Before I got into brand strategy and messaging, I was a graphic designer for about 12 years (up until 2009). That experience prepared me to see that the best branding process leaves clients feeling ready to promote themselves. My design clients showed up asking for a visual representation of their identity, and left feeling confident and proud when talking about their business.
But at the beginning of each project, they often didn’t really know who they were. This was my favorite stage of the process—the unknown that held the potential for self-realization…
I realize now, branding was truly never about the illustrations, the photographs, the placement of these elements together, or the colors… those were simply the things we focused on while traveling a road seeking clarity, asking the question, “does this feel like you?”
Branding was always about the journey my clients went through—starting first with this feeling of being in a fog, and ending up with this sense of who they were and as a result what they would do to share themselves with customers. In other words, with inner clarity came inspiration.
While we engaged in discussion around the way things looked, this design process of saying“yes” to one idea and “no” to another, was simply the refining of their sense of self; their practice of articulating by way of conversation what was aligned with who they were and what was not.
Over time, the design iterations gave them a way to affirm themselves, so that when the designs were removed from the conversation, even without the mock-ups, or the slide presentations… even if they were in an elevator or on the beach, they could tell you who they were without the need for a logo or an image.
Who they were, their brand, had become embodied with clarity; they lived and breathed their identity with greater depth and ease. Not because their logo was blue or because it had an eye that looked like a hawk. They embodied clarity because of the organic, iterative conversations—you know, the way people change over time when you ask them to declare over and over again who they really are.
The fact that they had this end product, be it a new logo, or poster, or website—this was simply a representation, a reminder of the clarity they had attained in themselves.