Branding: The memorable rim on the wheel
Branding is the core foundation of your startup that is necessary to make your product or service blossom and grow. “Branding” is a commonly used marketing term that refers to a distinctive image, usually in the form of a logo or company mark that represents a company or product. In recent years a company’s brand has become an asset with a financial worth known as “brand equity”. The marketing use of the word “brand’ is borrowed from the process of burning a rancher’s mark into the hide of a calf for identification purposes. When building your brand, the following checklist is helpful for making your startup bloom.
What is the meaning behind the message your product and/or service represents?Coaching: Try writing the history of why you are starting this venture and what is the deeper meaning behind why you are doing this and what you hope the legacy of the new venture will be in the market place. Review the history and pull out any information that seems relevant toward the meaning. Then write up some draft messages you hope to communicate when marketing the product or service.
What is the brand essence of your new product or service?Coaching: The brand essence of your venture is the “heart and soul” behind the product and service you plan to develop; the core DNA of your product or service. The brand essence is the foundation of your brands true identity and the brand essence typically stays the same over time. An example of brand essence is the medical corporation International Patient Assistance Centre headquartered in Singapore. A review of the corporation’s website (http://www.ipac.sg/en/About/1) leads one to believe the brand essence for the medical company is “dedicated and experienced patient care teams”. If you are not able to come up with the brand essence for your venture try reverse engineering the process by asking yourself what would you like the brand essence of your venture to be and then make a list of action items you would have to do to achieve creating a company with this type of brand essence.
Coaching: What sets our brand apart from that of the competition?
Try answering the following:
“What is distinctive about the brand?
What differentiates this brand from the competitor’s?
How do customers perceive the brand?
What emotion does the brand evoke?
Who appreciates the brand? Why?
What do customers get from the brand?
Where do customers go to find the brand?
What do customers see in the brand that the founders didn’t?”2
Source: “Understanding the Essence of Brand Advantages” questions reprinted with permission from Mentorography, Inc. © 2008. All Rights Reserved. Entrepreneurial Marketing; Real Stories and Survival Strategies by Molly Lavik and Bruce Buskirk, Branding that Works, page 79.
What can you do from the start to make sure that others cannot use the mark or brand name?Coaching: Investigate what the trade-marking regulations are for protecting your brand. What are the governmental processes for securing a trademark for your brand? “Trade marking” is the process one goes through to register with a government entity the text and or visual depiction of your business name and, if applicable, the business mark that accompanies the venture. A “logo” is the word utilized typically to describe the visual depiction of the business name.
If you plan to trademark your logo or the text version of your business name for protection you can find out the necessary details of this process at the World Intellectual Property Organization at:
As of October 27, 2008, countries’ statuses are listed regarding the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks and the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks. View this information at:
Looking for inspiration?
You can find many examples of logos in the process of being trademarked in the United States through the United States Trademark and Patent Office website that posts online “The Trademark Gazette”. Here is an example of one issue of The Trademark Gazette: http://www.uspto.gov/web/trademarks/tmog/20081230_OG.pdf.6
Once you have secured the trademark for your business name, you then process a legal standing to protect against other businesses using your company name in the category you are doing business in. Trademarks are considered assets to a business and have a monetary value if and when you want to sell or merge your venture.
The Brand Identity Guide: A blueprint toward successOnce you have developed your business name into a logo and are in the process of trade-marking that name, many entrepreneurs begin widespread use of the logo in marketing materials to raise awareness of their product or service to their targeted customers. Well-known branded businesses assign someone the task of making sure the logo is properly utilized, with the correct color ink, in the correct size, in the correct location of the page layout especially when used in conjunction with other logos. A style guide for the use of the logo is often called a “brand identity guide”.
Blog Back 4: Brand Identity
Blog Back: Brainstorm the development of a Brand Identity Guide to illustrate the use of your logo in any materials you or others create to market the product or service you would like to create.
What is your brand essence?
What is your brand advantage?
What font and font size will you utilize for your logo?
What if any visual image/drawing/illustration will accompany the text of your logo?
What colors will you utilize for your logo? Using the pantone color chart, select the exact color(s) you wish to utilize.
Will your logo be depicted differently if it’s used in a horizontal vs a vertical page lay out?
What is the smallest size your logo can appear?
What rules govern your logo’s use when it appears with logos from other companies such as may be the case with a sponsorship?
In what countries would you like to trademark your logo?
Is there anything else you would like to share about the brand you plan to create?
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