I’m a design snob when it comes to the brands I choose to invest in. I’d like to say that when I’m mulling over a purchase I consider things like where the materials come from and whether it was locally made, but if I’m being honest, branding is always number one. When I look at a product, the company logo is always the first place my eyes go, then the packaging. If I’m intrigued, I’ll look at their website, and if that’s good, I’ll consider making a purchase. As a designer, branding is important to me and plays a huge part in every purchase I make and every company I decide to stand behind.
A few months ago I started working energy exchange at a yoga studio. I work one shift a week at the studio, (cleaning up, tidying things, no hard labour involved) and in exchange I get free unlimited yoga. I’ve always done yoga at home but it’s difficult for me to make it a regular part of my routine and actually commit to it when it’s just rolling out my mat on the floor of my bedroom. So, when I found out a studio so close to my apartment offers energy exchange, I jumped at the chance. I love the free yoga, but I also love being part of the community at the studio. I’ve been doing it for a few months now and am going to class at least three or four times a week. It’s been such an amazing addition to my normal routine and has made my work days much more enjoyable. However, with business picking up lately I don’t really have time to work the shift anymore, but now I’m hooked and in love with the studio, so I’ll be continuing with a membership in the new year after my exchange finishes.
All of that being said – when I arrived at the studio on day one, the first thing that caught my eye was their merchandise, specifically their B MATs. B MATs are a yoga mat made by B Yoga, and their simple, modern logo is what first caught my attention. The studio has lots of stuff for sale in their lounge area, but I was drawn to the clean, white lines stamped into the B Mat as soon as I walked in. I was intrigued, and when I got home I visited their website.
That’s when I discovered everything behind the branding of the B MAT and fell in love. First of all, their website is gorgeous. Landing on the page immediately makes me want to run back to the studio and take a class – which means their designer has done a good job. Big pictures and colourful products capture your eye as you scroll down the page and short messages pop up to tell you about their products and what their known for.
When you click through to read their story, you can see just how deeply they’ve considered their branding. It’s not just B Yoga. It’s Be Yoga. Their values are listed and carry their message and their brand throughout the site – be honest, be good, be open, be true, be focused. These are all mantras that are important when practicing yoga, but also core values in the creation of the B Yoga company.
They haven’t just carried the ‘be’ throughout the website, but through all of their products. They sell B MATs, B STRAPs, B TOWELS – everything they sell reminds you of their brand in a subtle way.
On top of their branding is the fact that their products are great quality. I got a change to try out a B MAT at the studio and the difference between it and any other mat I’ve tried is incredible. It’s thick and sticky, and makes it impossible to slide around during practice.
After browsing around and trying the mat I knew I had to get one for myself. I discovered that they were based in Markham, Ontario (not far from my home in Toronto) and loved the idea of supporting a local business even more. I ended up purchasing a B MAT, B STRAP, and B TOWEL, and am so happy with them.
I’ve been using them for a little while now and I love them. The stickiness of the mat is really above all else. Where I used to use a cheap studio mat and a towel and still slide around a bit during hot yoga, I now use just the mat and never even budge. The mat is also thicker than anything that I’ve used before. B MATs come in three different thicknesses – traveller, everyday, and strong depending on which works best for you. I got the middle size, the everyday at 4mm, and it is the perfect thickness to keep my knees comfortable during practice, but is still portable and easy to carry back and forth to class.
And of course as a designer, design matters to me. These products look good. Somehow walking into class with my blue mat slung in its leather strap, with my grey fringe towel (that looks almost like a scarf) I feel better. It calms me down and gets me ready for class before I even roll out my mat. Colour combinations and style and design has always been an important part of my life, and I love carrying that through to every part of my day. Even when I don’t look my best in sweaty yoga classes, my gear still looks great.
What can we learn from them?
The first branding lesson we can learn from B Yoga is about simplicity. Lots of people think that when choosing a company name and designing a logo, things need to be complex, but it’s actually the opposite. Simplicity is always best in design. B Yoga is the perfect example of this. They took a simple word be and combined it with what they do yoga. It’s as simple as that. Then they designed a logo that is as simple as it gets – strong lettering and a rectangle. The rectangle obviously symbolizes a mat, but also carries their brand throughout all their products.
Simplicity also means that it’s easier to remember a company. Even if you’re hearing of B Yoga for the first time, it’s unlikely that you’ll forget them because the name is so simple. It’s a combination of words we use on a regular basis, is short, and is memorable. Like I said, people often think that a company name needs to be descriptive and complicated, but simple is always best.
From B Yoga we can also learn a lot about how important planning is. It’s unlikely that they decided on the name B Yoga, designed the logo, and then got started forming their product line and brand without considering the names of their products or the messaging behind their company. They probably had the basis of carrying the be throughout their website and products before they ever even started on design. Taking time to think of these kinds of things ahead of time is always a good thing.
When you spend time thinking and planning before you start designing, it means that going back and making changes is much simpler. If you design your whole logo and website around a name and brand that you only half thought out, and then get a better idea once the design is finished, it’s a tonne of work to go back and change it. This is often why people feel the need to rebrand their blogs or businesses, even when they aren’t changing their direction. Yes, it’s exciting to think of a name and logo and it’s easy to dive right into the deep end. But, if you take the time to properly think and lay out your branding plan before you ever start designing, you won’t regret it.
Lastly, B Yoga shows us how important branding is. Product quality, branding, web design, company values, and more all play a big roll in the success of the brand. Now that I have a mat I know they are amazing and I love them because of their quality, but without the attractive branding I never would have thought about trying one out since I already had a cheap mat that was getting the job done. Every part of your business is important, and branding plays a huge roll in whether you’ll find success.