We recently stumbled across an approach to brand identity development in AdWeek that had us shaking our heads. It seems that a designer has developed a brand identity, with one catch—it’s missing the company or product behind that brand.
His pitch? Simply purchase the identity package, and you get a ready-to-go brand system for your company (which is now named Hessian, by the way). For $18,000, you can get:
- Company name
- Twitter account
- Tumblr account
- 20+ logo and other designs
- 10+ T-shirt designs
- 8 repeating patterns
- 1 website theme
- 1 app user interface theme
- 5 app icons
- Brand book with guiding principles
- 30 hours of custom design time (for transitioning the brand to the buyer’s needs)
Our thoughts? This is a completely ridiculous idea. While we love new approaches to the standard way of doing things, this concept completely disregards the most important parts of brand identity and strategy development and, as a result, completely misses the mark. Here’s why the brand-in-a-box idea is a huge waste of $18,000:
1) One size does NOT fit all. Brand identity should be based on the actual brand, not just the need for an identity. The development of the identity is rooted in strategy for a reason—it needs to be a reflection of your company. Why would you want an identity that, at its inception, could have been for any company, anywhere in the world? From start to finish, development of a brand identity should be all about you. After all, how can a “brand book with guiding principles” be created before it was applied to your company? Quite simply, it can’t. Especially not if you want it to be strong, make sense and pass the test of time—and certainly not if you want to be differentiated.
2) Tactics should be driven by your brand and strategy. We have nothing against the idea of developing a T-shirt graphic or an app icon. But how do we know that you need these things? Or that they’ll be effective with your target audiences? Or tell your brand story the way it needs to be told? We listen, ask questions and then develop tactics that will work for you based on what we’ve heard. An app might be great, but it might not. Even something as seemingly minor as creating a T-shirt design…well, why spend the money there if it’s not needed? Your dollars might be better spent elsewhere, and we want to allocate those dollars to areas that matter. We can’t quite tell you which areas those are until we’ve had a dialogue. Which brings us to the next point…
3) Conversation is key. You want a partner who is going to listen to you and your needs. What you don’t want is someone to provide ready-made solutions, or assume they have the solution before they know the problem. How would you react if you went to your doctor saying, “I haven’t been feeling well” and without hearing more, he wrote you a prescription for an antibiotic? How would he know you need that? Would you take it…and would you trust him? Just like a good doctor, a good marketing agency has a variety of tools in their toolbox. A smart agency, and a good partner, wants to choose the tools that fit the job. We can only get a true picture of what tools we’ll need by understanding you and your business.
A strong brand is an invaluable asset to any company. It’s not something that’s developed overnight, and it’s certainly not an off-the-shelf product. If you’re wondering how to develop your brand identity, or if you’re curious where to take your brand next, contact us—we’d love to help develop a strategy that works for you.