There is one constant in business: change, Changes in economic models, changes in market needs, changes in internal structure, changes in the medium, all of it shifts. With this in mind, how do you prepare your brand identity to deal with the changes to come?
Marty Neumeier described branding as changing shirts to suit the mood. For example, my go-to uniform is a black t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. But, I wouldn't wear that to workout or to a wedding. While working out, I'll wear black and grey athletic shorts and a black dri-fit. Wedding? Black blazer, white shirt, black slacks. Swimming? Birdwell trunks with a California Flag patch.
Here's the thing, while the actual elements vary, they appear uniform. The same feeling of simplicity and timelessness is what I am going for and it seeps into each circumstance.
So long as the brand is defined and your personality is detailed, you can adapt the physical appearance of your brand to suit the medium. Will it be different per circumstance? Yes. A video campaign is gonna be handled differently than a poster. Same thing with a website compared to business cards. But as long as they are aligned toward your brand, you are doing things right.
Remember, the brand is a gut-feeling. As long as you use your brand identity to reinforce that feeling, you are on the right track. It's like using multiple modes of transportation to get somewhere. So long as the experience feels the same and they are headed for the same destination, you are winning.
This is the third article in a small series of punches surrounding April Dunford's Obviously Awesome! and how good positioning relates to good branding. Please read the first article and second article before jumping into this one.
You know what the alternatives are, you know the special things that your startup unique, now you need to establish what makes that valuable.
It's tricky to get lost in the weeds here and even harder to stay objective.Typically, startups say things like "great user experience," or "great customer service," but that's trite and, quite frankly, to be expected. If you don't have those components, your business is gonna fail anyway.
Value goes deeper and it's objective. For example, building a repository of customer feedback and concrete examples of your secret sauce in action. Personally, this is seen in my business through my reviews and the consistent compliments I get on organization. Organization is the secret sauce (or one of them, I hope) and the value is that it saves time and keeps projects moving smoothly.
As this pertains to branding, it's a difficult to see what the emotional component is to quantitative value. However, it is clear that in gathering the quantitive data on your startup, you will see how you make people feel. If you're doing your job right, what you want people to feel and what they actually feel is aligned. That's a mark of good branding.
Yesterday, I wrote about how good logos do not make more money. The essential premise was that a good logo is not meant to earn people more money, but counters the cost of having a bad logo. Such as having to reprint collateral when a good logo finally emerges, losing equity in an image that changed, negative impressions, or having to repurpose/reconstruct the logo for various applications (social icons, favicons, app icons, small scale, etc.).
It got me thinking though, isn't all design about mitigating risk or cutting cost? Some would argue that design can earn more money, like going through a rebrand to appeal to a more affluent market, designing an ad meant to drive revenue, or building a streamlined website to increase conversion. But, I'm not convinced this means design's core function is to earn more money.
When you're rebranding to appear to a more affluent market, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of appearing cheap or scammy.
When designing an ad to increase revenue, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of being off brand or having a Peleton faux pas.
When you're building a streamlined website, what you're really doing is mitigating the risk of user confusion and discomfort.
Focusing on how you can make more money is great, but that doesn't seem to be design's core capacity. Design is meant to mitigate risk.
The risk of appearing unprofessional.
The risk of having a rigid, difficult identity system.
The risk of looking dysfunctional.
The risk of making a user's experience negative.
Whatever it may be, good design is about mitigating risk.