As business owners, most of us understand the paramount importance of having a professionally designed logo. A great logo is the cornerstone and hallmark of your business identity, but sometimes it can present visual problems when it’s used across multiple mediums. For instance, the logo may look beautiful on letterhead, but when uploaded to the company Facebook page, it gets cut off or shrinks so small that it’s virtually unreadable. Our company wanted to order customized pens one year; after hours of tinkering, we simply could not get the logo to “sit” right, so we went with magnets instead. Talk about frustrating!
You don’t have to be frustrated, though. When a logo is created by an experienced design company, those needs are anticipated from the beginning. The design company will spend very exclusive and allotted time on crafting and perfecting your logo, but that’s not the end. Once your main logo design is chosen, they will work that logo into several different-looking versions to be used for most any application you desire. Don’t have multiple versions of your logo? Not to worry. Even a current logo can be reworked to give your business the flexibility it needs when presenting itself across multiple media outlets.
Sometimes we think of names as more permanent than they really are. Many businesses go through successful name changes that help them grow, and it may be time for your business to do the same. Some reasons to change your business name may include:
a poor public image associated with your current name
your current name is too complicated or too long
what you do as a business has grown and changed
ownership has changed
your current name is culturally outdated and irrelevant
Do not change your name if it currently has strong brand equity.
If people have a positive association with your name and brand, trying to change it could end up costing you more than it’s worth. If a name change would confuse your customers and cause them to leave your business, it may not be worth it. If it is working, keep it.
Check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure the name is available.
You will also want to see if the domain name is open to facilitate a change in your website. Doing both of these things is a great way to ensure that your new name won’t cost you in legal fees.
If you have decided that a change is needed, but don’t know how to manage the process, we have a list to get you started.
Think about how much you want to dissociate or associate your current name with your new name. If you are trying to distance yourself from your previous brand, you will want to consider a new logo to go with your new name. If you want customers to associate the new brand with the old name, consider using the same logo or similar colors or images to help with the transition.
Notify the Secretary of State of the name change.Many states have an online form that you can fill out, and most charge a fee to register a new name. This is also a good way to make sure your new name is not in use somewhere else in your state. If you previously filed a “Doing Business As” name with your local government, you will want to go through this process again for your new name.
You must also notify the IRS of your name change.Make sure that all bank loans and leases reflect the new name. Look into the requirements for a new EIN (Employee Identification Number). Often you don’t need a new EIN when you change names, but there are exceptions. You need to understand what is required in your state for your type of business.
A new name may mean a new domain name and a new website.You need to evaluate the success of your current website to determine how much it should change.
– If you are using a Facebook page, changing the name is extremely difficult and starting a new page could cause you to lose subscribers.
– Check to make sure the new name is available on Twitter.
– Don’t forget about updating your LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest sites as well.
– You also need to change your business name on Yelp and Google, so new customers can find you.
– Don’t forget the paper parts of your company: letterhead, business cards, paycheck, etc.
Create a timeline to guide you and your customers methodically and intentionally through the process. A little planning goes a long way in keeping your current customers. Let them know the change is coming, and then keep them updated through the process. Your timeline needs to take into account the legal deadlines you will have as well. Make sure your employees are aware of the timeline as well, so they can help customers during the transition.
If you know that it’s time for a change, contact Riley & You to help make the change go smoothly. We can help you find a perfect name and logo for your company that accurately reflects your brand. We can also help evaluate your old website and create a new one. No matter where you are in the process, contact us today.
When a client commissions a new website design or requests a revamp on an existing website, I hear the sweet siren song of a hundred fun, design-y questions that I can’t wait to ask: What kind of look and feel are you envisioning? Do you have color preferences? What type of style and tone is most effective for your audience?
After all, as a designer, I want to design! I like organizational, structural details as much as the next person (actually, maybe more), but the sooner I can sink up to my neck in color palettes and typefaces, the merrier I’ll be. However, as tempting as it can be to immediately direct clients into this sort of visual territory, doing so can trigger an avalanche that will eventually waste countless hours and blow the client’s budget into tiny fragments of gloom.
Site Navigation and Content
For a long time, I began most of my website design projects with site navigation and content, and was thankful later on that I did. Most designers agree that site navigation and content are paramount. I agree; I won’t create a single wireframe until we successfully chart the entire site map, organize levels of navigation, and confirm content.
In recent years, however, certain experiences have reframed my approach when starting a website project. So if designers shouldn’t jump right into visual, design-oriented conversation or navigation and content, what is the first question?
Before All Else: Identity
At the start of any website project, I steer the client toward a basic and fundamental building block of the design world: identity.
I used to think that initiating a conversation about company identity – when I’ve only been asked to create a website – would either waste time or potentially cause my clients to think they were being assaulted with an awkward sales pitch to create a new logo or letterhead. (Trust me, I’m no salesperson; I spend my time with colors).
Here’s how I might guide the conversation: So you’re thinking of a new website? Great! Before we jump into those details, I’d like to talk with you about your company identity – things like logo and branding. In order to create the best website possible, we want to start with the best identity possible. How effective is the current state of your company’s identity?
Notice that I don’t ask, Do you like your current logo? Or, Are you satisfied with your branding? Even clients who love their logo, for example, can grow used to seeing it, and they don’t often have a good reason to rethink its present effectiveness or consumer appeal. My goal is to encourage a helpful and productive time for the client to reflect on his or her current identity and its success or breakdown.
Experience Is The Best (and Most Painful) Teacher
My experience has taught me to begin with a close look at a client’s current identity and branding. In one case, I was almost done with a website job when it suddenly came to light that the client was unsatisfied with their logo. They seemed fine with it when the project started, and it wasn’t until the final stages of the website design that they expressed their concern. Ultimately, we ended up changing their logo, which then required an overhaul on much of the site.
The moral of the story? Ask questions about identity before you ask one single question about the requested website. This will offer your client the best service possible by providing a thoughtful opportunity to consider the foundation of their marketing.
If my client is satisfied with his or her company identity and its success, then I can move on to questions about the website project. But if he or she has questions, reservations, or concerns about his or her identity’s efficacy, I now have a wonderful opportunity to generate dialogue, offer direction, and ultimately help my client achieve a foundational identity that garners long-term and widespread profit. That will serve them far better than a shiny, new website!
Hey, do you need a logo? Pick us! We do logos for less!
Honestly, do you think this pitch would work on your company or organization? Everyone knows they need a logo, but not everyone knows how to brand.
Over the past three years Riley & You has been the clean up crew after companies have purchased cheap, poorly contrived, under-performing logos. These companies purchased a single graphic that has no ability to work in the wide variety of formats and situations that their promotions demand.
We don’t like to be negative, but you need to know the truth about what these shortcuts can cost. When your company purchases a cheap logo, hoping to save money, it can cause a costly delay in the promotion of your business. One clever graphic is not the answer to all of the demands of your growing company. When you run your business, you don’t hire average, low-cost, under-performing employees to represent your company to the public. So why would you use an average, low-cost, under-performing logo to take your brand to the world?
As you can tell, we see the bigger picture, and we deliver something totally different. We want to do it right from the beginning, so you can get exactly what your company needs. Take this cautionary message to heart. Save yourself delays in promotions and contact us today about creating a quality logo for your company that could ultimately cost you less.
Owner of Riley & You, Riley Appliance Marketing
Small business owners are entrepreneurs creating their own paths to success, and creating an identity has everything to do with whether or not your small business is surviving and thriving. Without a specific statement of who you are, your value proposition, and what separates you from your competition, you are eventually doomed to fail.
Maybe we should have started this article on an upbeat note to be more positive, but the industry trends for small businesses were less than positive over the past few years. When 2008 hit, every business took one straight to the jaw, and no one could keep doing business as usual. Closures, bankruptcies and downsizing killed businesses without a strong identity.
Our team has been working in the appliance and retail industry for many years, and we have seen tired brands with no identity drop off the map. Long before the money issues came to the surface, some business owners were thrashing about from one idea to the next. They had no idea how to catch the ongoing attention of their audience.
Now is the time to stop and rethink who you are in your industry. When a customer walks in your door, talks with you over the phone and tries to make a purchase, did he or she really understand your value and your unique offerings? If you relegate customers to a price guarantee message in your advertising, they immediately throw you into the price-war pile with every big box store and chain that has no identity besides constant advertising. Here are some ideas that will help you establish your identity:
1. Start conversations with groups of employees and ask them about your identity; that will give you your first glimpse of reality.
2. Ask your employees to share what people say about your company.
3. Look at your advertising through the eyes of your customer. Do you present a low-price message with taglines constantly presenting product price, product price, product price?
4. Do you have a mission statement that is clear and easy to communicate?
5. What are the top five things that you do differently than your competition? Can your employees easily communicate those five differentiators?
6. And most importantly, where are the opportunities for growth in your market place? How can you take advantage of them?
With a quick study of those succeeding in the industry today, you will find out what works. Some retailers have chosen to go the online route and their success is astounding. If you look inside their operations, you would see more than just a well run website. They have rethought who they are in order to be dynamic online and by phone – selling and delivering at a different level. The retailers setting new trends in showroom appearance and presentation have rethought every detail of how they engage with clients.
All of these unique players have embraced a specific identity that is leading them to great success.
So find your identity or get out of the way because customers want more than a price guarantee. Identity sets you apart, gives your employees specific direction and pride in what they do, and draws customers like bees to honey. Identity is directly tied to your success.
Owner of Riley & You, Riley Appliance Marketing