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Branding and Logo Design

Branding and Logo Design

You have a new business and want to create a brand and logo for your business, but where do you start?

Companies spend a lot of time and not to mention money on branding. A previous business I was involved with spent $30k to have a branding agency research the market and create a few concepts. But you can easily spend more and so if you don’t have deep pockets you need to do the research yourself.

Although this can be time-consuming, it has another distinct benefit, in that this procedure forces you to really know your market, your competition, and potential gaps you should aim for.

When I break my budget down, I have allocated around 10% to branding and logo design work, most of which goes towards design work for the logo, label, and website. How much you spend on your branding will depend on your budget.

Brand, Branding and Brand Identity

Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition. It gives your customers your story and shows them who you are and what you stand for.

Getting your brand right will go a long way to determining success and creating a long-term viable business. Doing this right means you can develop a strong relationship with your customers and ultimately very importantly develop brand loyalty.

Branding Definition

Brand is more than just a great-looking logo, it’s about your whole message from the language you use, colors on your website, and what values your business has and what does it stands for.

During my branding exercise, I took the time to write down what my business will stand for you can see read it when I discussed the mission statement, core values and vision for the business.

PricewaterHouseCoopers have put together a very handy personal branding workbook that can be applied to pretty much any business.

The starting point for your brand identity is knowing the perception you wish to portray.

For my brand, I wished to convey transparency, trust, and an ethical approach – The core vision is to provide a quality supplement that delivers on the promise of great nutrition at the RIGHT DOSE.

My brand is a premium grade supplement and not a cheap product you would find in a non-descript aisle of Walmart. There may be nothing wrong with these supplements, it’s just they may not deliver on the quality or the carefully selected ingredients in that you see in my product.

There is a great article that outlines the difference between Brand, Branding and Brand Identity on 99Designs.

In short, Brand is the perception of the company, Branding is the marketing of your brand and the Brand Identity are all the brand elements that “portray the right image” to the customer.

Creating a Premium Supplement Brand

As I’ve said before, I am aiming at the premium supplement market. The closest competitors that I identified in my Super Greens research are Athletic Greens, Energy Greens and Organifi.

When you look at these brands, they immediately present an image of trust and authenticity to you, more so Athletic Greens and Energy Greens, than Organifi in my humble opinion. In fact, Energy Greens does an amazing job at this, with a back story for why the product was developed and how it changed the founders (Yuri Elkaim) and their customer’s lives.

There are some similarities with my story and Yuri Elkaims, and so I can relate to them on a personal level. Although I was never at the same athletic level he was, however, we were both very competitive athletes, heavily into the sport until illness struck that left us both struggling with our health for years.

Having a chance to be fully authentic and being able to tell part of my story for why I am creating my Super Greens supplement, in my opinion, will be great for the brand. I am hoping others will identify with the journey and this will hopefully resonate so much that they will feel connected to my brand.

I am also offering an outstanding money-back guarantee policy that doesn’t hide the returns policy or have unrealistic clauses to frustrate consumers

The transparency extends further in that I am adopting an open and honest “look at what’s inside” ie a “full disclosure labeling policy”. All the ingredients and their amounts will be listed for anyone to see. No proprietary pseudo-scientific sounding blends that hide the truth from consumers.

On top of this, I am also offering an outstanding money-back guarantee policy that doesn’t hide the returns policy or have unrealistic clauses to frustrate consumers. This is the aim and my aspirations for my supplement.

Brand Colors

You most likely know that colors can influence our decisions and therefore choosing the right branding colors really matters.

So how do colors affect our decisions?

Decisions are made from emotions and there is a strong link between colors and emotional state. For a more in-depth article on how color impacts emotions and behaviours, selecting the right palette is very important.

Color psychology for branding

Very briefly, warm colors (think red, orange, and yellow) trigger feelings of happiness and energy, cool colors (green, blue and purple) are calming and typically used for health and beauty brands, lastly neutral colors (black, gray, white, tan and brown) tend to be popular for backgrounds.

This is why many Super Greens brands tend to use green as one of the primary colors. Typically you find this extends to the use of green on the website and labeling too.

For my brand, I like the idea of using green but in a different way. Initially, I was considering a white background as most brands take this approach, but I wanted to stand out and so I am going to use a black background.

BulkPowders BrandingAfter careful consideration the reasoning was, incorporating white and green on a black background worked really well. In fact one brand that uses this very well is bulkpowders.co.uk and they use this for their premium supplement range (see one of their supplement pouches).

Black is often associated with feelings of luxury and sophistication as well as quality, think Hotel Chocolat, Valentino, Paul Smith, McQueen.

What you should remember is that the uses are generalized and that certain colors may evoke similar reactions in people, this isn’t universal and will depend on individual experiences and different cultures.

A very quick and simple example is Americans tend to associate green with money, because of the currency and the slang term the “greenback”.

Using your chosen brand colors in your logo, website and all your marketing will strengthen your brand association to those colors. So, just using my favorite colors which red and blue wouldn’t be a good idea for my business. It’s not about what I like it’s about what the consumer will like. Sadly many startups fall into that trap.

Selecting my Brand Colors

Super Greens Brand ColorsI decided that I should also use Green for my primary color, as often this is associated with nature, stability and health. Many Super Greens pick green for the obvious reason, but I have selected a very different green that is brighter than most.

The reason for this is because my secondary colors are going to be black and white.

99Designs have an excellent article that goes through a formula for building a brand color scheme.

They suggest picking a base color that is your most important brand personality trait. This is green for me as it represents nature and health etc.

Next choose what they refer to as an “accent” color, which is the most frequently used color after green in my case. This is going to be white as I have already decided on my “neutral” color that is going to be mostly my background color of black.

Choosing Typography

Typography refers to fonts of which there are major types; serif, Sans serif, script, and display. Choosing a font is more than just selecting based on how well you can read it!

Like brand colors, typography is a crucial part of the design and can trigger emotional responses.

In an excellent article by Kelly Lucente in the importance of typography (), she describes how fonts are often overlooked and can influence whether a visitors stay or is turned away.

Typography lets you create a certain atmosphere and have a personality. You can be modern, vintage, romantic, shy, or tough just by choosing the right typeface and arranging it correctly. Kelly Lucente

So, what fonts will I be using for my brand and logo?

Supplement Brand Fonts

I have been looking at a couple of fonts for the logo; Agency FB and Sentral.

Agency FB (Font Bureau) was the main font used in a few popular video games in 2011/2012, and subsequently used by Reebok and Nike for some apparel.

The font is strong, especially when used in capitals, and I think works well for the brand name. This may not work for the website though and so will look at suitable fonts when I start work on the site itself.

Sentral font (no typo) is more modern and has a friendly, energetic appearance, which will work well for a strap-line underneath the main brand.

Branding fonts

Choosing Domain Name

Namecheap Domain nameI have to admit I went on a bit of a domain name buying spree when I was first choosing domains. In the end I purchased around 15 domain names for anyone that buys domains often I buy all my domains with Namecheap, it’s a simple process and they are pretty cheap (It’s in the name).

It took a little while to decide which of the names would work best for my supplement brand.

Although it’s safe to say I did get a bit carried away as I came across lots of domains that initially sounded great, and a few that I was very surprised to see that they were still available. In hindsight many of these domain names were not suitable for this brand.

However, the domains won’t go unused, some of the domains I purchased will make excellent informational websites or even affiliate sites though.

There were three domains that I really liked that could have been suitable. Two were clearly benefit-driven domain names whereas one let itself to more of a brand.

In the end, I went with a domain name with the most branding potential. On consideration, I could see how the interaction with consumers would work well using this domain name.

How much of a factor domain name availability is when selecting a brand name?

In 2019 it’s not so to easily find a short, nice-sounding domain name that’s available as a .com and .co.uk. Although recently more domain name extensions have become available (.io, .me, etc), having a .com or country-specific domain is still for me the favored option.

Outsource design companiesAfter my branding colors were selected and domain name purchased, the next step was to get a logo that fitted in with my brand ie the logo conyeys the right message

There are some great design options available if you’re prepared to go an outsource route, but a word of caution, you need to have a fairly good idea of what you’re after. Otherwise, you’ll be faced with receiving designs that may look great but don’t really represent what your brand is all about.

If you think about it if you’re unable to convey your brand to yourself, then how can you expect a designer, who doesn’t know anything about your product to know?

It’s very easy these days to hire online a freelance designer from sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, DesignCrowd, 99Designs etc. I recently used a Fiverr gig to design the logo for the LifeHackerGuy, but it process didn’t work as well as I hoped and in the end I created it myself (I hope it doesn’t tell!).

So for me, the Fiverr platform didn’t work well, although I do know people that have had excellent experiences and you can get some great services, I mostly find they are cheaper and so get what you pay for.

In the past, I have had success with launching design competitions on both 99Designs and DesignCrowd and so decided to one of them for getting my logo designed.

In the end, I decided on 99Designs I then wrote a design brief for my logo. The design brief included my supplement target audience and branding identified in this article.

99Designs Logo Design Content

99Designs has different packages from Bronze all the way through to Platinum In the end I decided on the Platinum Package which costs around $899 (USD). I chose this option in part because I would have a better selection of mid to high-level designers and I was interested to see what the difference was between a mid to high-level designer was.

I ended up with around 50 designs for me to choose from.

Logo Design Package selected from 99Designs

Because I didn’t have a clear idea for the logo itself I wanted using this method gave me the opportunity to see lots of different concepts and then be able to select the superstar designer to work with.

In the past using 99Designs has been an effective way to get my design work completed, it’s pretty quick as well. By then end of the first day of the project going live I was already getting designs in. By the end of 7 days, I had over 140 designs from around 50 designers!

However, I have to admit I made two mistakes with this project.

The first mistake in hindsight was selecting the top price package in 99Designs, when really I should have selected the Gold package. This meant I overpaid for the logo design by $400 USD.

As I said chose Platinum for the mix of mid and top-level designers, but on analysis, I’m pretty sure only two were top-level designers and all the others were mid-level designers. The fact is a lot of the mid-level designers are more than good enough to produce top quality work. And actually, the designs I liked were from mid-level designers anyway.

So, the next time I use 99Designs I’ll stick with the Gold package, platinum just wasn’t necessary.

MISTAKE #2: Trademark infringement issue

The second issue which I must stress was nothing to do with 99Design but could have potentially been disastrous had I not recognized the potential problem the winning logo design could have caused a real problem with a very big established brand.

Not a fight I would want to pick.

When I say trouble, I am of course referring to trademark infringement. the winning logo had components that were too similar and there was a big possibility at some stage I may have been on the receiving end of a “cease and desist” letter from their lawyers.

They’re a billion dollar company, why pick a fight!

Winning Logo but Can’t Use It!

After realizing my mistake, I was not only left with no logo I was incredibly frustrated as I had paid for a logo competition and had no usable logo at the end – as I said this was a learning experience, I was caught up in how good the logo looked and didn’t do enough due diligence before working with and selecting the winning logo.

The upside of the competition was because I had so many logo designs submitted I had a wide choice for selecting another logo.

The upside of the competition was because I had so many logo designs submitted I had a wide choice for selecting another logo. I went with another logo that wouldn’t end me up in court and I messaged the designer via 99Designs so I could purchase the logo separately.

Luckily he agreed and we struck a deal on the logo that was significantly lower than the design project. I then created another design project within 99Designs and paid for the logo designs.

So, I finally had a logo I was pleased with, that wouldn’t cause me legal issues or an ulcer further down the road.

Summary

So, I have identified a brand name and identity, color scheme and now have a logo. Even with a couple of hitches, I ended up with a logo that I am very happy with (actually two logos, but only one I can realistically use).

In hindsight, I should have selected the cheaper Gold package from 99Designs I would have saved over $400 USD there. I’ll keep this in mind for next time, mid-level designers can produce some amazing designs, more than good enough for most design tasks.

I learned a good lesson during this stage of the project, always do your due diligence on the branding and logo concepts. Not doing this could have ended up as a very costly mistake further down the road. If in doubt over the suitability of the logo ere on the side of caution or get legal advice.

My next step is to get the label designed, get this signed off as well as to start developing the website using the branding and colors identified here.

Adam Author

About the LifeHacker Guy

Hi, I'm Adam the founder of the LifeHacker Guy.

I have a First Class Honours degree in Sports Science from Brighton University, specialising in exercise physiology and nutrition. In my youth I was a competitive Triathlete and long-distance runner placing top 10 in most triathlon races I completed.

Since suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I moved into web development, after a couple of years I then moved onto developing a number of online businesses. I've recently taken a sabbatical and I'm now looking to make big changes in my life, hopefully this may resonate with you - join me in my journey!

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