a grasp on the ‘what‘ and ‘why‘.

Here are a few samples of my work:

company that makes products for disabled persons, including braille books.

standard moving company.

stealth company, you decide.

SoCal based business co-op.

In summary:  1) define your target market based on your research, 2) hire someone that understands the fundamentals of branding AND knows design software, and 3) make your decision based on “logic” and what makes you happy!  After all, you have to like it.

Please post comments on your thoughts and initial reactions.  If you have any questions .. just ask!

For further reading on the topics above check out:
The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille – huge favorite
Clotaire Rapaille – Reptilian Marketing – MUST WATCH! – video
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Marketing – fundamentals for the marketing n00b

Props to Chris Gammill for the conversations leading up to this post and help editing!

  • feijing

    yes i like this logo,you are a creative man.

  • what is - the graph?

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