HOW (NOT) TO DECIDE ON A BRAND DESIGNER
BRAND. What does it mean? One definition is A type of product made by a particular company'. A pretty uninspiring definition when you consider the billions we spend creating, building, protecting, aspiring to, identifying with and buying brands. There is even an app for a game to recognise brand emblems. It goes deep into our subconscience and dictates our patterns of behaviour, analysed by all manner of company'. Further exploration of what it means may be like trying to answer the meaning of life so, back to the beginnings of how we go about (or not) creating a brand/logo/emblem that we hope, will someday have world-wide recognition. Here's my story and my lessons.... Way back when I began my consultancy business, I was recommended to meet someone who had a brand design company. We met, there were good synergies between us and she extended me an invitation that was flattering (on some level, a lot of women, however accomplished, cannot quite believe that they are worthy; yep, me too). It somewhat impaired my objectiveness and I left common sense (which I have read should be considered a super-power) behind and broke my own cardinal rule which is; never have a choice of one, in any service you retain or person you employ. I agreed a fee and was sent a contract that required me to pay the full amount upfront. Luckily, sense prevailed and I agreed to pay half for the branding and half at a later date for the website (which we never did). After full discussions on the brand, meaning, USP's, audience, competitors, logo etc., I was presented with some options and after some time agreed one, but with misgivings that I probably did not communicate until I got to what I wanted. Why? I did not want to jeopardise the (potential of) relationship, I felt inadequate in the presence of a 'creative genius' and I was worried it would increase the costs. I was never quite comfortable or proud of the logo and in the end, I retained another designer and while I paid less this time, nevertheless I paid twice. If you are reading this, please do not be offended, this is about my mistakes and not your creativity.
When it came to the branding for MERUMAYA Integrative Effective Skincare®, I did a lot of research and spent some time meeting with a number of designers. Individuals, small and medium companies. I researched those that had designed brands that I admired, took recommendations and met one at a networking event. I checked their portfolio or work on their websites and looked at their designs on packaging in the retail environment. I wrote a detailed Brief that was given to everyone after they signed an NDA (non disclosure agreement). I fully discussed the brief with each. This time, I insisted that those interested, give me some idea of the design route they would take, in the form of three options. I got quotes from £2,000 to £35,000. After an elimination process three were keen enough to present their thoughts and in the end, I went with the designer that had done the second logo for the consultancy. He created many options but guess what? Nothing was making my heart race so, I paid him for the work he had done thus far and began the search again. Aaargh! I have since recommended him for other work that he has won because he is good.
My Husby was exasperated and inside, I questioned myself even more. Two mistakes in this area - was it me? I found someone else and before making a final decision, sent the design options I liked, to friends and industry/brand experts and the vast majority came back with the same decision, that incidentally was not my favourite, but was the right choice. My favourite (last on the top row) was considered too bright to be taken seriously as a skin care brand and too 'ethnic' a pattern, especially given that the brand name sounds a tad unfamiliar. though it is just a made up name. I compensated by having the front door on our new house painted bright orange and one bathroom has orange cabinetry; it's such a happy colour. The design that most voted for is the one I am using but with a more feminine colour combination. You'll just have to wait and see it in the flesh.... but in the meantime, here are a selection of those that were considered (they are copyrighted so, please do not reproduce or use).
Lesson - always have at least three options to choose from when retaining services or employing anyone. This gives comparisons in all areas including financial.
Lesson - create a clear and measurable, written brief and give the same to each designer so that you are comparing apples with apples.
Lesson - believe in yourself; your achievements brought you to this point. So what if you are not fantastic at everything, just surround yourself with people or service providers that are great at what you are not. One of my inspirations was a star sign I came across in a magazine that was so timely.
Lesson - if it is not right, don't settle. 'It will do,' will never do
Lesson - never pay for anything in full, up front
Lesson - Ask every potential supplier to sign an NDA before you reveal information about your brand.
Recommend; networking groups - @thesorority, @bhive, @UEL, those held by your bank, industry or professional, @CEW Ask for a free taster period before signing up to annual fee's.
5P2HL - gratitude - I am very grateful for everyone's comments and encouragement. Thank you.
Please leave your comments below so we all share.