Most of us instantly recognize famous brands like McDonald’s®, Nike® or Coca-Cola® — maybe we’re even familiar with branding as a concept and discipline. From the beginning, branding has always been about making your mark, both literally and figuratively, but when and where did it all begin? How did branding evolve into what it is today? Most importantly, why is it so important to get it right? Like any good story, here’s the who, what, where, why, when, and how.

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

The Who: OBs = Original Branders

Dating as far back as the 1500s, the word brand, from the Norse word brandr or “to burn,” refers to…


When most of us think of polyester fabric, we think double knit leisure suits or loud butterfly color shirts popular in the 1960s and 70s. Polyester actually has a much longer history. In the mid-1930s, W.H. Carothers, a DuPont employee, figured out that he could create fibers by mixing carboxyl acids and alcohols. Sadly, (or maybe not so sadly) the technology was shelved due to the discovery of Nylon. In 1939, two British scientists picked up where Carothers left off, and two years later the first true polyester fabric, Terylene, came into being.

Photo © iStock/karammiri

By the early 1950s, polyester fabric was…


We’ve all browsed through glossy fashion magazines sitting in some waiting room or salon, educating ourselves about this season’s ‘it‘ color trends. But who decides which colors will be in vogue, or in the pages Vogue for that matter? You guessed it…Pantone!

Photo by Uby Yanes on Unsplash

Most graphic designers and print professionals are familiar with Pantone® and their global standard Pantone Matching System (PMS for short) as THE global standard for assuring project colors will match across various substrates (be it paper, plastic, or textiles), printed and digital. But did you know that what started out as a printing industry standard has evolved to…


As I began my career, the computer was becoming more and more an integral part of a designer’s toolkit; but at that time, solid hand skills were still encouraged and expected. It was still customary to present tight pencils or marker comps to clients to communicate initial concepts. Of course many years have passed, and laptops, devices, and graphic software now dominate. As far as design goes, pencil sketches are pretty much relegated to a sketchbook, at best. Over the years, my hand skills pretty much went to sh*t!

Cow skull drawing. Not too shabby!

A few years ago, I decided to do something about it…


Most of us work in an office — nowadays, likely a home office. Most of us also use desk accessories: pens, stapler, paper clips, sticky notes, a desk lamp — but are they fun? Many of us have resigned ourselves to boring black staplers and run-of-the-mill pencil holders — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Even Milton from Office Space appreciated a striking red Swingline stapler.

Image from Little White Lies blog

Personally speaking, I’m a HUGE fan of novelty items of all sorts: socks, kitchen gadgets, desk accessories, coffee mugs — you name it! Just because you use something to perform a mundane…


As we shelter-in-place: maybe work at home, meet and socialize on Zoom, don our ‘business casual’ PJs, and place grocery orders online, we’ll all adjusting to a new paradigm. (Is it just me, or is securing a coveted delivery slot like attempting to be “caller number 10” to win those HOT concert tickets?). None of us have any idea when this will end, but despite this once-in-a-lifetime crisis, I’m personally encouraged by peoples’ creativity.

From the Getty Museum’s Twitter challenge to people to create famous works of art using only household items and family members/pets, to song-smiths coming up with…


Ah, those long nights in the campus computer lab working endless hours on design projects. It was the early 90s, and graphic design majors worked in INT rub down letters, Rapidograph pens and Pantone® markers, but also on Apple® beige boxes loaded with Aldus® Freehand, Adobe® Illustrator 88 and Adobe® Photoshop 1.5. Those were the days when pasteup met computers, analog met digital, and hand craft met automation.

Okay, so this isn’t a photo of our actual computer lab, and I don’t even think those are Apple® computers, but you get the idea. Image courtesy of wikicommons.org.

On class projects we fulfilled every role, wore every hat: art director, production artist, illustrator, photographer, copywriter, and project manager — often roping our classmates and friends (or even ourselves) into modeling…


With ’Berta captaining the ship, it’s sure you’re going to achieve your mission!

Bored with work? Don’t feel like making yet another paper airplane? Download, print, and assemble your very own intergalactic spaceship — piloted by ‘Berta! Fly it around the room while making rocket sound effects, display it on your desk, or daydream about what it would be like to be an astronaut…ENJOY!

And if you’re a startup—or any venture for that matter—looking for a brand expert who can help take your project to the next level, whatever the brand…Leave It to ’Berta!


According to urbandictionary.com, chicken scratch is defined as:
“Incredibly messy handwriting that is nearly impossible to read. Usually the only person who can read it is the person that wrote it. Sometimes not even they can read it after a while. The writing looks like the footprints and/or scratches chickens leave in the dirt hence the name.”

The same concept applies to sketches. My sketches.

It’s embarrassing, really, showing my sketches to other people. They typically consist of incoherent scribbles, cross-outs, and indecipherable handwritten notes all over the page. Even I can’t figure out what I had in mind half…


How do you brand yourself as a designer? Texas-style with a branding iron? Of course not, because that would smart! Branding your skills as a designer is about marketing yourself in a creative, unexpected, stand-out-from-the-crowd way. How do I create a memorable “me,” you ask? Well, it takes some reflection, time and ingenuity, but it’s well worth it. A well-crafted personal brand will serve you well as a designer throughout your career — maybe lasting the length your career — becoming more refined over time, like a fine wine.

When I started out, I had a lame resume design. Well…

Martini Minute

Fun, insightful reading on all things colorful and creative

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store