Why Branding Is Worth The Money
When you start a boutique family business with the idea of selling on Etsy you don’t think about branding, you think about keeping your costs down. Despite advice of doing it on the cheap we chose to pay for a branding pro, and it’s the best thing we ever did.
We All Need Branding
Everyone appreciates the benefits of branding, but when you start a small family business, with a small bankroll and a woodshed for a HQ it generally isn’t the first thing on your mind. For us in fact, it was very far down the list. Until after setback after setback, I felt it was something we needed to do.
My wife was a Graphic Designer, so she knows the work that goes into good branding projects and subsequently the reason they come at a cost. I on the other hand, was pretty clueless. When we decided that it was a good idea to start getting the branding sorted (about a year in) we started looking around for ideas. I devoured anything on Google about branding for small businesses and kept arriving at the same answer.
Given that we didn’t have any products yet, we needed to keep it cheap. For now, a discount online design service was the way ahead.
At this point, my wife stepped in. Not only did she school me on the questionable ethics some of these sites display towards their designers, but she also told me she knew exactly who she wanted to do the branding for her business.
“I’m happy to wait, but if you want to do the branding now, it needs to be done right, and for me there’s only one person I trust to do it the way I want it done”
Truth be told, I wanted the branding done. The stress from the challenges and roadblocks we’d faced over the previous nine months were starting to add up. The clarity of what we were trying to achieve when we sat down to write the Business Plan was fading, and I thought that if we had the branding package in place, things might feel a bit more, legit.
I say ‘we’ a lot when I write about the family business, but it’s my wife’s business, let’s be clear on that. It’s her passion and dedication that’s carried it from an aspiration to something we are both passionate about building, so when it came to the branding question, It was clear the best bet was to do it her way.
Finding The Right Designer
When it comes to generating artwork that defines your business, it’s important to spend the time researching who ends up in charge of defining it. It’s important to spend the time speaking to designers, trying to get to know them. If they aren’t keen to do so, move on to the next one. You need to get a feel for what do they stand for. Do they understand your business? Does it excite them?
This sounds obvious, but for small business like ours it’s a daunting task, particularly if unlike us, you don’t have the benefit of a design background and a close friend who you know will do a great job.
We were lucky, we were able to skip potentially difficult step. My wife knew exactly who she wanted — a close university friend that just happens to be both extremely talented and intellectually aligned with everything our business stands for.
This is the gold plated solution, and absolutely what your designer should be. Do not accept less.
Expect the Design Process To Be In Depth
If you haven’t been through this process before, it’s a fun one. I was really surprised with the depth that designers go to in order to understand what your business is trying to achieve. As I write that, it sounds silly, because what else would a branding expert do? But I’m a Pilot, not a Designer, so I had no idea what to expect.
Over phone calls, emails and questionnaires my wife was able to transplant her perception of the business, and the aspirations she had for it right into the mind of the person that would give birth to it visually. Online sites I’m sure offer some of this service, but the emotional side of doing it through a traditional Designer is, I think, going to be very hard to beat. Nothing beats being able to pick up the phone to explain something that takes seconds to say, but is deeply significant to the direction your branding takes.
Not only does this process give your Designer what she needs in order to do her job properly, but it brings out all the little subconscious ideas about your business that you never knew you had. It uncovers all the things you felt about your business, but that you didn’t know about your business. It unearths the very visceral core of what you are trying to achieve, and why you want to achieve it.
The process of working with a designer should feel like storyboarding, it should feel like something is being created, and looking back, I don’t think that’s something you’re going to get without the touch of a traditional, experienced Designer or Design Team.
Bringing The Baby Home
Honestly, I had no idea the experience would turn out to be as positive as it was, it really was a seminal part in the birth of our business. Not only did we end up with visual artwork that exceeded our expectations, but we had various motifs and graphics that were the product of the development of little ideas throughout the consultation phase.
When we got the final work back, I quickly started sticking copies of it around the house. Seeing it in print is an amazing feeling, and I keep finding myself saying..
“I want to stencil the logo here, a big one on the door, and a little one over there”
It sounds silly, but seeing a concise collection of artwork that embodies everything you are trying to achieve has been the single biggest reminder that we are moving forward. Getting a business bank account was cool, registering as a business was cool, but seeing my wife’s ideas turned into a branding package that gives clarity to what our identity as a business is, really is priceless.
For someone like me who has no background in design, this process has been eye opening. I went into it thinking it probably could be done fairly cheaply, and that we could come back for proper branding once we’d made some sales and importantly some profit. Looking back, I’m so glad we didn’t do that.
Now I understand all the excitement that surrounds branding. It’s a hugely challenging area of expertise, but the product that a talented Designer can provide is something that will prove invaluable to your business. For us, physically seeing a logo, motif and a tag line feels like it’s given us legitimacy, given us confidence, and somehow given us the authority to move forward building something we can be proud of.
We’ve faced some challenges recently, so for us the branding couldn't have come at a better time, it’s clarified our vision for what we stand for as a business, and what we hope to achieve. It's made us realise that we aren’t just looking to be a small boutique business and it’s made us realise that not only do we have big goals, but that those goals are entirely valid.
Our logo isn’t just a logo, it’s a visual reminder whenever we’re working that we’re building something worthwhile, it’s the nucleus of a vision that for so long was trapped inside my wife’s head. That’s a vision that is not only much bigger and much more exciting than we first thought, it’s a vision that’s now both clear and bright, just like our logo.
Jamie is a Father, Husband and Rescue Pilot. He is driven by family, flying, and the journey towards self belief, and realising our goals.