One of my favorite stories about Apple (one that is actually applicable to building out a brand) is how Steve Jobs came up with the idea for Apple store layouts.
Think about a traditional computer store, or any store for that matter, what do you see? Boxes, boxes, and boxes. Boxes on shelves, boxes on the floor, boxes everywhere. In short, the place is packed with product and no matter how neatly arranged and organized, it treats products like cattle for slaughter.
True to his rebellious nature, this concept didn't sit well with Jobs so he sought out inspiration. But he didn't look at other stores, he looked at museums. Museums that house priceless works of art and marvels of nature like dinosaur fossils. These items are treated with so much respect and given ample space to let viewers bask in their presence. You feel awestruck staring at them.
Now think about an Apple store. There is one variant of every product they have placed on single metal stand for a shopper to interact with. There is minimal product storage happening in the consumer facing end of the store. Apple treats their products like the works of art seen in museums and it makes them special.
When applying this to brand identity, it opens up the door for magic. Where can you find a name that starts a story? Where can you find a symbol to represent your company? In whom can you find a personality to best characterize your brand? Where can you find patterns and imagery to reflect who you are? Lastly, how can you mix it all together to become something novel?
This applies to everything. From experience design, brand naming, visual identity, collateral, packaging, whatever. Seeking and stealing creates magic.
I was giving an identity presentation to a client today and everything was going phenomenal. He liked the strategy behind the mark, thought it had a lot of character, and he was overall pleased with it. He did ask if he could see a slight variation of the mark.
What he had asked for was not going to work (I could see it in my head and it would've ruined the integrity of the logo). But, in the spirit of transparency, I replied with "let's try it out, right now."
Within five minutes, we had the options side-by-side and could clearly see that the previous mark was the better option.
If I had said, "ok let me get back to you in a day with these revisions," we both would have been frustrated. It's an unfortunate trope within the design community to never show the client your workspace or your design files. Which I don't understand, because I certainly feel engaged and have more respect for other craftsmen who show me their process. More important, it helps me hold it in reverence and respect the decisions they make.
Design is no different. If we are willing to be transparent and walk clients through the entire process, show them how our opinions are formulated, and talk through the solution, everyone is happier.
Show your work and talk about it. Being creative is simply not enough, you have to be able to articulate your thinking.
It's common practice for business owners to take great pride in their craft and their industry. I know this all too well, as I love being a designer and creating things. But, it's not the most important part of my business. Far from it actually. If it was, I'd be out of a job as websites like Fiverr and Upwork can beat me on price, they will give more options, and they are accessible 24/7.
Thankfully, people buy on emotion. Buying is a method of joining a tribe, what you buy says something about who you are. Think about it. If I buy a Tesla, it says something different about me than if I bought a Ford Mustang. It's a car, they have the same function, but there is a different sense of meaning established by joining either of those tribes.
All this to say, when people buy from your company, what are they saying about themselves? A couple things:
They believe what you believe and they are cool being associated with you. More succinctly, they are buying YOU. Not what you do, not because you're cheap, not because you're stronger, faster, better, they are buying from you because they connect with YOU emotionally.
That is what matters the most. You. Everything about you. All of your quirks, your experiences, your dreams, your vision, all of those things that construct you are what they buy.
Who you are matters most. You do the world a disservice in trying to be something you're not.