Philosophy and Process
These two fundamentals work together to build and sustain successful businesses. Means is the process of business: the how and the what—manufacturing, distribution, sales, products and services. Meaning is the process of branding: the why. It’s the mechanism by which customers experience, categorize, and remember brands.
A company that puts means above meaning has to compete on price, but a company that puts meaning above or alongside means gets to compete on its own terms. While a struggling company may be failing to produce things people want (means), it may more importantly be failing to produce the desire (meaning) for them.
APPROACH: The goal is to define a unique category and position within that category; something your company or product (when I say “product” I’m also including services) can own and be associated with exclusively. And that something works best when it’s a “why”—the reason you do/make/sell/love what you do.
There is a difference: branding is the process; brands are the result. “Branding isn’t aftershave” because today’s brand-savvy consumers expect authenticity, necessitating that branding be embedded into the DNA of your company so that everything about it remains consistent with the brand promises, and the expectations of your customers.
The higher up within your organization that your brand is nurtured and guarded, the deeper and wider it’ll be disseminated throughout the company. Today, brand management as well as branding itself need to be directly driven not by the marketing team, but by the entrepreneurs, the owners, and the C-suite.
APPROACH: Working directly with business owners, entrepreneurs, and top executives is the only way to instill the importance of branding and how it will affect their business and is an essential theme throughout the branding process.
A logo is a face. It acts as a trigger for emotions and memories connected to your brand’s character, whereas identity (or “brand identity”) is the overall look of the key visual elements that distinguish your brand from the others, such as color, fonts, and design embellishments, as well as the logo itself.
The key mechanism behind a logo’s effectiveness is the rebus, a pictorial device used to represent a word or idea. Even logos comprised of only letters can still represent further meaning. For example, thin serif fonts set in black can represent luxury. But a unique symbol representing the core values of a company or product can be the most impactful.
APPROACH: The unique, memorable visual triggers I’m looking for in a logo almost design themselves the more I know about the company or product. The initial goal during the creative process is to discover a singular image that imparts as much meaning as possible into the simplest form, and not to waste energy providing as many options as possible as is typical with agencies.
Branding and Identity are allies and are weakened without the other. Branding without skillful identity design will appear unfinished and cheap, while identity without thoughtful branding will feel superficial and uncertain.
The goal of branding is to find and present your company or product’s story, anything from core values to key benefits, while identity acts as a conduit for maintaining the connection your consumers have to the story. The more emotive and simple the story and identity are, the quicker and more strongly they’re associated, remembered, and recalled.
APPROACH: The story we’re looking for can be as succinct as the inspiration for your company or product (the “why”), or as elaborate as how they’ll change our perceptions. A story is essentially a means of positioning your company or product so that people can relate to it on a deeper and more direct way. Typically, a company or product’s story will come out of the discover process for the logo, potentially connecting the two for years to come.