Do I have to have a logo and brand before I start selling my product?

I have a limited budget and am eager to start selling my products to get some revenue. Should I allocate my budget towards advertising/sales right away or do I need a logo first? I've read that a logo and brand is really important, but I'm not sure if it's important enough to put it before sales.

Graphic designers- do you ever make brands & logos for people after they've started selling?

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13

I'll disagree with some here. No, you do not need a brand/logo designed prior to selling products, in fact, there are many cases of businesses starting up without logos. For example, most of the Ebay multi-million dollar merchants do not start with branding.

The simple truth is that branding in the start-up stage can be counter-productive. It's at this stage that you're learning the ropes, making mistakes and as much as you might strive to do the opposite, making customers unhappy. In cases like this, it's best that your brand is not strong so that you can ride through it and develop your processes, before developing your brand and locking your logo into people's psyche.

There are many examples of companies needing to completely rebrand due to mistakes made in the early days. One which springs immediately to mind is the mobile network 3 (UK)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutchison_3G#United_Kingdom

In the early days, their coverage was truly awful and their customer service was even worse. They rebranded multiple times, but as they put a lot of heavy media coverage in, their brand awareness as they were starting up was really high. They are now one of the best UK providers in terms of customer service, but there are people like me who are well aware of what they were and will never use them again.

I'll agree that you don't necessarily need a logo and brand when you're just starting. If you've done a ton of research and know exactly how you'll be meeting customers' needs, having a strong brand to start out will certainly help expand your visibility and build customer loyalty. If not, it may be better to wait for a short time.

Once you've got a good handle on your business, find someone whose experience and sensibility match your vision to help you. You can get a cheap logo off of the Internet, but then you'll be stuck with something generic and, well, cheap-looking. You don't have to spend a fortune, but it's worth investing a moderate amount to develop something that will serve you for the long haul.

8

Hi Lynn,

While I consider your brand identity vital to the success of your business, the truth is that many businesses start selling before establishing a brand identity. That said, a strong identity is an important factor in establishing brand recognition and lending credibility. A well-designed identity also helps in attracting the prospective audience you wish to engage.

Unfortunately, your question is filled with some common misconceptions.

1) Your brand is not just graphic elements (i.e., logos, signage, packaging, etc.). Those things should be a reflection of your overall branding platform. In other words, how you wish to speak to your audience, position your products/services in the marketplace, the promise you make to your customers, all play a role in the success of your brand. A logo is only one small - yet crucial - piece of the branding puzzle.

2) Until you figure out who you are, what you do, who you do it for and why, you are simply wasting your resources. For instance, what are you going to tell people about your product/service in your advertising or sales calls? How are you going to differentiate your offerings in the minds of consumers? Without differentiation, your products/services will fail to stand out and will quickly be forgotten. Getting that stuff right is much more important than any logo, advertising or sales.

3) I've already mentioned it, but a logo is not your brand. Graphics, while important, do not make your brand. Your brand is formed in the minds of consumers and only by the services you provide, the quality of products you make and even the quality of the graphics you use, are you able to help shape a customer's perception.

Hopefully this helps. Feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

8

Lynn,
I must admit that I haven't had a chance to read the responses, so this may have already been said and discussed:

A logo is not a brand. It is more of a "mascot" that visually represents your company.
A "brand" is what your customers perceive of the company. A "brand" normally has a dollar value. If it has no dollar value, it is not a "brand". For example, Apple's brand value is $104 billion.
The logo (which represents the brand) is the picture of the Apple, which has gone through several revisions since Apple started.
For a list of brand values, you can see this link: http://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/list/

As for logo:
We are naturally (biologically and psychologically) visual creatures. Even if no vision, our other senses play a role in how we perceive the world around us.
A visual representation of your company will help your customers to remember you. Think about it this way:
When you see Mercedes logo (a visual icon), first you think: "a car"...that is the function of the logo. Then you think "luxury", which is the function of the brand.

To answer your final question, it is common that logo would follow business growth. Even after that, businesses may change their logo (but not their brand) over time. Apple, Pepsi, and American Airlines are a few examples.

Hope that this helped.

6

Hi Lynn,
We do tons of post-sales branding. Many companies change their logo shortly after launching a product. There are free logo creation sites on the Internet, or find an intern or someone to design one for you on the cheap. Folks with whom we work, if a start-up, usually get a logo and a color palette - a by-the-numbers representation of the colors used in their logo/initial documents.

Having a logo is important. If nothing else, it's a nice "stamp" on everything you produce. This means products, communications, advertising, etc. Even if the log is mediocre, better to start with something and change it when you can afford to. It's expected. Not saying you can't do it without one, but...with the free "build your own" services on the Internet, might as well give it a whirl. I'm not endorsing said free sites, mind you. Just saying if you tinker and come up with something you like and which represents your brand...go for it.

Good luck!

6

I'm in agreement with Dave on this one. I'd say no. For many years my father was a carpenter and my mom was a stay at home mom. My father would do carpentry work for a wide variety of people and my mom sewed clothes and made homemade bread and canned food. Neither of them ever had a logo.

Many people start businesses to sell services and products with just their business name in whatever typeface they think looks appropriate in MS Word. As they generate sales and can afford to really look deeper into the branding and marketing issues they will hire a graphic designer to create a logo for the business. Some companies have gone decades without really having a logo.

One good reason to hold off for a while on the logo is you can test the market and really find your voice and brand's identity through trial and error. For many companies this is the preferable way to go because they really don't know at the outset how to position themselves because they haven't done the market research necessary to fully understand their customers' emotional, rational and physical triggers, their competitors and their marketplace.

Once you have some sales, and a few months, a year, or a few years of experience under your belt you'll be better able to communicate your likes, dislikes, positioning and brand identity to a graphic designer or an marketing communications consultancy.

6

I'm going to fully agree with Dave, here. In the early stages of your company, unless you're running a small boutique, you have little to no idea of who is going to become the majority demographic to whom you cater. This lack of knowledge isn't your fault-- it comes with getting out there in front of real customers! From there, you'll be able to tweak your look, tone, and brand context in order to best suit your users.

Many, many young companies start off with one brand/logo during their early stages, and go through a re-invention period after learning what really works for them. I'd venture a guess that MosaicHUB's founders didn't dream the final concept up on the fly and implement it immediately; there were probably hundreds and hundreds of relevant tweaks to help get their startup headed in the right direction. I suggest you do the same.

Remember: at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your accounting ledger. If your intuition tells you that you'd be better off spending time selling versus establishing a brand guidebook, get out there and sell! =)

All the best,
Collin

5

Lynn,
You do not have to have a logo, however, logo is really your brand and will help customers identify you or differentiate you from others. once the logo is created then everything you do to build credibility will be identified with your logo.
Certainly if you are in hurry and have customers already, there is no legal requirement to have a logo.

5

Hello Lynn!

Your product is just as much as touchpoint of your brand as your business cards, if not, even more. It speaks to the quality and the overall messaging of your brand. With that said, it's imperative that you have your logo and brand identity established if you want to hit the ground running rather than walking. Having a logo and brand identity (chosen typography, colors, etc..) for your products and marketing materials will give you a tight and consistent image for your consumers and competition to see and become aware of.

What you'll want to find is a designer who will be worth the investment. Don't be guided by numbers alone, but by the quality and zeal of that designer. If you don't have the budget to push for such an endeavor, then you'll be better off finding other ways to fund it rather than going to a crowdsourcing site like 99Designs or a logo creation site. If you think good design is expensive, imagine how expensive bad design is!

Best of luck with this, and if you have any further questions, feel free to message me on here. I'd love to help you out in whatever way you need.

5

Yes, we have rebranded companies after they launch.
Alternatively, yes, we have created a brand before it goes to market.

Your logo and brand identify you and should help support and communicate your company and point of difference. It is a tool to help your sales initiatives and set you apart in advertising.

However, as someone pointed out, if its a product initially being marketed on ebay, amazon, etsy, you can start with something clean and simple that doesn't work against you and then create marketing budget based on response and growth. But its a budget decision and not really something you strive to do.

5

Yes, it is best to have a logo and branding first. Your advertising and sales will be far more effective with proper branding. Your brand differentiates you from other choices your customers have. It gives you an identity and image that makes it easy to remember you and pick you out. It is very important if you want repeat business and referrals.

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