A month ago, I went through a branding exercise on 99designs to develop a logo (I won’t write too much about this experience, but happy to chat with anyone interested!). During this week long process, I actually learned that branding reaches far beyond a logo. It’s also about your mission statement, your values, the boilerplate way you describe your company and so much more. This may seem obvious to those who have done this, and it may seem like fluff to others. Prior to this experience, I was closer to the latter end of this spectrum. Now, I’d love to put forward my argument for the former, and in particular about how branding relates to me as an engineer.
Branding is Programming
When you write a program, you’re writing instructions for the computer to execute the same way every time the program is run (well… if you have programming experience you may disagree with this :P). Branding is exactly that. Branding is building a machine that executes the same way, every single time. It is a set of rules that dictate how your company should be represented in different scenarios. If you need a small image to represent you, use your logo. When you need a sentence to represent your brand, use your tagline. Once you’ve determined your set of rules, it can repeat itself indefinitely.
Branding is Precision
If you’ve spent much time speaking with an engineer, you probably have the experience of being corrected over a triviality. Well, in branding, every word matters. Picking the correct word may allow you to build that connection with a user. Even seemingly similar words like “teamwork” vs. “community” will appeal to vastly different groups of people. Branding forces you to find precise language and visual resources to define your company.
If you ask anyone in Marketing, they’d probably recommend that you build a Comms Doc from the very beginning of your journey. This doc is the shared branding document that centralizes the branding decisions your company has made. This usually grows as your company makes more and more decisions. To start off with, it’s recommended to have a tagline (no more than 10 words), a one sentence description, as well as a boilerplate description (no more than 3 to 4 sentences) along with any images (like logos). With no more than 3 to 4 sentences to boil down the work you are building over years of your life, you’ve got to make those words count!
Branding is Teamwork
Engineering, or any product development role, is all about being a team. At large companies, hundreds or maybe even thousands of engineers can contribute simultaneously to a single product / codebase. To be able to cooperate on such a large scale, they must create common philosophies and define best practices for coding. Branding is like creating that guidebook for the whole company. This is important. Oftentimes, branding is considered an exercise mostly for outward communication. That would be wasting one of the greatest benefits of branding – building a cohesive team. One of Buildschool’s core philosophies is “Education should be accessible to everyone”, and this is a guidepost for everyone working at Buildschool to make decisions by. Those who cannot stand by the branding of a company will likely never be a productive member of the team.
Branding is Efficient
Engineers love efficiency. We geek out over keyboard shortcuts that might shave half a second off a workflow. Branding reduces time spent whenever you do practically anything related to your brand. If you’ve spent minutes (or maybe even hours!) struggling over how to describe your company in an email, you are losing out on the time benefits of branding. Define it one time, and allow the cost of it to be amortized over the countless places you will need it.
Not only do you save your own time, you’re most likely saving your customer’s time. A famous quote by French philosopher Blaise Pascal says “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” By cutting down a rambling message down to a few sentences, you deliver an accurate and precise punch. This is especially important in today’s age of ever decreasing attention spans. You may have merely a few seconds to capture a potential user’s interest before they’ve moved on to the next hamster eating a burrito video.
I’ve grateful for making the decision to start branding so early on. As we grow, we hope our brand speaks to you as one that invokes trust, inspiration, and progress.
Here’s the short intro we came up with for Buildschool. We hope you like it!
Buildschool is a coding education school that is on a mission to deliver free coding education courses to all students with the drive to learn. We are sponsored by building and delivering real, paid, contract jobs. Because our students all work on real-world projects, they graduate with the experience and practical knowledge to hit the ground running faster than from traditional educational tracks. Take charge of the future and join us today!