This is true in over 95% of cases.
I find it especially interesting (mostly because I almost fell deep into this hole myself starting Denote Communications) that new businesses are often fixated on what are actual trivial things such as logos, business cards, names, etc. instead of what actually matters, sales. If you are running your business, you should not be focused on your logo, business cards, or web site. You should absolutely be focused on how you are going to earn a living doing what you do. I’m not going to give away the scintillating secret creation of Denote’s branding, but I can tell you that the first business cards and took about 15 minutes in Adobe Illustrator (would’ve been faster if I had more than 5 hours of previous AI experience), the first web site took 5 minutes, and the name, Denote Communications, came during a vicious session of wings and beer at the Pogue. We’ll go into more detail on our company blog (coming soon with our new site launch!) but I still look back on that night and shake my head at what I can remember of it. Basically, after 20 minutes of work and a couple hours of beer, wings, and a fun night out, we had a ‘company’.
Why are these things so trivial? Because for most businesses, they don’t create sales. Sales are what a company needs to survive. If you spend your days running your company by figuring out what exact degree angle the underline on your logo needs to be, or whether you should go with a 1 sided or 2 sided business card, or which social media buttons you should display on your site, you are not out making sales. If you are not making your sales, your business isn’t earning money. If your business is not earning money, then you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.
The best clients we have ever dealt with recognize this and, while demanding a high standard of work from us (something in which we are overjoyed to oblige), are focused more on interacting with their customers and using the wonderful skill set they were blessed with to turn their products or services into cash. Successful businesses realize that their logo does not make people buy their product and they have plenty of time to play luxuries like ‘brand exposure’ and ‘social media presence’. A restaurant shouldn’t be deciding whether they want red lettering on a black background or black lettering on a red background. A restaurant should be figuring out how they are getting butts in the seat. A clothing store shouldn’t be deciding whether they are a shop, boutique, or beyond, they should be figuring out how to move stock. A consulting company shouldn’t be figuring out which ugly mess of compound words they should call themselves (I think you get bonus points for including ‘nova’ in NS), they should be finding people to get to pay them for advice. Your logo doesn’t matter, your business card doesn’t matter, your name doesn’t really matter. If you feel the need to, make improvements or rebrand as you’re able to. Regardless of what name or logo you decide on, they will all make sense and be accepted once you achieve business success through sales.
Who thought practical and simplistic names like eBay and Craig’s List would ever gain credibility. When you think about it, Microsoft or International Business Machines are pretty stupid and boring names when taken out of the context that they’re billion dollar corporations with decades of history. What about Coca Cola? Here’s an interesting quote taken from a site dedicated to the logo’s history:
When John S. Pemberton created the formula for his new drink in 1886, his partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name Coca‑Cola, thinking that ‘the two Cs would look well in advertising’. He wanted to create a unique logo to go with it, and experimented writing the company’s name in elaborate Spencerian script, a form of penmanship characteristic of the time.
How amazingly boring is that? The name was suggested by a bookkeeper (a bookkeeper, how wonderfully unsexy!) because it was alliterative and the two Cs would “look good in advertising.” The logo was designed by trying out different forms of script. Imagine if Pemberton had access to a font book!
I believe the reason that people starting a new business focus on these things for two main reasons. The first is that compared to everything else in starting a business, this is the easiest and most fun to do. It is a nice vacation from figuring out how you are going to earn a living and avoiding all the hard work you need to do tomorrow. The other is a genuine misplaced belief that all of this stuff actually matters and “the clothes make the man”. Nobody said running one’s business was easy and nothing beats hard work. What are ways to get over these pitfalls? Well that’s another post altogether…
If you disagree, agree, or have your own anecdotes or questions, please comment below.