I recently received an email from a passionate lady starting off on a new event planning business. She was wondering how important it was to go into this process with a truly solidified brand she was proud of. Like so many other creatives venturing off onto new business quests this year, branding is sure to come up as a ‘should I? / shouldn’t I?’ situation. When there are so many costs to consider, the thought of spending a significant amount of your budget on branding right at the beginning deserves a little thinking over. As a designer and a lover of a great brand identity, when I started my own freelance journey I would have told you that it was an absolute necessity. After working with creative entrepreneurs over the past couple years, and seeing the various sides of where their business were at when they decided to take on a new brand identity, I have completely flip flopped.
So…if you’re a new business with a small budget looking to brand yourself, my best advice would be to WAIT! Crazy, huh?
The time with the most changes for any business will be in those first couple of years. Your goals might change, your vision might change, and most importantly, the values of your business might change as you go about figuring things out. As a designer who builds brands around values, having those change as your business is growing is a definite sign that you will need a completely new identity design when you work out the kinks and start moving on. Some of my most successful clients and branding projects have come from working with creative entrepreneurs who took the time to work on growing their businesses with an identity that got them by until they reached the point where they really knew their voice and values as a brand. This is essential. It can make months, or years, but it often comes with the feeling that you have the background knowledge and confidence to move forward, but knowing that you need to step it up visually for your brand to come together to reach your full potential. Now’s the time.
From here, you’ll be able to work with your designer to build a brand that will last you five to ten years before you need a little refresh — not a complete overhaul. That is always my goal when working with my clients, and I try and base design decisions around timeless elements that can grow with the brand rather than something that shows its age a few years later by using a too-trendy trend. My blog, my terms here, ok? ;)
So what do you do in the meantime? Hire a student! Go to a college with a reputable graphic design program, and post on their job board. Reach out via craigslist, or ask your college friend’s niece who is taking that course in typography. You will get an identity that will do you fine for the time being, and you will be supporting someone who would love to have some real-life experience to build up their resume and portfolio. You could also look to Etsy and search pre-made brands that could also get you by for the time being. These are often-times designs that will give you a nice look and feel, but that lack a true individualism and value-based identity that is true to your brand. Lastly, take a go yourself if you have the right software. Pick colors and values that are true to your vision now, and have at it.
When is it right to begin a new business with the identity design in place? When you are a mid-sized business or corporation starting a new venture with a new identity, this is the time to begin with a well-designed identity. You most likely have the budget, a business plan, and you’re rearing to make your new business the best it can be right off the bat. Yay, go for it!
Do any of your have other questions or have any input on this subject? Leave some notes in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you! Have any of you gone through the branding process and wish you did it differently? I’ve totally had my ups and downs when looking back :)