Starting a new business means setting up systems, purchasing equipment and a dozen other critical tasks, including putting together a brand package with key graphic assets that will support your new endeavor.
To make a splash in your professional space and convey the polished image you want for your young company, it’s important to have everything from an eye-catching logo to branded collateral lined up and ready to use when you open your doors. Your needs for graphic assets will expand as your business grows, but these essentials will start you off on the right foot.
Your logo is the first priority. This key element needs to be unique, memorable and visually appealing – not just for your target market but for your own enjoyment, as you’ll be seeing a lot of it!
- Do your homework to decide what look you’re going for at the outset. Once you’re reviewing options, make sure your proposed logo doesn’t look similar to others and seek feedback from potential clients. You and the designer may like it, but your logo must hold wide appeal to effectively support strong branding.
- Your logo package should include images in a variety of formats: .jpg, .png, .eps and .svg, with multiple resolutions for use on screen and in print. (Be aware that .eps files are the most critical, as a .jpg or .png will be worthless if you ever need to make the logo file larger.) Remember to make a tiny version for use as a favicon.
- Your package should contain a reversed logo (all white) as well as the color version. Be sure your logo looks good in all black, too, as some places it may appear (e.g. newspapers) will show only black text/graphics on a white background.
- You’ll need logo color profiles for Pantone, CMYK and RGB.
- You may need alternative logo orientations. For example, horizontal logos should also be presented in stacked form, both with and without the associated tagline.
- Have a contract clearly spelling out deliverables and ownership rights. A designer may reserve the right to display the logo or brand material in a portfolio but you need to own the design and have the documentation to prove it.
- Understand how the logo should be used. Most logos have a safe space, meaning it requires clear surrounding area. Include this information in your brand standards guide. Every business needs one, but it’s okay to create this guide a little farther down the road if necessary. For now, a brief document that includes the color palette, safe space and preferred fonts will suffice.
- Most new businesses are on a budget, but in my professional opinion it’s best to steer clear of inexpensive online design sites and stock logos. In graphics, you get what you pay for. Instead, look into options like bartering your services for graphic content from an experienced professional. You can also reach out to a local university with a design program. Portfolio development is a key requirement for students, especially the real-world application of designs. Often students, young designers or freelancers who are building a portfolio will charge a reduced rate for logo and brand package development. However, don’t allow them to do it for free; do pay for this service, whoever provides it.
Once the logo is finalized, you’ll want to decide on other colors that work well with it to support your brand on the web and in print. Work with the designer to create a color palette for your brand and add this information to your graphics package, including breakdowns of Pantone, CMYK, RGB and Hex codes.
Be sure that you purchase any proprietary fonts your logo uses or ask the designer to utilize one of the numerous free fonts available. (Google Fonts is an amazing resource for finding open-source fonts you can use at no cost, even for commercial purposes.) If the logo fonts are proprietary or hand-lettered, ask the designer to choose fonts to use in other settings. You don’t always have to stick to these, of course, but it’s nice to define a set so you know what to use on which types of content. That consistency is especially important when your business is just getting started.
Your brand package also includes the tangibles that carry your logo – number one being your business card. Ask your designer for help creating an attractive, professional business card that displays your logo to its best advantage. You’ll want to hand that out often while you’re just getting started and beyond. Other common branded collateral needs include:
- Mailing label or envelope
- PowerPoint template
- Templates for invoices, proposals and anything else you might need to send out on a regular basis
- Specialty items like t-shirts or even vehicles. While you may not be ready to purchase these items right away, now is the time to have them mocked up.
Shelling out scarce funds at the outset can be stressful, but this investment is one that will pay off long-term. Enjoy the design process and keep in mind that what you’re creating now will help your new business grow and thrive for years to come.
Written by Kyle Henn, Marketing Manager