Every company is an entity, not unlike a person. Every company has a unique story, just like every person. For some reason, you chose to go into business. Whether you want to open your own IT company or your own pizza shop, there’s more to it than “we do computers” or “our pizza tastes alright.”
Your company’s brand is your company’s identity. It’s how you tell everyone, in shorthand, what you do any why. It’s something I often see overlooked in our industry, so I wanted to touch on it and share my thoughts a little. At my MSP, I spent a decent chunk of time trying to build the company’s identity in an understandable way.
My company’s name was Kirbside. Why? Because come on, that’s an excellent play on my last name. We also had some fun with internal brands like “We Kirbstomp the Competition.” But I digress. The name of your company has some purpose, you created it for a reason. That’s the first story to tell.
The more important story is why your company exists, what problem is it trying to solve? In the 21st century, almost everything is a commodity. In most US markets, IT providers are a dime a dozen. Thanks to several marketing conglomerates, many of them look like copy pastes of the same company. One of the best ways to find success in an oversaturated market is to differentiate. Your company should look different than every other company on the block. That’s where a good brand comes in.
I’m no brand consultant. I wrote my own brand, but I couldn’t do it as a service for others. Instead of trying to tell you how to tell your story, I’m just going to share how I told mine. The purpose here is to hopefully give you an idea of how I created my company’s brand.
Step 1. Identity the Misson
Make Money ✅
I’m kidding. I mean of course the business of a for profit business is to make money, but that’s not the only “why.” You need to identify what your company’s mission is. The mission is the north star. A unified light you can use to guide your team, and your potential customers. If everyone who works for you comes to work understanding where the company is going, they will be more motivated to get there as a team.
Your mission statement should be something you can say in a few seconds during any conversation. For me, it was “empowering small and mid-sized businesses to work better together, safely and securely, when where and how they need to.” Pretty simple right? Every service we provided drove adoption of modern, cloud-native technologies and workstyles. I pursued a seat in the boardroom, not a bullet on a list of cost centers.
Once your mission statement is written down, the next step is to codify it. Every activity you do should drive your mission. Every sales call I ever made or technology we ever implemented meant bringing more customers, which meant empowering more businesses. It’s all easily traceable to my “why.”
Step 2. Build the Identity
The obvious, visible components of your brand include your logo, slogan, product names, etc. While I call this “Step 2” it’s really never ending. Everything you develop needs to fit within the brand’s identity. Every business card, piece of marketing material, the website, everything should fit within the brand. For that to happen, you need to define the brand guidelines.
This is where we need to get a little nitty gritty. What are your company colors, fonts, etc. Why did you pick those colors (check out color psychology? Establish how your brand should be represented, and use that as your guiding light as you develop content and fine tune how you talk about your business.
Think of this as an instruction manual for how your business is to be represented. For a neat example of this, check out Microsoft’s logo usage guidelines. Obviously, the Microsoft brand is massive. But that document is a pretty solid example of how you should establish boundaries and rules for how your marks and content are used.
Step 3. Share your Story
Once you’ve established your identity, put it into action. People connect more with a business when they can feel a connection to it. Get personal, share why you’re doing what you’re doing. Share why your company exists. Dive deep on the mission. Here’s some content to think about developing:
The origins of your company name
Write out your mission statement, and explain each component
On your personal media sites, explain why you decided to go into business
Explain how your mission differentiates you from everyone else’s mission
This becomes your brand’s cornerstone content. It’s content you’re going to use over and over again. It’s part of your proposals, on your websites, on your marketing collateral, etc.
Step 4. Let your Identity Guide your Products and Services
The brand of your company is the overall guiding light. But the service offerings and products your company produces need an identity too. When developing services, think of a brand that fits within your company’s brand, and drives home the value in a couple of words. At Kirbside, our managed solution was called “Stellar IT.” One of the definitions of stellar is “pertaining to a preeminent performer, athlete, etc.” I wanted our product’s brand to communicate that we’re amongst the best, the top of the market. We’re Stellar.
Think about things that fit within your mission, and drive home that you provide exceptional (or even stellar) value.
Step 5. Constantly Improve!
Your brand isn’t a one and done. My company had two different iterations of its logos, and I simplified the brand a lot in the end. As you grow and your vision matures, mature your brand alongside it.
I hope this helps you gain some inspiration in your own adventures of starting or growing a company. If you take one thing away from this article, it should be that identifying, documenting, codifying, and living by your corporate mission is a key ingredient to success.