Everyone always talks about the exciting products developed by startups. The newest technology, the most innovative solution - these are the things that make headlines. What is talked about less, but is of equal importance in the development of a new company, is that of brand identity.
A company can have the most amazing product, but products change over time as new technologies are developed and new consumer or business needs emerge. What can really keep a company’s business booming is strong brand recognition. The obvious example is Apple - with a recognizable logo and design, you can spot an Apple product anywhere. And, those products sell no matter what - not necessarily because of the products themselves, but because of the brand that the company has developed.
Not that we at Finout would dare to compare ourselves to a giant like Apple (yet!), nevertheless, we wanted to share a bit about our brand identity and discovery process in the hopes that it might help our potential customers get to know us better and also help other newly-forming startups going through similar processes.
Starting from Scratch
When Finout was established in 2021, all we had was a logo. We had no website and no brand book from which to even start to figure out what our website should look like.
We had to decide whether to spend the time going through an entire branding process or just get a website up and running to put ourselves out there while starting a branding process in the background. Like any busy startup, we, of course, went with the latter.
Our first step was to hire a freelance web designer to create our initial site outlining some of our key capabilities. Through this process and with the guidance of the designer, Gil Umanski, we started choosing the colors that we felt would best represent our brand. At the same time, we were conducting market research and diving deep into defining our target market. Knowing our target audience would be key to defining our brand identity.
The Research Phase
We quickly realized the importance of understanding our underlying values as a company that would ultimately need to be reflected through our brand identity. Without a clear understanding of those values, we would struggle to project the image that we wanted our target audience to see.
The most important part of the research phase was picking the brains of the founders of the company. Armed with a list of questions, we got them to think about the motivation behind establishing Finout, what they plan to achieve and how they plan to get there.
Slowly, the beginnings of Finout’s brand image began to emerge and we had the start of a roadmap for how to get to the final product.
The Experiment Phase
As any designer knows, there is a long process between an initial idea and a finished product and that process is usually along a long and winding path! This has been the case at Finout as well. With the information gathered from the founders, we went back to the web designer who completed the design of the temporary site and also created some illustrations aimed at expressing our brand personality.
As we were still early on in the process of defining our identity, the first drafts of the illustrations did not fully align with our emerging company’s personality. The illustrations did not accurately reflect the individuality and vision of the founders. Our next step was to look at other brands for inspiration and develop a vision board with more input from the founders. The end result was a decision that the final brand look should be somewhere between plain and simple and intricate and artistic. Not an easy task…We began with some in-house illustration sketches and an exploration of colors.
Finally feeling like we were moving in the right direction, we were able to make progress.
The Working Phase
Once we had a better sense of who we wanted to be as a company, we were ready to hire an illustrator to bring our ideas to life. Shira Noc (Instagram) was our savior, bringing her expertise to design and illustrate our brand identity.
Once we had some illustrations approved, we moved on to the creation of our brand book, to help flesh out the colors and brand attributes that we had worked so hard to develop. Soon we were ready to start composing a landing page and other marketing assets and start putting our brand out there in front of our target audiences.
Bringing it all Together
While the end-product that we are selling is a technology-based financial tool, we did not want our brand to focus only on the product itself. It is important to us for our customers to be able to connect with us as people - not just sellers of a product, as great as that product is! - and put their trust in us and our brand. This is why it was very important to us to offer a consistent and holistic user experience throughout the entire sales funnel. We want them to learn who we are in the awareness phase and be able to easily recognize the same trusted voice and brand identity across the whole journey.
It is very important that our brand voice remains consistent whether it is a social media ad, our website, our product materials and even calls with our customer support team. Developing a solid brand identity is a long process, but one that is worth doing well in order to gain customers’ trust and confidence in the company and its products.