Don’t Be Afraid of the Wall

Don’t Be Afraid of the Wall

People often talk about creativity as fun, invigorating, winsome and exciting. But, there’s a dark side to creativity that often goes unmentioned, and it usually stops people and projects in their tracks. Brian and I affectionately call it “The Wall.” You know that feeling when you’re happily frolicking through the meadows and fields of creation, the possibilities seem endless and the world feels small, and then suddenly the sky grows dark and you slam face-first into a gigantic brick mass that extends eternally in every direction? Yeah, that feeling. Yucky.

Since we are in the creativity business, we are used to our old friend, the wall. In fact, we can pretty much count on him showing up in every project we do. We also see him show up in our friends’ lives, in the organizations we work in and in our clients’ businesses. Just this week, I was on a strategy call with our clients, a husband and wife who are running their business together. We had sent their logo concepts to them and the wife found one she loved, but the husband suddenly thought that the creative direction of the logos was too narrow and would pigeon-hole their business. You could feel the tension over the phone as they realized they saw their business differently and struggled to find an answer that worked for both of them. The feelings that come along with the wall are frustration, anger, and impatience. I told them not to worry, that everything would work out. And it did. She texted me a few hours later with the perfect solution. So what is this wall and how did I know it would work out?

Because I know the creative process.

The process of creation is hard work. It takes all of our faculties. If it weren’t so hard, it wouldn’t be so vastly satisfying. All of us yearn to leave our mark on the world—to create something that is uniquely ours. To many of us, the creative work we do inside our businesses is part of that mission. And, you’ll probably realize, if you haven’t already, that the more you create, the more that pesky wall will show up and make your life stressful and difficult. The sad part is when people reach the wall and give up. They take it as some kind of sign that they aren’t supposed to do it. We are fooling ourselves if we think that the “right” way forward will be obstacle-free and effortless. This is not the case. Creators are workers. They are over-comers. They are brave. Creators realize that the way forward must be made.

I think it helps to see the wall for what it really is. The wall is not evil. It’s not something to fight against. The wall is simply a sign that you are creating something new. It’s something that has never existed before, and it takes time for your brain to put all the pieces together, establish a new vision and forge a way ahead. The wall is our time to be still and allow ideas to come through us into the world. It is an exercise in patience and faith. So, don’t be afraid of the wall. Treat the wall as a companion along your creative journeys, because without it, we would never know the exhilaration that comes with finding the answer that we’ve been waiting for and bringing into being something that no one else could have created.

Does your Logo Pass the Test?

Does your Logo Pass the Test?

An effective brand identity is crucial to your success as a business. Your logo is the entry point to your brand, and must communicate your brand message clearly and attract the right customers. How do you know if your logo is up to snuff? The best way is to consult a branding expert that can review your brand brief and your marketing materials to make sure your visual brand is consistent with your original intentions. But, here are six hallmarks of great logo design that you can look for in your brand.

#1—Memorable

It really doesn’t matter how many people see your logo if they don’t remember it. Part of what makes branding so valuable is that when a brand is easy to remember and is immediately recognizable, it builds brand awareness in the minds of your customers. As they get to know and interact with your brand, your logo is attached to the expectations they come to adopt towards your brand. If your brand does a good job of fulfilling its promises consistently, your customers will become loyal and insist on your brand every time.

#2—Authentic

Your logo needs to portray who your company really is at it’s heart as well as hint at your brand promise. Before designing your logo, make sure you go through a brand strategy development process so that you know what your brand purpose, position, promise and personality are. Your visual brand can then be designed to reflect your strategy.

#3—Differentiated

There is a lot of white noise advertising out there, but only a fraction of businesses invest in their branding. By going through the effort of creating a great brand identity, you are literally putting yourself ahead of the crowd. A good brand identity will visually demonstrate to your customers what makes your company different from your competition, and you will attract the customers that align with your values.

#4—Sustainable

It’s important to avoid trends in designing your brand identity so that your brand will continue to look relevant and up to date and stand the test of time. Consistency is vital in the longevity of a brand, and although some brands need a little refresh from time to time, it can damage brand equity to make major changes.

#5—Flexible

When designing your brand identity, make sure you put yourself into the future of your business. Do you see yourself expanding or adding new products and services? Is your logo flexible enough to accommodate growth, or does it pigeonhole you?

#6—Meaningful

Your logo can go a long way in communicating your company’s message when it visually conveys meaning above just the words. Images, symbols, shape, color, fonts and design all play a role in infusing meaning into the graphics.

6 Things to Consider when Naming your Brand

6 Things to Consider when Naming your Brand

If you’ve ever named a baby, you know how difficult finding just the right name can be, after all, that baby will be stuck with the one you pick. No pressure. In our family, we have to pass all of the names we are considering for a baby through my husband’s brother, who then tries to come up with every possible nickname the kids at school could tease him/her with. Whichever names have the least possibilities stay on the list.

Naming your company can be even more difficult because the name of your brand needs to do more for your business than just be what people call you. In Naming for Power, Naseem Javed says, “In today’s competitive world, a name must function as a total messenger.” Think about that. Wow. A total messenger for your brand. That is a big job for one or two words. It’s an understatement that those one or two words need to be chosen carefully. Oftentimes, our naming lists can get into the hundreds before we find a name that passes all of the following tests.

In fact, 6 things need to go into the consideration of the name of your brand.

#1 Memorable

First and foremost, if people can’t remember, pronounce, or spell your name, it will take a lot more advertising dollars to get people to remember it. It also needs to be distinctive and stand out from the competition. Make a list of the names of your competitors so you can compare your name options to those that are already in the marketplace.

#2 Meaningful

Your name needs to support the positioning of your brand and speak to the nature of your company. In other words, it needs to communicate to your customers who you are, what you do, and how you are different from all of the other companies that do what you do. We recommend that you do a thorough job of creating your brand BEFORE deciding on a name, so that you can ensure that the name does support the brand positioning instead of working backwards to create a brand that supports your name.

Al Ries & Jack Trout, authors of Positioning, say “The name is the hook that hangs the brand on the product ladder in the prospect’s mind. In the positioning era, the single most important marketing decision you can make is what to name the product.”

#3 Stretchy

Like a good pair of yoga pants, your name needs to allow room for your business to grow. Does your brand name put your business in a position where it can change, build brand extensions, add new products or services and the name still make sense? The name you choose will need to be sustainable over time.

#4 Positive

It’s a good idea to make sure your name doesn’t unintentionally infer negative connotations. One thing to keep in mind, is that if your brand intends to do business internationally, also do a check to make sure the name doesn’t possess negative connotations in other languages. For example in the 1950s and 60s, there was a Swedish car magazine named “Fart”, which in Swedish translates to “speed”. You can probably see how this name would be embarrassing in a global setting. Here is a fun article with more branding blunders. The most prevalent languages are English, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic, Bengali, Hindustani and Mandarin.

#5 Protectable

Your name is the most important part of your brand, and needs to be defendable. Finding a name that is legally protectable is becoming more and more difficult. You can perform a business name search through your state’s website and also a nationwide Trademark search through TESS. Make sure that it can be owned and trademarked and that the domain is available. Here is a great article that goes more into depth on deciding whether or not you need a trademark.

As far as your domain goes, most likely the .com will not be available or it will be for sale for a lot of money. We counsel people to get creative with their domain names by using a tagline or adding some descriptive words to it. If your company name is Lightening, and lightening.com is taken, you could do lighteningstrikes.com or lighteningstorm.com, or some other words that are associated with your business. In our case, rightthink.com was taken, so we opted for adding a hyphen like this: right-think.com.

Make sure you visit the sites that are using similar names as you and check to see that their products/services are different enough from yours so as to not confuse visitors who are looking for your site.

#6 Visual

Does the name conjure up some delectable concepts that can influence the art of the brand? The graphic elements of your brand will be much more memorable to others, if your name can play into them.

To get you started on your brainstorming, here are some ideas to turn to for inspiration:

Language

Meaning

Personality

Dictionaries

Thesauruses

Latin

Greek

Foreign Language

Mass Culture

Poetry

TV

Music

History

Art

Commerce

Colors

Symbols

Metaphors

Analogies

Sounds

Science

Technology

Astronomy

Myths

Stories

Values

Dreams

Have fun and good luck with naming your company! Let us know what you came up with!