Brand Development

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a fellow artist about why one persons work sells better than another. I broke it down like this…

Imagine you had a white canvas and you drew a red line across it. At the bottom you placed your signature. Now, imagine (place current famous artists name here) had a white canvas and made the exact same splash of red across the surface and then placed their signature at the bottom. Which canvas do you thunk would sell for more money? The obvious answer is the famous artist.

Next scenario, take a plain white tee and in a basic bold font put the name of your company on the tee (Brand X). Take another plain white tee and in the same exact font place the words Nike on it. Which one do you think would sell for more money? The obvious answer – Nike.

The million dollar question then is, what is it that separates one brand from another? The answer is found within the branding. Lots of blood, sweat and tears.

I once had a client tell me he wanted to start a company that was to serve as a platform for the underground artists. At the same time his company wanted to make political statements and raise awareness globally about injustices. Lastly, he wanted his brand to have a music label component where he could release albums by local artists.

Now those are all great ideas and I’m not knocking any of them. But when he approached me with designs for his catalog his company was reduced to 6 t-shirt designs. Good designs, but nothing about those images conveyed the messages of what he wanted his brand to represent. Not only that, but he didn’t advertise or market his brand in any other ways. Which ultimately means that they were just good ideas with no execution.

A brand is more than just a good idea. A brand is just more than a good design. A brand must mean something.

Let’s go back to the Nike t-shirt scenario. Let’s imagine you and I started a running shoe company today and we make a shirt for our new brand “Run Fun”. Now let’s put our shirt next to Nike’s inside of a major running shoe store (Footlocker, Big 5, Copelands, etc…). When a runner comes in looking for a t-shirt, they will see our name and associate it with nothing. They will look at Nike and think of all the Olympic Gold Medalists that have worn Nike over the years. They may think back to their history with the brand and how much Nike has been involved in and contributed to their sport. They’ll think of athletes they’ve endorsed and commercials they’ve seen and they’ll think about the quality and comfort of the shoes… all this and more, simply by looking at Nike’s brand name. Why? Because Nike has literally supported the sport if running in many different ways over the years.

So, when building Your brand, whether it’s your art, your products or anything else, remember that people need to connect with your company. They need to be proud to endorse it. They need to feel good about your brand on many levels. Your brand needs to stand for something and you need to ensure that you are pro actively staying involved with those causes your brand represents.

My point is simply this… a brand name on a shirt by itself represents nothing, it’s what you DO with that brand that means everything.



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