Diary of a Start-up: The Importance of Brand

Spend a couple of hours wandering amongst the throngs of people in Harrod's on a busy Saturday and the importance of brand is nothing short of rammed home. Like something akin to an ancient bazaar, where bustling traders used to vocalise their wares in an attempt to convince passers by to stop and consider their merchandise, Harrod's is the definition of conspicuous consumption - illustrating that brand is absolutely key.

Competing so fierce and closely with other rival brands, literally side by side, the only thing a consumer has to go by is the 'look and feel' of the brand image put across by the firms.

It occurred to me here just how disengaged and frivolous humans have become. Without shadow of a doubt, the NEED to multi-task - watching TV whilst surfing the web, typing an email with Facebook chat in the corner - has never been stronger. Theo Paphitis said that merchandisers have 10 seconds to capture the attention of the passing shopper. Online, this shrinks to less than 4 seconds.

A business may offer the best product with the best systems at the best prices - but if they don't impart that to potential customers within 3 seconds then it means nothing. So how do you capture someone's attention in such a short space of time? Branding theory is pervasive and based on a lot of that, I feel that in some respects, the following simple equation holds true for ONLINE branding:

Colour + logo = resonate

The key thing here is to note that any brand needs to RESONATE with its audience. In the fleeting few seconds that a business has, it's my presumption that colour palette and logo are the two most important features.

A true 'brand' of course goes deeper than just a logo. It is about trying to live and breathe the values and ethics behind the brands image. Stellaservice.com are market leaders in evaluating online customer service. On the phone recently to John Ernsberger, co-founder of Stella Service he had to say 'James, I'll call you back, I gotta take this call - good customer service and all!' That's what I call living the brand, but at the beginning of our journey the colour and logo we choose will help us either make or break this business.

Some fabulous examples of eye-catching branding include www.graze.com, a delivery food service that encourages healthy eating. The brand is simple, sophisticated (for a city audience) and clean. The colour palette ties perfectly with its strap line 'nature delivered'.

Eqaually, Virgin still uses the same red logo that it's used for the past 25 years. In the airline space, using red would have been seen as an invite to suggesting risk and danger but instead, Virgin have become synonymous with fun, innovation and sexy.

Foursquare.com uses a muted, calming pale blue with urban-esque fonts that embody the idea that this is a progressive, forward thinking firm that is still open to everyone. To youth of today, especially in the USA, the pale blue and distinct type font is immediately recognised as Foursquare.

We want to become the company synonymous with saving money to enjoy life more fully. The next few weeks will be critical in working on our brand promises and working with the design agencies to develop a world-class platform to grow this business on.

Wish us luck as we receive the first drafts back from the agencies this week!