Graphology. Brand Signatures. Typefaces and Fonts.

Graphology. Brand Signatures. Typefaces and Fonts.I notice people’s handwriting and signatures. Whether you realize it or not, it has far reaching impact on how you and your brand are perceived.

When I first learned to write, two comments were written on my paper from my teacher that I remember to this day. One was “letters are too tight and touching,” and the other was that I was “drawing my letters.” This was before cursive. At the time I really had no idea what she meant but I did attempt to open up my letter spacing. Although she was satisfied, I had already begun to develop my own writing style.

Today I have many different writing styles depending on the task and three favorite writing instruments. They are also perfect for sketching out ideas.

The tools I prefer are a Mirado Black Warrior HB2 pencil, Black uni-ball Signo IMPACT 207 and a blue BIC Velocity 1.6. They support my different writing styles and flow perfectly. What tools you use change the art of your penmanship. These give my hand a nice grounding. Of course, no one can live without a Sharpie, but they bleed through and are not good for all writing applications. Each makes a unique statement.

When taking notes I generally use upper and lower case and the letters often run into each other as a combination of print and script. Most often I use all cap architectural handwriting. I am addicted to graph paper.

Some call your signature a John Hancock and it says a lot about your personality traits, as you will find in this article.

http://www.businessballs.com/graphologyhandwritinganalysis.htm

Here are a few more articles of interest if you want to dig deeper.

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-coolest-signatures-in-history-2015-1

http://www.aiga.org/theyre-not-fonts

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/perfect-penmanship-handwriting-reddit-rpenmanshipporn_us_572cf267e4b0bc9cb046cd56

When it comes to designing a brand signature the same applies. It becomes a vital part of your brand identity. Picking the right personality for your brand can make the difference between success and failure. With so many variations to choose from, crafting the right face for your brand is not something to be rushed.

Designers have many things to consider when creating an identity but the brand signature is quite possibly the most important part with the other cast of characters in supporting roles. Whether you are writing by hand or using a computer, choose wisely and put your best face forward.

The Interior and Exterior of Brand Architecture

The Interior and Exterior of Brand Architecture

Trustworthy Branding

I’m looking at things a little differently regarding brand architecture. Brands focus a great deal on the exterior presence of a product or service to capture your attention. The interior is what you see after you decide to buy in. Then it meets or exceeds your expectation or can be quite a letdown.

We have become a very visually oriented society. Getting below the surface complexion of people and brands is now called transparency but it seems like fluff in many regards.

The general appearance of things and their character are two separate identities that need to be given individual attention. Then, when this is fine-tuned, it can become a complete iconic figure. An honest representation inside and out.

If you start with the interior amenities, the exterior takes shape with expressive style that is a complement, not a stand-alone feature.

The interior with its distinctive qualities is the heart of your brand. It is your brand character. Words that describe character offer insight as to how to build a brand from a place of integrity. Use these as a starting point to help you define your offering.

Here are a few:

  • Quality
  • Reputation
  • Specialty
  • Attribute
  • Nature
  • Constitution
  • Motivation
  • Standing
  • Ethos
  • Disposition
  • Personality
  • Spirit
  • Uniqueness
  • Manner
  • Expression
  • Emotions
  • Traits
  • Mood
  • Temperament
  • Individuality

While these are vital, characteristics reflect an even deeper interior view.

  • Essence
  • Flavor
  • Disposition
  • Tendency
  • Predisposition
  • Inclination
  • Distinction
  • Originality

The exterior is your brand complexion, reflecting the tone of your offering. It is how your brand appears at first glance, but it is only skin deep. The general aspect of your positioning will be highlighted with all the essentials showing first. Then you add coloring, hue, texture, tint, cast and style to your appearance to reach the target with genuinely true emotive appeal.

This is not limited to products or services in the brand world. These attributes can be humanitarian. If you build these into all of your social relations with loving care, and show your value as a mindful contributor, the natural outcome will be happy exchange.

You will leave a mark of excellence the world can look up to.

Long-loved Big Boy gets a Makeover.

Big Boy, before and after

I wrote a blog about brands that stand the test of time.

Big Brands that Stand the Test of Time

This mascot is no more. He has a new face.

Other brands have done the same. They change their identity to meet the modern consumer. But what about those of us who have grown up with this brand and loved it just as it was.

Here’s the new look.

Frisch’s Big Boy changes logo for first time in 40 years

Makeover transforms Big Boy into ‘buff boy’

What do you think?

Our Disposable Culture.

Truth or Consequences.

People discard a lot of what they once wanted with little or no understanding of the impact it has on our world. A deal they could not pass up, an impulse buy. Often fueled by boredom, or looking for novelty, they shop till they drop.

Branding, marketing and advertising companies are forever trying to make a consumer feel they must have this or that. Data is so targeted now that it’s likely you bought something today because you thought you wanted or needed it.

Did you really? How long will you be satisfied with your purchase? When will you tire of it and give it away? Do you know what happens to it after donation?

Do you know what resources were used to create that item and its afterlife potential? What is the real life cycle of your desire?

Former purchases end up in lots of places. I do shop second-hand and consignment stores and have noticed they are making a great effort to create a more upscale shopping environment; targeted merchandising, including having separate areas for the vintage and high-end. Many of these centers are for a good cause and help support your community. Not enough is said about the lives they have changed in their positioning. How is my purchase of a sculpture or a vase impacting our world and its people? Have I saved something? The above sculpture was purchased at Recovery Thrift which sponsors Teen Challenge. They provide housing and addiction treatment for youth, a cause I am happy to support.

Don’t get me wrong. I love good brand design, marketing and advertising. It’s my livelihood. I’m just asking you to think about what you buy and why. Transparency is a word that is thrown around a lot these days. But just how transparent are companies being? Should a label include things that might freak people out?

As in ‘this garment was made by a child who worked 18 hours today making 8 cents an hour without a meal break’? Would you still want to buy it? Fast fashion and disposable couture is fostering this kind of reality. How much petroleum or pesticides went into making it? Will it end up in a landfill?

Included are a few links that will help you scratch the surface of this topic.

http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/about/issue.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1964887/

I hope you will take some time to look more deeply into this and find it useful.

Every purchase is a vote for where you want our world to be. It’s a movement of choice. Ownership or loveship.

What I would like to see. Talking point-of-purchase that tells the truth about the consequences of our buying decisions that even the blind can understand. If you can’t read the label what good is it?

This week I went to buy some reading glasses that had a tiny warning label on the turnstile. It said they contained cancer-causing materials in the manufacturing of this item.

How is this possible, that reading glasses are made from cancer-causing ingredients? What about the person who made them?

We all need to pay attention and be mindful of what we buy. The fine print hides lots of shady facts. Look before you leap.

How to Craft a Naming Creative Brief, Part 2

A clear recipe makes all the difference.

A name should tell a story in a few words or less with pure, fresh ingredients.

After all my years of following creative briefs, sometimes veering off the path, just in case I can direct some new thinking, I am starting to want more specific details.

Many briefs are simply not digging deeply enough into the personality and lifestyle of the decision makers. Even the consumer description can be somewhat vague. Yes, data is important, but is it true to the potential name attributes and values you seek to accomplish? Will it meet the taste buds of your customer? Does your proposed name make them hungry or satisfied? What’s in your brand soup? Can you make it more delicious?

I am not always the presenter and privy to an insider’s view of what will work. In short, I don’t know all the ingredients. I’m called in to help without a full recipe. My improv creative skills are excellent, but if the ingredients are called out up front from the creative team chef, I have a greater chance of making it sing.

Some creative briefs are not even about the actual product or company. They are intentionally designed to cull results without the real product represented.

Often what clients ask for and what they end up choosing are completely divergent. Frequently clients choose a name that is completely uncreative and mainstream. They are in a comfort zone. The name feels like a dull kitchen knife cutting a tomato. Mush.

What is creative exploration about? Oftentimes the client has gone through a few rounds of internal creative and found they are not happy with the results.

Then they go outside to find solutions. Ask for the world, and then settle with a name as dry as the Sahara. How about going for a fertile name that breathes life into your venture?

Why hire a naming company when you are going to play it safe and choose names that are comparable to what you did not like in the first place? No nutritional value. No nourishment offered. No original recipe.

As someone who values the creative process, serving my clients with targeted names that are truly original, proffered from deep research and lots of life experience, I am starting to wonder what is really going on when people write these briefs. Busyness can cause people to fall back on a standard script. Perhaps a team of creative brief illuminators would help. Let’s call them ideation editors with a test kitchen. An outside consultant is ideal for this. They see things you may have overlooked. They have a fresh perspective.

A brief should be a recipe. A recipe that has all the ingredients for success built in. It should also fold in the personalities of the team. Like a restaurant, every ingredient adds something to the enjoyment of the experience. The owner, the chefs, the servers, the environment, the music, the amenities, the conversations, the acoustics, the parking. How does a brand name greet your customer? Does your customer smile when they see your brand name? What’s the legend you want your brand name to leave behind? Have you included future generations in your naming brief?

Let’s pretend for a moment you are the customer. Write your brief from this point of view. If you are a decision maker who likes warm weather as opposed to cold, someone who wants to ski rather than surf, someone who is a free spirit or a by-the-book thinker, you are going to influence name selections based on your personal preferences.

Names are not you, but you choose what comes to market. Path to purchase is directly influenced by your teams personality mash-up, and that includes me.

Put people on your team with different perspectives; stir in some feral thinkers. Have fun playing with your team. You already know they are smart, take off the reins. Sometimes a ‘team’ can be one person with multiple perspectives and lot of life experiences. Go with one person for the most cost efficiency and broadest results, someone with all nodes and neurons firing.

I think we need to spend more time getting to know one another before we start naming. Adding in the consumer variable, along with their likes and dislikes, will help create better names that people love.

The best brands don’t always stay on top as the market shifts and loyalty wanes. I recently read a review of ten top brands that are losing their appeal with consumers and why.

The 10 brands America can’t stand anymore

We need to remember we are people, not just consumers. In the moment emotions direct many purchase decisions. Loyalty is not guaranteed. Meeting a customer where they are goes a long way. Point of purchase needs to engage emotions. Making a genuine connection comes in many forms.

When writing a creative brief, add some humanness! Naming results will be more congruent, more engaging and more trustworthy. As a last note, give your team some time to marinate the ideas. Quick on the grill works, but it’s always better if you have prepped ahead with some tasty ingredients and a big dash of culturally authentic flavor. Add yourself into the mix. You matter, and I want to know who you are, what you love, and what you bring to the table.

With all of this emphasis on clean food, make sure your creative brief is not filled with processed prose. Fresh, clean directives result in fresh, clean results.

Salt to taste.

 

Loyalty? Data to Dividend. Who wins?

Loyalty programs should be called Sneaks. It would be more true to form.

Extra postResearching the landscape opened my eyes to what you are really giving and getting. How long do they share your data? Forever!

Profiling shopping habits, super-shopper data, target preference, tracking consumer habits, attractive end-aisles, milk and bread in the back, red=attention, green=fresh/health, blue=trust hormones, yellow/gold evokes hunger. They are all meant to lure you into a discount that may cost you in the long run. Way finders, coupons, specials, you name it….they want to snag your info. They don’t care about you. They care about your data!

Think before you sign up for any rewards program.

You are being invading! Time of purchase, item, credit/debit…there is no such thing as an invisible purchase. They track anything and everything they can. If you give them permission, you can count on being exploited.

Caspian is one group that offers a true-line to your rewards. (Caspian is Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbers.) There are many others. If you check it out online, you will find nothing is sacred.

If you shop counter-clockwise to clockwise it makes a difference.

I say, stop the clock. Pay cash and don’t sign up.

You are sharing your personal information with sneaky sharks. Your info is farmed out and brings nothing valuable to your table.

They count on your emotional involvement to sweep away your privacy.

Look for links that interest you and share with your family and friends.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/loyalty_cards.html
https://www.marketingmag.com.au/hubs-c/ideal-loyalty-program-data

Is your Brand Living in a Webdivision?

  

Is your Brand Living in a Webdivision?

Subdivision developers may use an architect’s services only once, with the rest of the tract houses using the same master template: the resulting houses all look similar.

In my opinion, a lot of web properties are beginning to look like subdivision communities. As more and more companies offer easy web design templates webdivisons are becoming the norm.

I myself use a template, and have done as much as possible to personalize the interior space and create some curb appeal. All of us have our own brand images that give the website its unique look and feel, but overall, many brand websites seems predictably templatized. And some things are fixed to a grid you cannot work around. If you choose to go with a template, having a great coder on the team can make a big difference in customizing your web design and I highly recommend it.

There are many templates to choose from, and a lot of great solutions provided by the companies that serve us. It makes it easy to get your site up and running from the get go. It’s more affordable to create. But, I wonder if we are doing a disservice to our brand and our customers by going this route? Or, do templates help people feel ‘@home’?

As webdivisions proliferate I gloss over things I might not otherwise. I am so used to the web design format and some of the stock icons that it no longer engages me. Customizing your template can solve this. Anything you do to make it your own will go a long way.

Having lived in only one apartment complex in my life, and one subdivision, web design is beginning to feel like this to me. Although the apartment had many amenities, including ocean access, going to all of my friends’ houses in the community was a bit strange. I always ended up in a place pretty much like my own. Sure, some had more bedrooms, vaulted ceilings or a different view, but in the end, it started to feel pretty weird to me. Similarly, subdivision step and repeat patterns leave me cold.

I prefer unique living situations that are sometimes even a bit quirky. I feel the same way about website design. Not quirky as in hard to find what you need, but quirky that expresses fresh and original use of the real estate.

What is the future of web design? I don’t know, but I hope it is something more than ‘YOU ARE HERE, AGAIN’…

Cooking up your brand

  Pepperpostimagecookingbrands

Cooking up your brand.

Try a new recipe with your creative brief.

Writing a good creative brief is a lot like cooking. You shop your competition just like you shop for food, walking the aisles of all your resources; hand selecting what you think are good brand staples you may want to mirror, and those you don’t.

You get all of your ingredients together, prep, and then start cooking.

Sounds simple enough but brand recipes are complex. Depending on how many cooks are in the kitchen, it can even get messy. Everyone has their own taste and style of working; getting on the same page means you have to respect all that is brought to the table.

Many questions arise to be answered. This is where your brand flavor begins. Are you going to brine, use a sauce or prepare a fond broth? What spices do you want to include in your brand?

Certainly you have your main course, but you will also have your sides, desserts and beverages. You have a table to set that may be casual or sophisticated. You may have a centerpiece and table décor to complement the setting. Then you have your guests to consider.

This is where it gets tricky. Your guest experience is going to be the most important part of the brand meal. Making your guest feel welcome is paramount. Flawless table service with right timing is like good grammar and punctuation. People notice.

Inviting interesting guests who will have things in common, but also those who are of different backgrounds and culture will help to keep things lively.

If you think of your creative brief this way, you will be able to determine what goes into the entire brand strategy with a fresh perspective. You will have a beautiful brand to plate, satisfying every touchpoint.

Better yet, no more stale business briefs.

Don’t be afraid to fire it up!

 

The Food Chain of Branding

Go fish.

Strategic brand expressions come from many influencers. Consultants can be your top producers. They bring the freshest ideas to the table.

Where you are in the food chain of branding directly influences what consumers experience.

I’ve been on all sides of the pyramid, and consultants are often left out of the kudos loop. With so many contributors to the brand strategy, things get misinterpreted, diluted, and sometimes directed by unseasoned brand marketing teams. The creative brief is vague, or not well thought out. The food chain of brand creative—the marketing landscape, the brand positioning, the brand narrative, and the brand promotion activities are divvied up. You never know if you are talking to the decision maker or not. Are your ideas even presented?

In nature you have the top-level consumer, the secondary consumer, the primary consumer, the producers and the decomposers. Where do your ideas fit into the brand food chain?

In branding, as with everything, perceptions are unique to the individual. Branding poses a question that seeks the right answer. Branders want to set the hook and get consumers caught up with stories and symbols. They mean well, but without a 360 view of the landscape, an ethos of truth, and meaningfully engaging brand touch-points…it’s just who is the biggest fish.

I’m not always the one to present to the client, and many great ideas have been lost in the shuffle. It’s not always appropriate, or timely, to express why a name or brand theme is relevant. Or why it deserves undivided attention.

What the consumer gets is what can be cleared and registered in a trademark category, who is presenting the solutions, and the interactive communication skills on a specific day.

I have many projects with very short turnaround time, barely enough to scratch the surface of what goes into a great brand name. Depending on where I am in the brand food chain, where others may have had months to work on a naming project, I have a day or two. How does this happen? How can something so important be reduced to a few days of exploration? Still many, many, go to market, and I am pleased to have created them, either direct to client or through an agency.

Thankfully, I am hardwired, and easily inspired to name. I have no problem coming up with great names in a very short period of time, although I do prefer having time for deep research. It proffers names I would never have thought of otherwise. Great names can come in an instant, but having time to explore is optimum.

Exploring opens up opportunities for brand names that are not just quickly constructed, but deep in meaning. Smart names that people fall in love with and trust for good reason.

I recommend clients hire a seasoned brand team, including both big picture thinkers and detail experts. This is where consultants are extremely valuable. They see white space, and bring solutions to your brand you may not have thought of. Professionals with years of experience are a worthwhile investment of your resources.

Your customers want brands that are not just words in a sea of words. They want fresh ideas that hook the heart on joyful experiences. Brands that are simple to understand but offer an expanding adventure.

It’s all about Whee!

The Green Light to Go Barter

Open for Barter. Meeting in the middle.

Green OutlineBarter Art3

Being in branding is a whole new animal then when I started. It seems the market is flooded with creative branding experts both as companies and independents. Budgets have been cut drastically and the value of contributors is dwindling.

As I read the news, and listen to the buzz on social, it seems like a lot of people are scrambling for a piece of the pie, which is now in the sky.

What to do? I propose barter. I’m sure you have clients and friends who frequently ask for your help but offer nothing in return. They want referrals, free consulting, images, art, logos, concepts, names, and just about anything they can get from you.

They are desperate. Money has been tight. They are not sure how they are going to continue their business. Again I say…get bartering. If you are approached by someone who wants something, unless you want to give it freely, ask for a barter.

We all have something to offer. If cash is not flowing, start giving. But, do it with a twist. I suggest asking for what you want, or need in return. Quit giving yourself away.

In light of this, I am offering barter. It’s going to have to be fair trade. But, I am at least open to it. Pro-Bono is fine if you want to volunteer, but for anything else—ask for something in return. Use this incentive.

Best of Barter. Your time for my time.

Make an offer and we’ll both get our needs met. It’s a valuable option for those with or without cash. As we move into the future of commerce, Namelink is leading the way.

For people who have needs, and are always helping others without pay, this makes perfect sense!

If you have cash, that’s great. I expect it paid on time, no excuses. Getting 50% minimum up-front for the deliverables is mandatory, unless we have made special arrangements or you provide a retainer. The balance is due on delivery. Again, no tikie no washi.

No other businesses allow you to walk out of the store without paying. Cash or credit is up to you. Barter is a good business alternative.

Now, you have a choice. Make me an offer I can’t refuse, and put it in writing. Or, get ready to pony-up the cash.