Branding: Advice for Branding Others
Branding is one of my favorite things when it comes to media communications. It's creating the face of a company or a person, and can be the thing to make or break them before they even start. With that being said, it can be pretty important to make sure you're doing it right. So where do you start? What do you do? Well, the best way to learn, is to do. But since we don't have time for you to "do", we're going to look back at how I branded my friend and roommate, Josh Collier.
This is Josh: a creative writing student at Full Sail. Branding Josh came with a lot of work. at that time, I had just finished my second month in media communications and was sure that I knew what I was doing. So I decided we were going to give Josh a brand and a website.
My initial thought process was asking him what he liked. Josh is a pretty nerdy guy so I figured it would be something pretty technical or geeky. Then Josh brought up his interests in art deco. So I took that and ran with it, creating this logo. I thought this logo was the bee's knees and went even further. Deciding that Josh needed a website. This brought me to my first lesson in branding.
Lesson One: Make sure your brand can survive on all mediums.
This was hard for me to understand at first but it's the most important thing. What you design needs to be able to look good on every platform your client plans to take it to. Having a really cool logo that looks good on a Facebook banner is great, but will they get more use out of that logo if all they can do is use it on Facebook?
Continuing on the with the story: The website I created for Josh really focused on the weird aspect of who he was. He really is an oddball and I wanted that to come out loud and clear on the website. So my plan was to take this whole edgy, art deco design, and implement it into the whole page. This ended with me making knock off versions of his original logo. Every page title was designed like this. It ended up looking so extra and busy that the website ended up looking pretty dopey. The end result was a pretty meh website. Bringing me to my second lesson in branding.
Lesson Two: If you're first attempt at a brand doesn't work, try again!
Giving up never works to fix a problem. I remember after getting feedback on how bad my first website ever looked, I was pretty bummed and didn't really want to get back into web design or branding for that matter. If it had not have been for Josh pushing me to give it a second try, I'm not sure I would have tried again.
Following the push from Josh to create something new for his brand. I was hurting for inspiration. Clearly art deco was not working out and I had no idea where to go. I asked Josh what he liked, he likes giant robots, anime, Sonic the Hedgehog, and other kid stuff, while also enjoying the over analyzing of in depth very adult themed things. How do you brand that?! Well I took the robot idea and ran with that. The creative process is weird. Sometimes it can lead to cool things. Other times you end up with this. However this design is what led me to making what would soon become Josh's current brand. Doing the robot design was great, but it was really missing something and was way to complicated to be a logo of any sort. So at this point, I was just sitting around waiting for my brain to come up with something I could use, then Josh, who was also researching things to base his logo off of, showed a face of excitement. "Cardboard robot!"
Lesson Three: It's not your brand so it's not you're job to like it.
I hated this idea. First, my skills in Illustrator were not going to be able to make this logo look good. I was mad at him for pushing this idea onto me. "No one is going to like this." I said annoyed. This was my biggest mistake. It's not my job to like what I am designing. My job is to create the brand for what he wants. And if he wants a cardboard robot. Then it was my job to make the cardboard robot. The process took about four hours because I had no idea of how to do what I needed to do. The end result was this:
Building this was easily the hardest thing I have ever done in branding. But we still weren't done. Now that his logo was done. We had to rebrand the entire website. and oh boy. That was an adventure!
Lesson Four: Save themes. Just... Yeah... (This isn't a branding tip I know)
I'm not going to lie. I'm an forgetful sometimes, and I'm still trying to learn how to see the big picture. Themes are things that enable you to quickly change all of the same elements on a website. For example if you want all your headings to be Times New Roman instead of Comic Sans (this is an example, please never use those fonts) you can just change the theme rather than having to go through and change every individual heading. I didn't make this choice so I ended up paying the price with time. But eventually the website was redone.
So the moral of the story is: don't be afraid to rebrand. But also don't rely too hard on rebranding in order to excuse bad design. My instructor Emily had great advice "Don't let perfect, be the enemy of good." Don't try to perfect something to the point of never finishing it. Hope this little story was found helpful or inspirational in some way. Be sure to check out Josh's Website available in my portfolio.