Create brands, not businesses. Branding for beginners.

Why creating a logo is simply not enough for thriving businesses

Lina Mass
Lina Mass
Feb 5 · 8 min read

It’s easier than ever before to start your own business. Because of that, there are more products to choose from.

– How your products differ from the competition?

– Why customers should choose your product instead of another if every product has a logo on it?

– What does a logo say about your company?

“The Brand Gap” Image by Marty Neumeir

What is a logo?

Simply put, a logo is a unique design or symbol that represents an organization.

Logo makes your company’s product or services and company as a whole to be discovered, remembered and for repeated interactions — recognized.

Logo primary function is to be identified. It does not say anything about your product or company.

You can buy a logo for as low as 5$. There is million premade logo available now on stock websites. It’s just a cute symbol.

Logo is only the tip of the iceberg.

Without the pyramidal branding support beneath, a logo without branding strategy will never withstand market demands.

What is a brand?

Hint: it’s not your logo. Nor it is your identity, nor your product. And it may at least double your business market value.

The definition is far more complicated.

1. The brand is a gut feeling

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.

A brand is what people feel and experience in their gut during the interaction with the brand or afterward.

It is a gut feeling because people are emotional intuitive beings.

It’s a person’s gut feeling because brands are defined by individuals, not companies, markets, or the public.

A great brand perfectly captures the emotions that people experience when they interact with your company, whilst also representing what your business believes in, what makes them unique.

2. The brand is a personality

If your brand was human, what type of person would it be? How it would make you feel? What words would you use to describe it?

A brand is your company’s personality.

By deciding how you will take care of your customer support, how will you package your products or what quality services you will provide you are choosing the characteristics of personality.

“A charismatic brand is any product, service, or organization for which people believe there is no substitute”– Martin Neumeier, 2005

Truly great brands exude charisma and magnetism that engages people.

Example of Brand personality:

The exact same services can have an absolutely different personality. As “Lyft” came after “Uber”, they knew they had to be different. So they took their branding and culture in the opposite direction. And they won as “Uber” was slammed by the press for it’s cold, unfriendly, and ruthless sheen.

3. The design is essential but the design is not brand

The combination of the three elements (logo, identity, and brand) helps to influence the gut feeling and the perception of the brand.

Identity creates emotion by the collection of tangible visual elements that together create one brand image.

And finally as mentioned above — logo makes possible for a customer to identify the brand.

The design is essential but the design is not Brand. Logo without strategy and values attached to it is worth nothing.

There is no unique, simple and never used shape of a logo, no unexpected color combinations for identity. There are too many businesses with a logo.

Create brands not businesses — M.j. de marco.

Focus on creating a Brand, not a business.

How to influence the character of the Brand?

If you had a farm in America’s Wild West age, you would have literally “brand” your animal stock with the red hot iron stating that this cow is your property.

Early businesses adopted simple branding to avoid forgery, but the postwar consumer explosion took it to another level when men in suits realized that people tend to bond with brands by creating an emotional connection.

You can implement these tactics with simple, but not easy, steps.

Step 1. Provide brand values to connect with

This is where a lot of modern brand strategy is targeted. Logo created by associating it with values and giving them a deeper meaning made possible for people to relate to them and make a connection.

As we tend to build TRUST among people who relate to the same values, the exact situation is with the Brands. Remember Brand is a personality. We trust the ones we can relate to.

Step 2. Focus on building T R U S T

People are incredibly time poor and are forced to make quick decisions from minimal information.

1 People have too many choices and too little time
2. Most offerings have similar qualities and features
3. We tend to base our buying choices on trust

There are too many choices in the market and customer is in lack of time. Most offerings have similar features. Trust is the base on which people consciously or unconsciously base the decision to buy.

“The Brand Gap” Image by Marty Neumeir

Brand has to walk the talk. To make a promise and to keep it.

If you say you deliver products in 2 days, but in reality it takes up to 7 days — people will distrust you.
If all communication materials speaks that you are a high-end professional company and it takes 3 days+ to responce to an email or phone call — people will distrust you.
If your site is full of childish colors and you claim for producing high quality products — people will distrust you.

Nobody trusts a duck that swims like a dog.

Have a vision for your brand — make a promise. And deliver it.

Really it is that simple.

Step 3. Inferred meaning of a brand promise is crucial

Buying decisions are often driven by inferred meaning from your branding alone, so getting a clear and effective message out there is the key to influencing consumers.

Illustration by Austin Kleon.

Identify where your customers are and where do you want to bring them. This can be done by simply answering these two questions:

1. Where your customers are? what pain points do they have?
2. Where do you want to bring them, how you can solve their problems?

And the Gap between these two answers is the bridge between two poles in the picture above. This bridge can be the base of a Brand Promise.

Brand promise is a dreamland where you promise to take your customers to. To deliver products on promised delivery time. To create services in promised quality.

Example of a Brand Promise

Domino pizza noticed that there is some kind of dissatisfaction about pizza delivery services in the market. Most of the orders were late (delivery time was far beyond the one that was promised). So they made a Brand promise “30 minutes, or free”. And they kept it. Delivered on time, or the customer did not have to pay for it.

No need to mention that sales went up.

Pure clarity of the brand promise message is the power.

Step 5. Control the interaction points with your brand

It all matters. The font, the color, the look and feel of photography you are using, the tone of voice…

And it all takes time. But there has to be a start somewhere.

It’s the whole experience of interaction with your brand. How you answer the phone, how you solve customer support issues, the tone of voice, the manner how you serve coffee at the meeting, does product quality meets the expectation of a customer, the experience of unpacking? Everything counts in building a sustainable brand.

Still not sure, start with Why

Having a vision for your company helps a lot in a Brand-building process. It can be like a starting point to which companies decisions and actions can align every now and then.

According to Simon Sinek Golden Circle theory, every company on the planet knows what they do. These are products they sell or the services they offer:

- We make pizzas
- Provide a shared drive servises
- Sell food for beloved Youtube video cats…

Some of them even know how they do it, what makes them special and set them apart from the competition. Whether it is the delivery time or friendly personality characteristics, or eventually the price.

Very few organizations know why they do what they do. No, why is not about your aim to earn a million. That won't take you far. Why is not about making money — that’s a result. It should be a cause, a purpose, a belief. It’s the very reason why your organization exists.

Start with why.

When you know what you do, how you do and WHY you do it, you can start to amplify the rest part of the questionnaire. This would be the starting point of building the brand.

Now you need a designer.

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Ready to create your brand?

I create thoughtful and meaningful logos with a strategy that truly represents your business values and sets you to achieve goals.

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Lina Mass

Written by

Lina Mass

Brand and visual identity designer. Curious soul. Life long learner. Interested in design thinking, human behavior, and psychology.

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