When it comes to successful branding, the first word that comes into my mind is no other than this: conscious. There are literally millions of ways you can choose, design or have a logo designed, what colors you use, what kind of presentation, mood and style you want to create for your business. Still, even achieving a high level quality in any of these is not equivalent to successful branding.
Branding is, in a way, similar to writing a song. We all know that a good drummer, or drum programmer, a great pianist, talented violinists and hard-core guitarists are great factors that can make miracles. But a songwriter / music producers knows, that in a way, all of them are tools in creating a hit (now, let’s ignore the fact that a pianist can also be a music producer / songwriter). Also, it is a music industry “secret”, that some of the best music producers can’t even play an instrument. It may surprise some, but it’s a fact. He is simply not needed to. A music producer is similar to a conductor.
If you’ve seen the great movie about Steve Jobs, you may remember the scene when Steve Wozniak (played by Seth Rogen), who was the co-founder of Apple gets mad at Jobs, because Jobs always wants people to follow his ideas.
You can’t write code. You’re not an engineer. You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail. I built the circuit board. The graphical interface was stolen from Xerox PARC. Jef Raskin was the leader of the Mac team before you threw him off his own project. Everything… Someone else designed the box. So how come 10 times in a day, I read “Steve Jobs is a genius”? What do you do?
You know what Jobs answered? “I play the orchestra, and you are a good musician.”
Wozniak did not understand, even when they became utterly successful, that he (sorry Mr. Wozniak) and his work would have never met this level of success without Jobs’ vision and almost psychic skills in seeing the future. Steve Jobs got fired from his own company, because the board of directors thought that Jobs wants to create products that’ll be “financially dangerous”. Only to realize years later that Apple is not Apple without Jobs, and that’s when they called him back.
Branding, good branding is similar to what Jobs did. I have seen literally hundreds of designers online in my career since 2009, who are hands down, great graphic designers. A lot of them had and has graphical skills that are above mines. But doesn’t matter how beautiful the things they create are, I would never let them work for my company. Because they can not see beyond art, and create something that’ll actually has the effect that it is goal: inspire interest and sell the product or service.
For example, they simply can not understand that the best, or the good logo is not the one that took hours or days to create (remember my analogy with music? a lot of hit songs, actually most of them, were created in minutes or hours), but the one that actually fits, works and is inspiring. I guess, they are so proud of their, anyway, existing graphical skills that they simply want to use it and want to use the best of it. But, if you are a chef, and they order a hot sandwich, they won’t necessarily be happy with a Beef Wellington instead. So giving them it because you are proud of your cooking skills may even get you fired.
Proper branding starts with understanding the basic traits of a business: size, goals, field, and it’s uniqueness. Uniqueness is a tricky one. Uniqueness in branding can basically come in two forms: inherited and created. A good brand designer will look at the pre-existing things of your business that separates it from the competition. Are you a restaurant who has a farm in the backyard? Then make it a farm-to-table restaurant, emphasize it, make it part of the brand, toss this fact into people’s face so they know you are different. Are you a barber whose grandfather was one too? Then have “Barbering in Nashville since 1940” as your slogan. Are you in Ohio, want to make ice-cream and you are from Italy? Why not call your products “Italian Flavors”?
You see? Sometimes inherited and created, what I mentioned before, can blur into each other and overlap. It is always about getting some unique facts about a business, and emphasizing them. Both in branding and how the business will operate. No uniqueness to it? I’m not sure if there is one business in the world who does not have at least some unique trait to it, but if there is not, why not create one?
A good example for created uniqueness is MailChimp. Seriously, what the burning hell does a chimp has to do with sending emails? Nothing, right? No. Who said? By simply getting the chimp idea from thin air and connecting it to sending newsletters, MailChimp did exactly what I mean when I say “created uniqueness”. Then, this branding, the logo, gets the attention of people, THEN they can see that how unique and great the service MailChimp really is. But at first, they had to get your attention.
Have questions or have something to say about the subject? Feel free to comment!