Be sure to read pillars one and two before diving into this article:
The problem with most companies, especially startups and small businesses is that they cast wide nets. They can't say certain things because it will offend people, and they have to appeal to everyone that walks through their doors regardless of how anomalous. It's in this fallacy of trying to please everyone that rebels gain the upper hand. Rebels are honest, so they know that even if they wanted to, they cannot help out everyone. It's physically impossible. Diving deeper, rebels have the confidence to stand firm and say, "I know that I cannot help everyone, but that's ok because I can help someone."
This gives rebels the opportunity to narrow their focus on a specific group of people with a specific problem. Everything else is a distraction to the mission at hand. You see, to rebels, it is better to have 100 true fans who cannot live without their services, than to have 10,000 fair weather fans that will leave them at the drop of a hat. Focusing on a specific group of people creates a virtuous cycle of respect and care for both the business and the people it seeks to serve. One that can only be achieved by having the courage to say, "this is not for everyone, but it is for someone who believes and needs this."
Rebels are honest.
Rebels are confident.
Rebels are focused.
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.
A brand is not a logo, it's not a product, it's not your reputation, it's not your name, so what is it?
A brand is the gut-feeling someone has toward your business. You make them feel a certain way through your company's behavior, it's appearance, and the experiences you provide.
All of this to say that making someone feel a certain way requires you, the business owner, to stop thinking about yourself and think about how you will impact someone else.
It doesn't matter what you like, what matters is what the person you are making this company for likes.
It doesn't matter if you don't like the name of your company, what matters is how it impacts your user.
It doesn't matter that you don't like your logo, what matters is how easy it is for your ideal customer to recognize it.
You get the picture.
The beauty of this, is that the pressure is taken off of you and your subjective standards, and instead focused on how much you can affect someone else.
It's not about you.