Branding Should Not Be Painful

A few years ago I spoke to a troupe of Girl Scouts as part of a series on careers. In doing so, the first question I posed to the group of wide-eyed young women was, “What is a brand?” Several answers were offered up including, “It’s what they used to do to cows on the ranch.”

Well, I didn’t expect Brand to be our first word studied in this series but, serendipity hit me with a baseball bat on this one. In the process of writing our next book, “The Physics of Brand”, the slightly dusty adage of comparing “branding” to the western cowboy method of marking cattle was dusted off. And, upon a quick search, this site describing “How to Design a Brand” was discovered. It’s a great find.

The TSCRA dates back to 1877, when a group of Texas ranchers formed an association to deal with livestock theft. How better to establish ownership than to stamp your mark for all to see? In doing so, not only is ownership established but also reputation for each rancher in relation to quality and quantity of herd. I went deep into this site. The branding language is chock full of meaning. It is a language in and of itself including letters, numbers, lines and symbols. But after reviewing the complexity of the hieroglyphic-like language, I learned these early language designers established simplicity as “the Bull”.

Our first book, “Design Matters // Logos” discusses what makes great identity design. As our clients have experienced, the Capsule philosophy believes in simplicity as a primary criteria. So I chuckled a bit as I learned the early practice of branding recognized that not only are simple branding marks easier to read but also less painful for the cattle. Designers please don’t take offense to being compared to cattle but we certainly understand pain when trying to work with a poorly designed and cumbersome mark.

My thoughts here are pretty simple, no pun intended. Our world is complex. We chase life at a pace much too fast for anyone’s liking. So, as stewards of many of our world’s largest and most powerful brands gather for another FUSE conference, let’s think about the origin of Branding and the importance of simplicity.

Take a look at your brand. Does it cause you pain? I hope not. Does it tell your story? Does it inspire and make you proud? I hope so.

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