A wise man once said that branding is more than just a logo. This is true, but a good logo is a big part of what makes your brand recognisable to the general public. I’ve recently been introduced to a couple of games based around logos – one where you are given a logo and have to choose the company it belongs to, and one where you are shown only part of a logo (a couple of letters, a block of colour, etc.) and again have to identify the company which uses it. I’ve found these games very enlightening, and I was really shocked at how many logos I was aware of and could guess instantly. For example, I would never be able to describe to you the Alfa Romeo logo, but when it popped up on screen (minus the words Alfa Romeo of course) I straight away knew what it was. The same happened with the Goodyear winged sandal, John Deere (Why on Earth am I familiar with the John Deere logo? I have no tractor experience whatsoever!), and a number of other brands that I’m surprised that I recognise.
I found it especially surprising how familiar I was with American brands – Target, USPS, UPS, and Bank of America among others – products, companies, and services that I have never used in my life and yet, due to things like TV and other forms of media I guess, they are ingrained in my mind and very easily recognisable.
This kind of made me start to think again about my personal brand. What name should I go by professionally – my own personal name, or a company name? I like my name well enough, but I have a name I’ve used online for my Twitter and Instagram accounts which I feel fits with who I think I want to be in the “real world” or at least throughout fourth year and post-graduation (oh my god fourth year panic). The name is simply my initials spelt out, and I do worry that sometimes people don’t get it and I have to explain it, but I like it and it feels comfortable to me. I think I like the idea of keeping things away from my real full name, but I suppose this is something I have to do some proper work on over summer.
In my Design and the Market personal enterprise proposal I gave myself a timetable of summer work and research, and part of this was deciding on what name to use, setting up a proper website, and sorting out all of that fiddly stuff. I think what I have to do is just go with it – have a somewhat solid idea and make it work, because as my uni work and business self evolve it’ll be easier to change and update any online presence, rather than wait until halfway through fourth year to try to develop a website and online persona from nowhere when there’s lots of other important nonsense going on. Will I need a logo though? That’s the question.
In my Design and the Market module, we’ve recently begun workshops that help us work through NESTA’s creative enterprise toolkit, in order to get us thinking in a creative, entrepreneurial, business-minded, you-can-do-it kind of way. It’s kind of daunting, and I imagine especially so if you don’t even want to start a business, but I appreciate why we’re working through the programme; it’s a business module (obviously) and the aim is to give us a good understanding of business, and how the creative industries work. These are all going to be useful skills, no matter what we end up working as in the future. The toolkit consists of four little booklets which provide you with information on how to shape your creative idea into a viable business, and worksheets to help explore and visualise the key issues behind your idea.
I unfortunately missed the first workshop, which I was actually really looking forward to (I’ve mentioned before how I really want to work on personal branding and developing who I am as a designer and, I suppose, businessperson). The first workshop had the class working on identifying their values. I’ve since completed the worksheet after speaking with a couple of classmates and other people who’ve worked through the toolkit. The worksheet asks you to identify values and place them according to how important they are – always important, sometimes important, rarely important, and never important. In my always important column I had things like fun, passion, communication, Scottish/UK-based, and artisanal/skilled work.
The second exercise was evidence modelling, which is where you succinctly describe your business idea (“Beautiful limited-run handmade printed textile interiors accessories & prints, based in Scotland, and printed fabrics available to buy by-the-metre.”) and describe what impacts your business will have on the world, good and bad. My business will enhance peoples’ home comforts, and revitalise dreary interiors with unique and intriguing pieces to delight and create bonds and memories. It will replace mass-produced interiors accessories; revive the public’s interest in traditional and artisanal skills, and owning items with a back-story; the backlash of my business becoming super-successful is that the market for mass-produced generic interiors accessories will dry up and lots of shops will sadly have to close down, and I will become so successful that I’ll have to employ huge manufacturing factories to keep up with demand, and will eventually lose the quirky, handmade feel of my work.
We were also asked to do fake evidence success, where you imagine a story of success and write or draw it out. This exercise was quite fun – I wrote a short Very Influential Design Blog post about how fantastic my work is, and why everyone should buy the things I make.
Yesterday we worked on a few more worksheets, defining our customers, blueprint modelling, and relationship modelling. I’ll write about this soon – it was a lot to think about!
The beginning of my Advertising and Branding module has been quite enlightening – one of the things I’ve found most interesting so far is something that I think we all know, but don’t really think about too much – that things are advertised based on their benefits, and not what the item actually is, the “why” rather than the “what”. Most of us probably understand that owning a certain car won’t necessarily make you a cooler or more fun person, and eating a certain cereal won’t generally make you slim and cheerful, but if you take lots of advertising at face value that’s what you might begin to think.
For example, this advert for Alpen cereal isn’t really selling cereal. It’s selling the benefits of eating said cereal, the ideal of a healthy lifestyle. It’s saying “you could eat this cereal which means that you’ll be healthy and happy and desirable”. And good at stretching and looking pretty in meadows. These things appeal to the irrational side of people rather than the rational, whereas you could advertise the same cereal by talking about the taste, nutritional information, and ingredients (only 170Kcal per 45g serving, only 0.12g of salt per 45g serving, high in fibre, made with wholegrain wheat and rolled oats, contains raisins and hazelnuts, etc.). Rationally, you’ll buy your cereal because it tastes nice, has decent ingredients, isn’t too bad for you; irrationally, you’ll buy it because eating it will make you healthy and fit and slim.
Here’s a photo of a magazine advert for some hair product, “texturizing salt spray” more specifically. Aside from the shot of the product bottle, the ad doesn’t really give us much information. “Make waves; get tousled” and “your style, un-styled” are quick and snappy tag lines, giving a cool, young, to-the-point feel to the advert. The model with fabulous hair is somewhat exposed and looking at us straight-on, giving the impression of confidence. “You mess with my head,” is a slogan that implies having such fabulous hair could somehow confuse people and “mess with their heads”, and it implies that you will be tempting and desirable. It’s saying “you could use this hair product which means that you’ll have textured hair and be desirable like this model. Rationally, you will buy this product to style your hair with; irrationally, you will buy it because you feel that when your hair is styled in a particular way it will make you more attractive and confident.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We buy based on the benefits of a product; rational benefits like “I need a computer to do my work” and “it has specifications that meet my needs” and “the operating system is intuitive to use”, and irrational ones like “a silver, flashy one will make me look like I know what I’m doing” and “it’s a souped-up version of the one my friend has”. This is something worth thinking about next time I do any shopping – do I really want this exact item for x purpose, or am I buying it over the competition because I think it’ll somehow make me better?