Since this blog is a random scattershot of what runs through my head, I don’t think it’s realistic to “set a direction” for it or tell you I’m “refocusing its theme” or “narrowing my scope.” Odds are, I’ll still be posting sketches and songs that I need to get out of my fingers or ears. However, more and more of my mental space is being taken up by thinking about brands and branding — what brand is, how it’s changing, how it relates to postmodern storytelling and the evolution of society — that kind of jazz.
So I think it’s safe to say that this blog will be more heavily focused on branding from here on out, at least until I’ve said all I have to say about the topic. Why, you may ask?
1. Because I eat this stuff for breakfast.
Branding is my jam, and I love talking and thinking about what works for brands, what hinders them, and how they could be great. I haunt the apple.com/trailers page not because I go to the movies often, but because every poster and trailer is a full brand experience captured in a perfect little nugget. I follow the Brand New blog, Logo Design Love, Matchstic, Wolff Olins, Identity Designed and more because I can’t get enough brand news or analysis. I intentionally don’t start conversations with people about all of this because if I start talking about brand, I know I’ll go on and on and on and they’ll tell me to please for the love of all that is good and pure in this world to shut my yammering pie-hole (or words to that effect).
Hence, pouring my thoughts out here where they can do no harm — and, hopefully, maybe even do some good to those who are actually interested.
2. Because it matters to people and organizations.
If I may generalize for a moment, our society is becoming more visual, design-savvy, and relational every day, and that’s an environment in which branding can make or break the bottom line. In a struggling economy, a black or red bottom line is the difference between recovery and recession, which means that brand, among other things, has the power to change the course of the country and to keep food on family’s table. Sure, branding is just one element in the mix, but its importance is only increasing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Is branding just a trend, though? A popular marketing buzzword, soon to be replaced by the C-Suite with “social” or “augmented”? No. Brand is here to stay, because brand is, in effect, the holistic conception of the presentation of the company (among other things), and that will never be unimportant to companies trying to make an impression.
3. Because it’s in the news.
The topic is sustainable not just because there’s a lot to say about it (which there is, but others — Alina Wheeler, Marty Neumeier, and more — have said much of that well already), but because people are talking and thinking about brand. Organizations, from companies to museums to sports teams to presidential candidates, are spending millions of dollars on incredibly strategic rebranding efforts. The community of viewers is shooting down efforts like the Gap debacle, and companies are responding in real time to that kind of feedback. Apple’s brand is wavering in the wake of Steve Jobs’ passing, and Microsoft is putting a stake in the ground with its own aesthetic.
People are interested in the topic, and since — for once — this is a conversation where I actually might have something to contribute (unlike any conversation about sports that ever existed), I’d love to join in and add what I can to the pile.
This whole writing-about-branding thing will work best, of course, if it’s not just me talking in an empty room, but an open discussion with all interested parties. So as I start breaking into topics like “Brand basics for ugly organizations,” “Why Microsoft’s new branding is scary,” “Falling in brand-love,” etc., I hope that you’ll feel free to sound off in the comments and/or bring along anyone who you think might be interested to the party. If this works out the way I think it will, we’ll have a fun time learning together about brands, and in the end we’ll create an archive of a conversation that led to tangible results of better brands and deeper brand thinking.
Let’s get started!