I’ve gotta come clean. I’ve felt conflicted about branding for some time. So conflicted that I’ve seriously considered a hopping into whatever unrelated career lane opens up first.
Because the truth is, in the hands of capitalism and dominant culture, branding is used to manipulate us.
Into paying $7 for a bottle of tap water (a true story from a recent trip to Las Vegas).
Into thinking we have a choice between internet service providers.
Into feeling less-than or holier-than-thou for where we buy our toilet paper.
Into cheering for giant enterprises that are known for exploiting humans and earth.
Many branders love to tell you that the very first thing you need to start your business is branding.
Or they tell you that if you already started your business without branding, these are the 15 reasons why you absolutely need branding right this second.
Their lists includes things like: branding makes the right impression, branding establishes your authority, branding tells the world what a pro you are.
I’m here to tell you that’s all a load of hot steaming unmentionable matter.
At least not right now.
In fact, branding can be one giant aesthetically pleasing distraction.
And since there…
I’m sure you’ve seen them around the web. They’re especially popular on Pinterest. And I get the feeling they’re supposed to inspire and awe all of us small business owners.
I’m talking about those intricately detailed 50-page brand manuals.
Even as a brand designer, I find these meticulous documents overwhelming. And, I’ll be honest… I don’t ever want to have to design one.
Don’t get me wrong. Brand manuals have their place in the world.
If you’re running an international conglomerate and have dozens of designers working in HQ, plus ad agencies churning out stuff all around the world, plus…
It’s kind of funny that one of my most frequently asked questions doesn’t seem to have much to do with design. A surprisingly large and completely unscientifically measured percentage of the business owners I’ve talked to have asked:
Should I have a business name or go with my name?
Some of them were just starting out when we talked, which is an expected time to be asking that question.
Most, though…. Well, most were already well on their way and had technically already named their business.
The first few times I got the question, I was surprised.
Here I was…
I started planning an official business right after my daughter was born. Large chunks of my days were spent lying in bed with her, trying to keep even my hair from moving so she wouldn’t wake up from her numerous naps. I was swimming in postpartum hormones, so it’s not surprising that my first idea was to ditch design altogether and go become a midwife.
Some soul searching and a few reality checks later, I realized that I actually still loved design and brought my planning back into familiar waters. …
Not long enough ago, a stranger knocked on my door. She was young and seemed nice and, even though my toddler and I were home alone, I honestly didn’t think twice about opening my door to her.
After telling me how cute my daughter is (so true) and making friendly conversation (much needed), she told me she needed help winning a work contest. If she did enough demonstrations that day, she could win a trip to Las Vegas. She’d never been there and she was only two demonstrations short. Would I let her come in to vacuum just a tiny…
I first heard it way back when I started planning my business, and I’ve heard it countless times since:
Relationships are the key to building a successful business.
I lost count of how many times this piece of wisdom presented itself to me before it actually, finally, sunk in.
Funny how that happens, right?
Early in the year, when I was planning and setting goals, I noticed that most of my business successes could be traced back to the relationships I’d been building. …