Your Brand, Your Words

Why most company values are a farce and how to fix it.

March 23, 2020

Before you touch a new name, logo, or messaging, it is imperative to list out the values of your startup. I know what you're thinking, "values? We have those. Honesty, Courage, and Innovation."

Cool, but do you know what they mean? What they really mean? I think I know what they mean, but there are nuances about these virtues that unlock their importance.

Values are nothing without their definitions. Specifically, they are nothing without your definition of them.

Here's what I mean: I define honesty as telling the truth regardless of how it will make others feel or what it does to your image. Is that how you define honesty? Maybe, but you can't instill that into your startup and turn it into an actionable element unless you define it for yourself. Your definition will vary slightly and that's where the magic of your brand comes into play.

Give it a go, whatever your values are, define them in your own words.

More you say?

I hate titles

Why design titles are just like toothpaste.

2.14.2019

A LinkedIn connection of mine posted a document yesterday asking what titles his connections give themselves. The post contained 20 different variants of designer titles, here are a few:

  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Design Researcher
  • Creative Director
  • Design Lead
  • Senior Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer


Oi vey. That's only half. And he didn't even cover all of the options out there. You might be thinking, isn't the point to distinguish ourselves from people? Yes, it is, but it has to be done in a way that matters to the people that make the purchasing decision. Most business owners don't know the difference between UX and UI, hell most people who ascribe the title to themselves don't even know the difference.

It's like the pointless variants of toothpaste:

  • Anti-cavity (shouldn't all toothpaste be anti-cavity?)
  • Breath freshening (no shit, is the alternative a toothpaste that makes my breath smell bad?)
  • Fighting Gingivitis (isn't that the job of floss?)
  • Daily Repair (what else is it supposed to do?)

The only variant of toothpaste that makes sense to a user is when it speaks to a particular need of theirs. Like sensitive teeth being addressed by Sensodyne, who focused on people with this issue entirely.

Now let's apply the same thinking to some of these design titles:

  • Design Researcher (shouldn't all design be based on research?)
  • Digital Designer (if you use a computer and you're a designer, you are a digital designer)
  • UX Designer (99% of the world doesn't know what you do and the term user experience is applicable to everything)
  • UI Designer (isn't this the same as graphic design except digital?)

Here's the thing: these titles do nothing for the person on the other side of the table, you know that person who pays money for design services.

What's the solution you ask? Try this:
I'm a designer, I craft things with intention. I've got a portfolio of work and case studies to show the problems I solve. Do any of these sound like you? Cool, let's make something happen.

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Creche le Créneau

Ideas and frameworks for standing out in a crowded marketplace.

1.22.2020

Rebellion in its purest form is the willingness to go right when everyone else goes left. Meaning, it is an intentional effort to be different from everyone else. Developing a recognizable, bold brand is contingent upon this. What's not always clear though are the tactics used to intentionally differentiate your brand from your competitors.

First, research

Ugggghhhhh, research? C'mon man, I thought branding was supposed to be fun? Branding is fun and the best way to ensure it's fun is to do it right. You must know what is already out there within your market to see how you measure up. If you all look and sound exactly the same, this makes it insanely difficult for consumers to make a buying decision. The research doesn't have to be extensive either, especially if you can't afford the time. But you could at the very least do this:

Research your top 7 competitors via their website and social accounts. Ask yourself these three questions:

What do I feel when going through their marketing? List out all the adjectives you can (encouraged, empowered, bold, safe, clean, edgy, rustic, modern, etc.) or if you don't feel anything, write that down too.

Who do I think would buy this product/service? Be specific, write down the person's sex, age, economic status, occupation, etc. if a competitor seems like they are trying to appeal to everyone, write that down.

What is missing? These could be emotional qualities, different tiers in quality or price, or a missing offering that would be useful to the consumer.

Analyze

With all of this information, you can now assess where the weak points are in the market. For example, if all of your competitors gravitate toward a male audience, perhaps there is a chance to be female-centric. If they all charge a low price, there is an opportunity for a high price, high-quality offering. At the very least, if all of them act the same, there is an opportunity to be different at an emotional level.

Creche le créneau

French for "fill the void." Somewhere in your research is a gaping hole that no one has filled yet. Be it emotionally, quality of goods, accessibility, or catering to a specific user, if something is missing, there is an opportunity. If you can find a hole that fits the purpose and vision of your business, you've got the foundations of a rebellious brand.

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