As Your Startup Matures, So Must Your Brand

June 26, 2015 | Branding, Startups

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Maine Startup and Create Week 2015 has been going full tilt and has been inspirational for myself, my employees and many of my fellow members of the Portland creative economy.

During the week, there have been several sessions devoted to branding, messaging, and the importance of design and design thinking. The fact that each panel has been able to attract large number of attendees and give new and informative wisdom tells just how important these ideas are to starting and scaling your business.

I really enjoyed a quote from Ben Jordan of Ngen Works about rebranding:

80% of people are going to hate your rebrand because it’s change. The question is, are you willing to sell it?

It’s a great reminder. Even if your logo is beautiful and professionally-designed, if there is compelling reason why you need to rebrand—for example your brand identity is not accurately expressing how your want to portray your business—you need to ignore the initial backlash and find an identity that you know will work for your brand.

The timeline of business maturity and logo design

From my experience, here is the typical business maturity compared to brand identity.

Logo and business maturity

Your start up logo

You have no outside funding, and may not even have revenue. Therefore, having the budget to pay for professional designers and smart branding is often limited. This is often the point when founders turn to friends, relatives and low-cost (you get what you pay for) solutions to develop their first logo, web site, and more.

Early Revenue Phase Logo

The second phase is when you start to have a viable business. You have clients, revenue and maybe investors. Usually by this point, many people have told you how poor your “starter logo” looks and you’re ready to pay for a professional designer.

Clarity

In the previous phase, you may have a professionally designed logo, but it may not connect well with your core audience. Or, you may have finally figured out a better format for your service and pivoted into a more viable position. When you finally gain that clarity, it’s likely that you’ll realize you need to rebrand.

The initial reaction to logos from this phase may be that many people hate it. This is just a reaction to change. If your new logo is well-designed and better connects with your ideal clients you are in a better place. Ride the wave, and in the end you’ll start hearing about how the new logo “is growing on them.”

Finally, a Strong Brand

This is is the final outcome of a well-done re-branding. As you use your logo in different marketing applications and you see how it continues to serve you well as your business continues to expand with new offerings, you’ll know you did the right thing.

It is a longer journey than many expect.

Don’t forget if you continue to pivot you may need to go back to the clarity phase and rebrand.

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