I get it. You want your logo, website, business cards, email templates, brochures etc to look awesome. But are you quietly telling yourself that you can’t make sales until your branding looks like Apples’?

I see it a lot. Cash starved start-ups tinkering with the ‘look and feel’ of their ‘brand’ instead of picking up the phone and pitching.

If you’re a start-up with limited resources, let me be blunt:

Your brand is what you’re known for and unless you’re Monet, your reputation shouldn’t be based on your interesting use of colour.

With the exception of those in the art/design industry, your prospects couldn’t care less what your collateral looks like.

What they do care about is whether or not you can make their lives better. Especially in start-up, having a fancy pants logo isn’t going to move that needle one bit.

A killer pitch on a napkin trumps a slick business card every time.

Don’t let anything get in the way of you getting in front of people and pitching. Pitching is oxygen for business and should be 80% of your day until you’re out of the woods.

If you think attractive collateral is an important component in that pitch, you’re wrong.

Collateral is essential, attractive is superfluous.

Black text on a white background will do just fine. In fact, it will likely do better than the $8 logo you got from 99designs.

When Dan and I started our first business together back in 2001, there was no logo. We had no custom fonts. Our letterhead was done in MS Word using clipart. We were 22 year old kids and we couldn’t have looked more amateur if we tried.

We used homemade brochures and photocopied credit card sign up forms and the reason we could generate over a million in our first year (and 10x in year 3) was because we had a great pitch. When our prospects read about our understanding of the problems they were facing and how well we were able to articulate how our solution would make their lives better, they were in.

In the most resource-starved start of our business, we sidestepped the need for a corporate identity by getting really clear on what people wanted – then we sold it to them. (and a pretty logo wasn’t on their list)

pretty vs profit

– pretty quote image courtesy of Claire Broad!

If you can relate in any way, here’s my challenge to you.

Stop reading the Internet and make three calls that could result in a sale or lucrative JV partnership.

Agree / Disagree? Tell me below.

Game on.