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Sprouter Talks…to Distility about the new branding

By: Erin Bury, Community Manager at Sprouter. Tues Feb 23rd, 2010

If you’re an entrepreneur at some point you had to sit around with a whiteboard trying to think of a name for your company. You probably sent ideas to your peers and family, and had graphic designer friends come up with concepts for logos and colour schemes. This sort of do-it-yourself branding is popular (and at most times very necessary) among startups since they don’t have the resources to outsource to a large agency. A new company is taking that DIY approach to branding and making it their business. Distility Branding helps entrepreneurs and small businesses build their brand identity and strategy through their 1day1brand workshops, and has also worked with big-name clients like AT&T. Distility Founder/CEO Axle Davids believes in the power of new branding technology, and talks to us about his company and his top 3 branding tips for startups.

Sprouter: Tell us about how you got the idea for Distility and how you started it.

Axle Davids: Our work in the field made me realize that big agency-style branding was suited to times when business moved slowly, budgets were big, and television was an exciting new medium. Equally, do-it-yourself branding was an unchartered grand adventure, like going for a drive in the country with no map and a quarter tank of gas.

Thus began our quest to invent a branding technology that could change the rules of the game with a workflow that would be fast, agile, and keep pace with today’s exhilarating speed of business.

To develop this breakthrough technology, we used funds we had saved in our war-chest by having served great clients like AutoShare, AT&T Mobility and Applied Biosystems.  Distility also benefited hugely from the expertise and support of family and friends. Entering the MaRS Incubator in September has given us another tremendous boost.

S: What were your biggest challenges starting Distility?

AD: Being strategic with limited time. Not just in terms of using our time well, but also maintaining balance so we can be a team that consistently delivers great results.

S: What are the top 3 tips you’d give to early-stage entrepreneurs?

AD: What do you think is worth more? The BlackBerry brand? Or BlackBerry related patents? The Coca-Cola brand? Or Coke’s secret formula? Ask a good IP Lawyer and they’ll tell you that for most successful innovators, their brands are their most valuable intellectual property. So with that in mind…

  1. Develop a brand strategy. Know your brand promise, positioning and personality before you do any design or brand marketing.
  2. Avoid over-naming. Build value in one corporate brand name. Instead of giving every product and service a unique brand name, just give it a descriptive name. For example our corporate name is “Distility” our products are called “Distility 1day1brand” and “Distility Namer”. This way, your audience is focused on just one brand name which is much stickier than asking them to remember many. It works for many of the Fortune 500, so you should be able to make it work for Sprouter community members.
  3. My designer friends will hate me for this one: avoid logos. People don’t realize that a wordmark is different than a logo. A wordmark is the actual word, made up of letters and sometimes designs that are integrated into or around the letters. Think Coca-Cola or Bell’s recent wordmark. A logo is a separate stand alone symbol that accompanies a wordmark. Think Pepsi’s hopeless ying-yang beachball revamps. Think of the AT&T Death Star-like symbol. The majority of the Fortune 100 use wordmarks because they are more efficient and easier to protect as trademarks.

S: What do you think can be a game-changer for an early-stage startup?

AD: Conviction.

S: What’s coming up at Distility?

AD: Right now we’re beta testing our new Distility 1day1brand technology here at MaRS, with MaRS clients. We’re calling the beta 10brands10days. After that we’ll be launching the new Distility 1day1brand in May. We’re looking forward to a great spring, summer and beyond.

You can reach Axle on Sprouter here.