During 2018 to 2019, there were 672,890 company incorporations in the UK.

That’s a hell of a lot of new brand identities pouring into a market that already feels saturated.

When your a new small business trying to develop a brand identity, it can seem as if there’s only a limited number of aesthetically-pleasing colour combinations and font choices to choose from. You want your logo to stand out from your competitors, but there are only so many ways you can say ‘reliable’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘established’ without resorting to the same old symbolism.

If you’re in the process of setting up a new business, how do you go about finding a brilliant brand identity? And is it even possible to stand out in a crowded market any more?

A neon sign that reads 'Same Shit Different Day'

Truth bomb: your brand doesn’t actually need to stand out.

In the beginning, many startups try to break the mould with a stand-out brand identity. Then, as they mature and become established, many companies will try to adopt a more minimalist look.

When big brands such as Airbnb, Spotify and Pinterest are all jumping on the bandwagon and moving towards simplified, sans-serif logos, it reinforces the idea that doing something different isn’t always in the customer’s best interest.

Why is this a good thing? Many consumers like and even demand familiarity – it’s known as the ‘familiarity principle’. In short, the familiarity principle is the tendency among human beings to develop a preference for things (products, ideas) that they see most often. When there are so many competing brands and messages out there, familiarity helps to remove some of the mental processing and decision-making, and smooth the path to a sale.

Think about how many visuals we are all bombarded with on a daily basis; from the apps on your smartphone to street billboards and online banner ads. Making a statement by having a bold, simple and clean brand identity can actually help to grab attention and reinforce the message that you too are straightforward, dependable and clear-cut.

Don’t try to be different just for the sake of it.

Sometimes visual repetition is good. Unless your company is doing something really different, you don’t need to make a huge splash with a quirky brand identity. A quirky brand identity can actually distract from what you’re selling and get attention for the wrong reasons.

Instead, focus on staying true to your brand. If you’ve already got a good reputation and you do what you do well, you don’t need fancy colours and graphics – just an identity that suggests trust and experience. Leave it to your fantastic products, customer service and sales & marketing activity to tell the world about your company personality and why you’re great to work with.

You’re more than just a logo.

Let’s face it, your logo is never going to do enough to stand out. What defines you is your product or service and how you market that to the world, such as through a brilliant social media presence or outstanding word of mouth recommendations.

A neon sign on a floral wall that reads 'Be Brilliant'

Fall in love with your brand.

Make sure your brand identity represents your business top-to-bottom: from the services or products you provide, to your company values and culture. A good graphic designer will help you to translate this into the right typeface, colour scheme and brand elements for your business.

Then, embed it within everything you do – not just your customer touchpoints, but your internal systems and office environment too. It needs to run through your business like the writing on a stick of Brighton Rock.

This not only helps to build customer retention and loyalty, but it can encourage employee loyalty too. When your team members feel part of something big and exciting, they feel proud of and inspired by the company they work for.

It’s also important to get your team involved in the process of choosing not only your brand identity, but your company values too. Make sure to communicate clearly what you are trying to achieve and why it’s important, then ask their opinion and listen to their feedback to make them feel involved.

Lastly, don’t let it get stale – when your business evolves, make sure your brand identity does too.

Finding a great graphic designer is the first step in the process, someone who will listen and understand what you want to achieve and guide you through the process.

5 tips for a stand-out brand.

1. Be authentic. Know who you are as a business and who you’re selling to, and keep that at the heart of everything you do.

2. Be consistent. Create a set of brand guidelines so that all areas of your business, from your physical signage to your website, have a consistent look and feel for greater recognition.

3. Be open and honest with your customers and stakeholders to establish trust and build a strong reputation.

4. Make your customers your greatest sales asset through reviews, referrals and repeat business.

5. Do what you do really well.