A brand is your business’s identity, it’s how people recognize you, what sets you apart and the way in which your business is depicted in a public sense. A brand is what your past present and future customers aspire to. It encompasses your values your aesthetics and should inspire your target market.
In a nutshell, your brand helps to sell your product and drive revenue to your door! Setting up your branding and marketing collateral is one of the most import tasks for any startup. Of course, it can be amended and changed over time – but in 10 days, with the right direction you can set up your branding and basic startup info to get into the market and get selling!
Here are a few tips to setting up a basic brand and collateral in 10 days for your startup.
Day 10 – Engage a marketing expert - When you’re creating your startup, you’re going to need a helping hand. A marketing expert understands all the available collateral items that can be created and also what is ‘important’ for each stage of your startup’s lifecycle.
Marketing experts are focused on actually getting what you need when you need it, rather than creating things at a cost that will just sit on the shelf. For example, you maybe an online startup and create a trade presenter or flyer, which has date or specials on it, you love the look and feel, so you get it printed. But as your product evolves, you no longer offer what you had printed in the first place – therefore you throw out hundreds of dollars in printing when digital files would have been a better way to go.
A marketing expert will have designers at their fingertips that can get the brief and job done quickly and usually at a better price. These experts can guide you through a process, and help you when you are operating outside of your comfort zone.
Day 9 – Create a design plan and brief - With your expert marketer in place, it is time to create a design brief. This is a brief of what you are looking for in terms of design and collateral. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your designer is a mind reader and will understand what you want without a brief, it’s an essential part of the process and it’s important not to miss out on this step.
This document is essentially a design plan, which you, your business and any contractors can work to, ensuring that you get what you need, that everyone understands their part they need to play and that your end goal is achieved.
Day 8 – Engage a talented graphic designer - Designers are visual, technical and will bring your brand to life. The key ahead of engaging a designer is to review their portfolio of work, ensure that you like their past work, also focus on finding a designer that may have worked in similar industries is very beneficial.
Day 7 - Arrange a brand guideline or style guide document - A brand guideline is key to ensuring your brand is consistent across all platforms. Your brand guideline will ensure web design, collateral, branding, marketing, sales, etc. all have the same imagery, look, feel, color, fonts and other elements despite which designer or developer you chose.
A brand guideline will provide you with a clear pathway to move forward in terms of branding and collateral and this will be something that everyone who comes in contact with the business regarding design or printing will deliver exactly what you want.
Day 6 – Create a game plan for your collateral and design needs - Now you have your marketer, designer, a plan and a guide, it is time to work out what you want and what you need.
Some of the collateral and brand items may include:
- Website/social media banners and imagery
- Trade flyer/trade presenter
- Business cards
- Email footers
- Pull up banners
– for tradeshows or events
- Folders/business shirts
- Editable PDF forms/documents
- Editable templates such as PPT and Word files for presentations/proposals
You may need some or all of the above, however depending on your ‘go to market’ strategy you are looking to employ and your budget, your marketing expert can advise what you need and your designer can advise on a budget. Once you approve, you are away.
Day 5 – Agree on a design format - When you have locked in the collateral items needed, it is then important to lock in the format you require the collateral in. For example, you may want to save a few bucks and get everything in PDF and InDesign files so you can have someone edit them or print them at a later date.
Outline what you need printed and which designs will be digital files only - this is important in the design process, as your designer will work to complete the items that need to go to print first.
Day 4 – Review the mock-ups - Once you are happy with what is being produced, you have expressed the look and feel you want and a brand guideline is in place, the designer will go about getting the mock ups done for you.
Between you and your marketing expert, it’s important to not beat around the bush, be critical, if you don’t love it then don’t sign off on it. You will more than likely have 1-2 rounds of edits unless you are paying by the hour, so you have the chance to be sure on what you like. If you don’t love it, send it back.
Day 3 - Finalize all templates and design - With the mock-ups and edits completed then you can get all your files finalized in the formats you wanted. It is always easiest to have these files transferred to a cloud-based storage drive, then you transfer them to your hard drive as required – just make sure you always have back ups.
Ensure that you get not only the PDF file in large format but a low-resolution PDF for email purposes and the editable InDesign file. This is so you can not only email the files as required but have them edited by print shops or other designers – such as web designers – as your start up moves along.
Day 2 – Get to the printer - Now's the time to send all printed collateral to print. Note that items such as t-shirts, pull up banners and pens will take 1-2 weeks to create, however, anything you need in hard copy can be done at printers usually within a day or so.
If you are looking for small runs initially, you will be paying a much higher price per item so be clear about what you need and focus on a 12-month marketing plan to ensure you don’t blow your printing budget in the first print run.
Day 1 – Review and get ready to launch - At this stage, you should have all your templates and design files in a folder ready to go. Your marketing expert has advised what you needed, and your designer has come through with the goods, and you’re all ready and raring to launch.
Having a plan and a brand guide will map out every and all future changes, edits or reworks of your collateral to ensure you are ‘on brand’ and your customers don’t get confused as you change your mind.
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