5 Tips To Help You Create The Foundation For A Timeless Brand
When we think of timeless brands what comes to mind?
Coca-Cola is usually one of the first brands we picture. Followed by maybe Nike, Starbucks and a slew of banks, fast-food chains, major retailers, and even car companies among others. When it comes to the elements of these brands that have made them a lasting success, there are so many things we could discuss. But when it comes down to it, if you're a smaller business or brand, there are only a few elements you need to start with.
Simply put, creating the foundation for a timeless brand is a lot simpler than growing it. The Nike logo was nothing until it was utilized in dozens (and now thousands) of marketing campaigns and generations of physical products. Your small business probably hasn't created more than five marketing campaigns, and a handful of products.
So in order to get started on the long trek towards a truly timeless brand, here's what you need to do with your initial design and positioning:
1. Start with a name that's creative and memorable, yet vague.
When you're naming your business you want it to be creative and memorable so that people will remember your brand for years to come. Yet it needs to be vague enough that you can roll with the punches as your industry (and sometimes focus) changes. Avoid adjectives, and specific nouns in your name "Web Design" in a name might be a bit too pinpointed and hurt when it becomes time to add new services as time evolves. "Design" would be much better suited to a wide range of services and products. Think of the broadest terms people use in your industry, or choose an abstract name for your business so that you can change your products or services without wrecking your brand.
2. KISS - Keep it simple, stupid.
And this applies to everything. Logo, web design, mission statement, marketing messages. Simple design like a basic icon and clean lettermark stands a much better chance of lasting centuries, as does a straightforward brand voice. Every representation of your brand should be able to be described by the same 3-4 adjectives. Keep your voice and design styles consistent whether they are modern, obscure, funny, minimal, colorful, solemn, etc. Make your mission statement concise and like your name slightly vague so it will translate if your focus and products shift.
3. Don't try to be trendy.
Avoid trends at all costs. Trends are the antithesis of timeless branding. Skip this year's Pantone colors, logo trends, and slang words and you won't hit a roadblock when they all change next year. The only design piece that accommodates trends is web design, and even with web design you should avoid using too many trends or you'll risk paying for redesign too often.
4. Differentiate yourself.
Find the differentiation points that make you better than your competitors and build your brand around them. Having a key differentiator will make your brand stand on it's own without trendy design or brand voice. Your marketing messaging should all focus on the key parts of your business that are different- be them your cause, your process, or your products themselves. It only makes sense to keep repeating the differentiating factors of your business you want to become known for. The more you say them, the more people will know them. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.
5. Be consistent.
From day one, consistency is key, If you use the same design, voice, and messaging from day one your brand will stick. Trust the foundation you've built and don't go trying to replace or rearrange the pieces. Just keep adding on top of them. Stick to your simple logo, key differentiation factors, and focused voice and you will seem like you've been around for a lot longer than you have. If you act like you're a NIke or Coca-Cola, you'll become a Nike or Coca-Cola eventually, it's all about consistency and repetition.
The foundation of a good brand isn't that hard to form. Remember to keep it simple and build on your unique focus. Once you've done that, you'll be on your way to growing the brand of your dreams!