Friday, July 22, 2005
Speaking of brand… I noticed this Business Week report that Apple’s brand equity has risen 16%. What is interesting are the words they use to describe Apple: outpacing, breakthrough, iconic, innovation. I would add “cool” and “design conscious” to the list, but it pretty well sums up Apple’s brand.
I wanted to blog some of the marketing choices we have made to help build a brand of historic innovation, craftsmanship, and simplicity. First, is our name, “Bee Documents.” I wanted to find a name that was easy to say and was based on a real word. I like the "brand" that bees have going for them: busy, engineers, fond of flowers, and aggressive. It seemed like the potential was there to create a logo that would instantly make sense, like Apple’s logo which is very easy to remember.
Speaking of logos, I designed an ugly draft of the logo and then gave it to a designer who tweaked the spacing and made it look nice. It was a priority to have a logo that could be displayed in one color and would be readable at very small sizes. I’m very happy with it, though it may evolve slightly to reflect a more timeless look. It would be nice to have a logo that looks like it could have been used 50-100 years ago.
All our printed materials are on thick 100% cotton papers and use the Adobe Garamond typeface which is beautiful and historic. Every business letter, contract, and quote uses the same font, in the same size, with the same margins and spacing. We always use Adobe InDesign as a word processor as it does the right thing with OpenType fonts (Word and Pages do not). I’m thinking of printing my next round of letterhead, business cards, and blog cards with a letterpress (in black and white) to push the craftsmanship feeling even further. My wife and I sent out baby announcements a few months ago that were letterpressed from metal type onto thick cotton paper from the oldest paper factory in Italy and they turned out very nice. I’d love that kind of look for our marketing materials. The unfortunate thing is that the look is hard to translate into a web site. Maybe someday I’ll find an innovative graphic design artist that can build a web site look that better compliments the older print techniques. I like our web site now, but it would be better if it could more tightly integrate with our print branding.
The last thing I wanted to mention is personal branding. As a very small company, the people have as much or more brand value than the company itself. This is something that I realized a few months ago and started making more of an effort to brand myself. The blog is part of this, participating in user groups is part, and writing articles for other site/publishers is part. Think about Apple, or Microsoft, or Amazon. These companies have very public leaders who are an integral part of their companies brand (for better or for worse). I have come to accept that being a founder means developing a personal brand and reputation that contributed to the company brand.