Recently during a Q&A call, I had a member inquire how to design a logo. It’s a question I get a lot when customers are creating their IT services marketing plan. He’d gotten quotes ranging from $500 to $5,000 — he wanted to know what needed to go into creating a successful logo and brand, and what it would cost.
Don’t Waste A Ton Of Money On A Logo
I’m not a big fan of spending a lot of time and money on a logo. I’m not saying you should put in zero effort, and I’m sure there are instances where a poorly chosen logo works against you. However, you make the logo what it is, not the other way around. Microsoft changed their logo not too long ago – can you identify their new one? Walmart is one of the biggest brands in the U.S. – can you draw their logo? Nike’s swoosh or Starbucks’ mermaid are only powerful visual brands because the companies have made them so. Otherwise, it’s just a smear or a chick with fish arms. No one buys their products because they like the logo.
I had a meeting years ago while working in an agency with the folks at Novell. Roughly eight people attended the meeting to discuss marketing for Novell 5 (remember that?). Half of the group was there solely to ensure the logo was used properly, displayed with the correct Pantone red color with X centimeters of white space surrounding it so it wouldn’t touch any other images or text. I could have told you then they were going to die as a company.
I’m not anti-branding. I’ve established a well-known brand in the IT services industry and own “marketing” as a category. It’s a key part of your IT services marketing plan. However, I don’t think it’s useful for a small business owner to invest precious time and money in activities that have the sole purpose to “generate awareness” or “build your brand.” All marketing activities should be held ruthlessly accountable to two goals — generating sales and bringing in new clients. Brand building is a side product of that activity, not the primary focus. With that said, here are a few useful strategies and principles on brand building for small businesses:
Your IT Services Marketing Plan Starts With Your Customer
Your brand is the summation of experiences customers have with your company. It’s not a single ad or a single product. It’s not your logo or a single promotion. Your brand is a combination of emotions, images and beliefs your audience has about you based on their collective experience, including your consistent marketing message. Every touch point and interaction someone has with you and your company (your brand) either consistently drives a unified message or it doesn’t.
Want to brand yourself as the best, competent, customer-service focused IT company in your market? Then you can’t have dirty company vehicles being driven by impolite, aggressive drivers who go over the speed limit, cut people off and look at their phones while driving. You can’t have a prospect or client call in and get your voicemail every time they try to reach you. You can’t have a website with broken links and forms that don’t work. You can’t hand a prospect a business card that has ketchup on it from lunch, and you can’t have sloppily dressed techs who have bad breath, greasy hair, beat-up shoes and are so stupid they could throw themselves on the ground and miss. You can have the best it services marketing plan in the world, but it will fall short if you don’t account for the little details.
Create your brand with a specific chosen target market in mind. One of my clients’ brands is a no frills, highly competent team. He’d have prospective clients tour their office, which had no decorations on the walls, and his techs jammed in shoulder to shoulder. Instead of apologizing, he would point out that they (the client) were paying for quality support, not a big, fancy show office and techs in Armani suits. Clients bought it, and today he’s close to $7 million in sales and growing.
Part of my brand is being a tough, no-nonsense, fiery (nice way of saying short-tempered) redhead. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and spend time with Kevin O’Leary. The “Mr. Wonderful” you see on TV is, to a great extent, a manufactured brand. He’s the heartless, uncaring, tough, tell-it-like-it-is guy. In person, he still has many of those traits but is by far one of the most easygoing, giving and delightful people I’ve worked with. I assure you he has built that brand very intentionally to appeal to a very specific crowd and to his advantage when in negotiations.
Don’t Confuse Your Brand And Logo
Don’t confuse your brand with the nuances of your logo and tagline. Color schemes, fonts, images and taglines support your brand — they are not the brand itself. It’s about ideas. A good book to read is Made To Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. Dan was the opening speaker at Boot Camp a few years back and talked about how the most successful brands convey simple ideas and a singular focus to gain traction in the marketplace.
And finally, don’t confuse your “brand” with your unique selling proposition (USP). A brand can certainly support a USP, but you still need to be able to convey to a prospect, in clear, simple terms, why they should do business with you over the competition.
Marketing Toolkit For MSPs
Need more marketing help for your small or mid-sized IT services firm? I’ve built a step-by-step marketing system that can help you build your IT services marketing plan. Campaigns, marketing tools, scripts and marketing strategies tested by hundreds of MSPs that you can use to create your own unique marketing message. I’ll show you how. Plus, we guarantee you’ll attract more high quality leads and get a handle on your marketing.