I’ve been asked this a few times from a number of people, all coming to it from a different angle, and it’s an interesting question. I’d recommend taking the time to think about your business goals and why you feel you need a logo or a brand.
First of all, it’s worth mentioning your brand is more than a logo. It’s the essence of your business, and, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously said: “It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
A logo allows you to distinguish yourself and give your business an ident, a mark, to identify your business when you’re talking about and promoting yourself. It allows your customers to get a sense of what you do and what your company stands for.
Is a Logo Necessary?
People often ask: “Do I need a logo in order to sell to customers?” and “Can I still make money without one?” The answer to the first question is, “No, you don’t” and the second, “Yes, you can.”
I’ve known people in different industries who have created very successful businesses without a logo, or at least not having one professionally designed. However, the common thread that led to their success was that each of them knew what they stood for and clearly communicated that in all their messaging.
They were able to create a consistent brand across all touchpoints, whether that was in person, via email or blogs, or through images they shared on social media. Their brand values were at the heart of their business and they stood by them.
Each business was also consistent with the touchpoints they used with their audience. A touchpoint refers to any time your audience come into contact with your brand, whether that’s on your website, a social media post or an advert.
By having the same brand messages each time, and providing lots of different touchpoints, they were able to stay top of mind with the customer. It also means that your audience has a consistent experience every time they come into contact with your business, and more importantly, it allows you to control how they perceive you.
For an IT business, this is key, because customers are more focused on the outcomes they need than who you are – you want to make sure they choose you rather than a competitor! By being instantly recognisable and with a memorable brand, you increase your chances of winning the work.
The Benefits of Having a Logo
So should you have a logo and a visual brand created for your IT business? As we’ve said, you don’t NEED one, but it definitely helps! A logo allows you to build on your values, communicate them more effectively to your audience and attract new customers.
They also help you be more memorable, which is vital in a crowded marketplace, and they make it easier for people to share your messages and recommend you to others.
Having a logo design and a visual identity helps you present a fuller picture of your business to potential customers. It makes you look professional and shows people that you’ve spent time thinking about your visual messaging and what you want to convey about your business.
You’ll feel proud to have a good logo to represent you, making you more confident and comfortable speaking to customers and vendors. It also has the added benefit of making you look more trustworthy.
With easy access to the internet, particularly review sites and being able to ask friends for recommendations, today’s customers will review their options repeatedly until they’re ready to buy.
If your company has visual branding that aligns with what you stand for and consistent branding across all other areas, you will be more memorable than your competitors who haven’t got a clear brand message, and customers are more likely to choose you.
What is Branding?
Branding is about knowing what you stand for and how you communicate these to everyone within and outside of your business. The quickest way to share these, is with your brand values (no more than five).
Your brand values should feed through everything you do, and you can do this easily via your customer touchpoints, as mentioned above. These are what gives you a USP (unique selling point) and what makes your IT business different to all the others.
This means you’ll stand out from the competition, and it gives customers a better understanding of what you do and why they should work with you. And if you do it right, it will also build brand recognition, which increases your visibility and helps you find more of your ideal clients.
Think about the visuals and the logo as icing on the cake. The cake is the brand, the base and the essence of your business. The icing is the visuals and additional magic that attracts customers to you. The two together work like magic but it is possible to have a brand and a business without the icing – it might just take longer to be picked off the shelf!
Why Wouldn’t You Have Branding?
Most start-up business owners today know they need branding, for all the reasons we’ve looked at. But maybe you’re not convinced, and you don’t think having a clear brand would make any difference to you. Here are some reasons why people won’t consider branding.
- Don’t Know Where to Start: This is true of all aspects of marketing, and also most of the tasks required to run a successful business. You’re good at what you do, whether that’s break/fix, managed services or cyber security, which is why your customers come to you.
What you’re not good at, though, is promoting yourself. Branding isn’t something to be frightened of; consider it one part of marketing that, if you get it right, won’t need revisting again (or at least not for several years!)
You’ve probably already come up with a mission statement and some company values, so use these as your starting point. Speak to some of your best clients to ask them what pops into their head when they think of you. Choose trusted employees from all levels of the business (not just the exec board) and do the same exercise with them.
- An Assumption That There’s a Cost Involved: If you have to start a branding exercise, this is going to take time and probably money, and you can’t afford or don’t want to pay it.
Firstly, you don’t need to pay an agency a large sum of money to create your brand for you, although you certainly can if you want. You can work with a graphic designer or a solo marketer to help you make your messages clearer, and if you do your research beforehand, you can be sure you’ll get what you want rather than a string of buzzwords.
Whether you choose an agency, a freelancer or your in-house marketing team, think of this as an investment in the future of your business. Clear branding makes all of your other communications easier for your audience to understand.
- Just Don’t Need One: Maybe you’re a well-established IT company, perhaps the only one in your area. You might have loyal customers who’ve been with you for years, or you operate in such a small niche that you’re never short of enquiries.
While all of that makes your business successful now, what about in five or ten years time? What if all of your current clients retire or sell up? What if a bigger company with a better marketing budget moves into your patch and offers your customers the same service at a lower price and improved support?
Unless you don’t plan to grow your business at all and you’re happy to let it wind down as your customers move on, you’re going to need to find new work at some point, sooner or later. If you’ve spent all your time focusing on your current clients and given no thought to nourishing new leads, you’re going to be behind the competition when business gets quiet.
Another way to look at it is, good branding will make the biggest difference to your customer relationships. You can have a great marketing strategy to attract visitors to your website, generate enquiries and convert people into sales, but there needs to be more to it. Branding is that something else – customers get to know your business and your values. They’ll be loyal and they’ll recommend you to others without you having to do any more marketing.
So, Do you Need a Logo?
It’s fair to say that no, you don’t need a logo to have a successful IT business, but you do need to think about the messages you want to convey to your customers. The quickest and clearest way to do that is through branding, and a logo is a part of this.
When you’re ready to start exploring the options for your company, whether it’s just a logo or a full brand, you might feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. If that happens, you need to chat to a branding design expert.
Ask trusted colleagues for recommendations, and make sure you spend time explaining what it is you want. After all, they need to be able to sum up your business with the right imagery and create something you’re proud to show the world.