Steal Your Brand's Soul

My favorite trick for creating brand personalities.

July 14, 2020

Creating brand personalities is hard. In fact, I rarely create one from scratch because of it.

Why? Because it's easier and more effective to look at authentic personalities that already exist, win people over, and copy them.

You can do this by thinking of movie characters, authors, influential thinkers, musicians, etc. Point is, your brand's soul is out there, you just have to find it and steal it.

More you say?

F Word 1: Fearless

Accepting failure is the first step in being rebellious.

9.21.2020

During my month off from writing, I wrestled with the concept of rebellion. There is a vision in my head of what a rebellious brand looks like, but it's hard to detail. Naturally, it seemed smart to try and breakdown the term into sizable chunks that could be combined into something more concrete. I landed on three "F-Words," starting with Fearless.

Understanding what it means to be fearless starts with defining fear. Cue Webster:

/ˈfir/ an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

In other words, fear is the looming awareness that things could go wrong. Unfortunately, our bodies can't help but be on the lookout for such threats because it is in our best interest to avoid pain. It's a primal function that enabled us to avoid meeting our doom at the jaws of sabretooth tigers and other adversaries hellbent on ending our existence. If that's the case, why is it so important for a rebellious brand to be fearless?

Cue Webster (again):

\ˈfir-ləs\ free from fear

In this instance, fear becomes a captor. A crushing slave merchant. Fear puts one in a cage and limits their potential.

Rebellion is anything but conventional or expected. It is a venture into the unknown and experimenting with what could be. A trip into chaos. To be fearless is to break free from the part of your lizard brain that tells you "this may be a bad idea, you might fail, you might get made fun of, people might reject you."

It is to liberate oneself from the chains of uncertainty. To understand that novelty, creativity, and change are found through a trial in the unknown. Most importantly, it is accepting that failure is necessary and to be expected in the search for greatness.

Rebels are not slaves to fear, they are free.

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Bad Names = Bad Identities

The one thing you need to clear up before you start working on a visual identity.

10.13.2020

The Nike swoosh, the Apple apple, the Target bullseye. All of these logos are recognizable in an instant and yes, it took a while for them to get there, but there is a common thread between them oft-overlooked in the success of their brand identities:

They have good names.

Since the name of a brand is further up in the headwaters than the logo, it makes sense that a crappy name will hinder the success of the visual identity. Don't believe me? Well, let's try these with different monikers.

Nike -> Elegant Running Solutions.
A swoosh would not fare well under this.

Apple -> Creative Computers, Inc.
Why the hell is the logo an apple?

Target -> Minneapolis Market (Target started in this city)
The bullseye loses all gusto.

You get the picture. Brand identities, just like people's identities include a lot from the name. Why do you think authors and screenwriters obsess over the names of these characters they create? It matters and there is an emotional value to the name of a company.

If you don't nail your name and have it aligned with the emotional value you want to manifest within your audience, your identity as a whole will suffer. How do you do that?

Define your brand.

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