When my co-founder Eric and I started Equivity in 2014, we were still formulating an idea of what we wanted our business to be. We knew we wanted to help busy professionals and small businesses by providing both personal assistant and administrative assistant services, however, the details were still a work in progress.
My background is in marketing, and I had worked on three separate rebrands at other companies. Therefore, I was adamant that branding and a clear, thoughtful visual identity needed to be established early on rather than as an add-on later in the game. Eric respected my expert opinion (actually, he really just humored me,) so while he started working on the business end of things, I started on branding by immediately calling a brilliant graphic designer I had worked with in the past, Brian Cox of Brian Cox Design. The reason I was so adamant about putting our visual identity development in the forefront of our efforts can best be summed up by Brian directly.
The visual identity of a brand is a powerful asset that catches the eye of consumers and makes a first impression. That impression may very well form before a potential customer even knows who the company is or what a company does. When executed effectively, it will differentiate and elevate the brand above and beyond its competition. A successful visual identity offers a nod to a company’s inherent personality and values, and will provide clarity, consistency, and an emotional connection for the customer. It should also be a foundation for the customer to build trust and loyalty by promoting authenticity and dependability.
How Equivity Found its Brand
Our primary area of focus that we wanted Brian’s assistance with was the creation of a logo, one of the most important first steps in creating a brand. When we met with him, after preliminary discussions about the company and our vision, he provided us with a strategic analysis questionnaire to kick off the project and acquire information in a data-driven format. The questions focused on a variety of areas including our mission, vision, and values, goals; the company’s strengths and weaknesses; and ultimately, what the identity should communicate.
As Eric and I worked on answering Brian’s questions, we found that the kinds of questions a graphic designer asks in order to help design a company logo are the same questions one should ask themselves in order to define who they are as a company and what the value of their services will be. It was then we realized we had not thought hard enough nor considered our company’s purpose as deeply as we needed to.
One of the major things that sticks out in my head was when he asked us what was different about us than our competitors. It was a bit scary at first to realize that we couldn’t quite articulate how we would differentiate our new business from our competitors. How could we break into the market without providing our own, unique value proposition? Thinking about our logo allowed us to crystalize what would make us different – we would offer dedicated, US-based virtual assistant services from seasoned professionals and specialists. And thinking about what differentiated us, in turn, allowed us to make important decisions about the logo we should adopt.
How Your Small Business Can Create a Logo
Your logo is the visual identity of your company as well as a representation of its values, goals, and the products or services it offers. To create a logo appropriate for your small business, you’ll want to ask yourself these important questions.
- Who am I? Take a long look at who you are as a company, what your product or service is, and what you have to offer customers. You can’t move forward in branding your business if you don’t know who you are, what you have to offer others and why they should care.
- How do I want to be perceived? You’ve established who you are, but how do you want people to see you? Innovative? Reliable? Modern? Knowledgeable? In order to create a design that reflects who you are, you’ll want to decide what kind of message you want to send as well. Your image needs to be tethered to reality. While you can emphasize particular features of your business, don’t try pretending to be whatyou’re not.
- What makes me different? Every industry has competitors, so it is crucial to define what makes your offerings different (and better) than your competitors. If you don’t, you’ll wind up in a “Where’s Waldo” situation, buried in a sea of similar faces.
- Who is my target audience? Advertising and promoting your business means much more than ad placement. It also includes carefully creating a marketing strategy—everything your company does in order to attract clients to the business—and determining who your ideal customers are in order to appropriately target and attract them. Your logo, which is a part of your marketing efforts, should also speak to that audience.
In the end, we found that our real strength was going to be in providing high quality assistants who were experts in their field; professional writers and editors for blogging and marketing content, bookkeepers and accounting professionals to handle clients’ QuickBooks, experienced paralegals to help small law and solo law attorneys, and C-level executive assistants. Finding these superstars is no easy task, but it’s what separates us from the other virtual assistant services out there. The comprehensive process we went through when designing our visual identity ended up being an integral component to making us proactively examine who we are as a company and how we want to convey that. Rather than allowing branding to be an afterthought, we made it a primary focus, and that helped us not only create a logo but establish our business’ niche, which was critical for our long-term success.
Many thanks to Brian for his insight and expertise in writing this blog (and of course our branding back in the day) for any of our readers looking for an awesome person to do a branding (or brand refresh), I wholeheartedly recommend contacting Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.