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NOTABLE! Lex DeVille's: How to Build a Kickass 4-Step Brand

Vito

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Great post, Lex. This is an excellent starting point for people that want to go down this route.

Step 4 is especially important. There's a fairly common misconception that a brand design is the logotype/mark (unfortunately even among some less-experienced designers) but the logo, although important, is one relatively small piece of the puzzle. You could have a reasonably nondescript, simple logo and still have an amazing brand.

A couple of additional points of advice, if you don't mind me chiming in:

– If you're new to design, keep it simple. Often times less is more and a simple sans-serif typeface on its own or along with an equally simple 1 to 2 colour logomark can go a long way. It needs to be easy to recognise and produce at multiple sizes across multiple applications – 1 or 2 colour simple logos are your best bet.

– (Again, if you're new) Start small and iterate. Keep things simple initially, get feedback, listen to your customers and grow the brand piece by piece. If you start small and simple you can shape your brand and build your voice over time based on what resonates with your audience – if you go balls deep there's a chance you misjudge your audience, it doesn't resonate with them and you'll have a hard time steering your ship in another direction (although not impossible).

It's also much easier to work towards something when you are aware of good examples of what you're trying to achieve. If you're really interested in this stuff, have a look at the websites below or others for inspiration and to gain an understanding of what a good, full identity design looks like (although these are more based on the visual side of things rather than tone of voice etc.):

IdentityDesigned.com – (a great, simple example is PetBarn).
BPandO .org – (a great example is DrJart. Super simple logo and colours, really effective brand design)

Notes:
1 – You won't like everything on these websites, but that's entirely the point. You're creating something that speaks to your audience specifically, not the entire world (unless of course that's your audience).
2 – Don't be afraid to pick up ideas from, especially colours. See a palette and typeface you really like? Alter it slightly and use it.

—————

Additionally, and I might be going a bit off topic here, but...

(This is not related specifically to Lex, just came to mind as I seen the debate and I've seen a lot of comments on a lot of threads over the years)

I have to say, I do see that designers (as a profession) catch a disproportionate amount of heat on the forum for being a waste of money or charlatans. The unfortunate thing about design being a digital business is that people can fake experience and present themselves as much better and more experienced than they actually are.

As with any other discipline, you get what you pay for. 95%+ of designers on places like Fiverr and Upwork are inexperienced at best and just plain bad at their job at worst. If your budget is a couple hundred dollars for a logo and/or brand design, be prepared to get poor results which will be the case the majority of times. If you've had a bad experience with a designer, you've found a bad designer (or you're a bad client :D) – that doesn't mean designers are bad or a waste of money.

My advice, if your budget is low and you really can't use Illustrator/Inkscape is to come up with the logo idea yourself, sketch it out, then find someone on Fiverr/Upwork to clean it up and turn it into a proper, vector logo. Limit the amount of genuine creative work they have to do.

A new business does not need a multi-thousand dollar logo/brand design unless it's a well-funded startup that's going to try and unsettle competitors very quickly and even then it might not need it. If a designer is trying to convince you that you need it but can't give you clear, quantifiable business reasons as to why – go somewhere else, quickly. Great designers can do great design, but it starts with them understanding the business side of things first. The truth is 99% of people on TFF do not need it.

Lex's point at the top is true – designing something is not difficult. There is a caveat though; it might be fairly easy to design something, but designing something great and timeless is another thing altogether. That doesn't mean it's impossible for someone new, but it's difficult. Have fun and be patient.

(PS: Lex has also obviously got a fairly good eye for design, which can't be discounted ;))

Anyway, sorry for the tangent, great post.
 

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Xeon

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If you want your customer to feel like a S.W.A.T. team member even though he's just a security guard, then you might consider a tactical theme. You'd name your products things like "A.T.A.C. Storm Boot" or "A.T.A.C. Shield Boot" both of which trigger mental stories of attacking, shielding, storming, and kicking - things S.W.A.T. does and security guards imagine they do.

When the guard wears your boots around the mall, he's not just another donut-munching, observe and report, minimum wage teenage babysitter . He's an Elite Tactical Security Officer!
- What stories do they tell themselves AND others about the brand?
- What fantasies do you want to trigger them to imagine, feel and experience?
The "what fantasies do you want to trigger them to imagine, feel and experience" is illustrated with your "he's not just another donut-munching, observe and report, minimum wage teenage babysitter".

But what about the "What stories do they tell themselves AND others about the brand?"

Using your example of the security guard, what sort of stories would he be telling himself and his friends? That he feels like a SWAT team member when he wears those boots, in the heat of the operation, about to storm into the drug smugglers' house with 6 other operators, and that he's getting his flash bang grenade ready?
 
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Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

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The "what fantasies do you want to trigger them to imagine, feel and experience" is illustrated with your "he's not just another donut-munching, observe and report, minimum wage teenage babysitter".

But what about the "What stories do they tell themselves AND others about the brand?"

Using your example of the security guard, what sort of stories would he be telling himself and his friends? That he feels like a SWAT team member when he wears those boots, in the heat of the operation, about to storm into the drug smugglers' house with 6 other operators, and that he's getting his flash bang grenade ready?
When people talk about brands they describe them using metaphors. "It's a Police brand." "It's a S.W.A.T. brand." "It's a cowboy brand." But they can only form the proper metaphor when the brand is pulled together with the correct theme and imagery for the metaphors they want people to use.

If 5.11 Tactical used pink and black instead of orange and black colors, then people would describe them as a "Women's Tactical Brand" not a "Tactical Brand" and suddenly very few males, especially male security guards, would buy their products.

Security guards don't tell themselves stories (not in the way you'd read a book to a child). It's their internal voice I'm referring to. All the feelings, emotions and thoughts they have about the kind of people who wear this product. If S.W.A.T. members wear 5.11, then the security guard creates a mental association between himself and S.W.A.T. because the two become one through the brand's identity.

Suddenly there is no S.W.A.T. and there is no security guard (and there is no spoon). There is only an in-group of 5.11 wearers. A tribe of super-elites who kick down doors, throw flash bangs, do complex grappling take downs. Hell, these Expendables even infiltrate behind enemy lines in the middle of the night with only a pistol, 5 bullets and no backup.

Except in reality there is no mission, no orders, and no connection other than that they all wear a premium tactical brand of clothing. So the security guard sees himself as S.W.A.T. and he wants to believe that others view him that way too. S.W.A.T. members get to pretend they are Special Forces. Special Forces get to pretend they are Jason Borne. And Jason Borne gets to pretend he's Chuck Norris (assuming Chuck Norris wore 5.11 boots!).
 

Xeon

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When people talk about brands they describe them using metaphors. "It's a Police brand." "It's a S.W.A.T. brand." "It's a cowboy brand." But they can only form the proper metaphor when the brand is pulled together with the correct theme and imagery for the metaphors they want people to use.

If 5.11 Tactical used pink and black instead of orange and black colors, then people would describe them as a "Women's Tactical Brand" not a "Tactical Brand" and suddenly very few males, especially male security guards, would buy their products.

Security guards don't tell themselves stories (not in the way you'd read a book to a child). It's their internal voice I'm referring to. All the feelings, emotions and thoughts they have about the kind of people who wear this product. If S.W.A.T. members wear 5.11, then the security guard creates a mental association between himself and S.W.A.T. because the two become one through the brand's identity.

Suddenly there is no S.W.A.T. and there is no security guard (and there is no spoon). There is only an in-group of 5.11 wearers. A tribe of super-elites who kick down doors, throw flash bangs, do complex grappling take downs. Hell, these Expendables even infiltrate behind enemy lines in the middle of the night with only a pistol, 5 bullets and no backup.

Except in reality there is no mission, no orders, and no connection other than that they all wear a premium tactical brand of clothing. So the security guard sees himself as S.W.A.T. and he wants to believe that others view him that way too. S.W.A.T. members get to pretend they are Special Forces. Special Forces get to pretend they are Jason Borne. And Jason Borne gets to pretend he's Chuck Norris (assuming Chuck Norris wore 5.11 boots!).
Thanks for the detailed examples. It's clear now!
Too bad the rep system got removed.....:(
 

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