Of Ugly Art, Brand Creation & Purpose
What do you imagine when you hear the word "art"? Something aesthetic? A sophisticated, joyful and meaningful creation? May be you start thinking of great artists, painters, sculptors and musicians. When you think art, you think great art. Not average or bad art. You dont see the shabbily sketched mountain-sun-river drawn by a 5 year old with crayon. But that "thing" exists too. And it may even be highly appealing, aesthetic and joyful - to the parent. For rest of the world, it could be plain ugly. For every Mozart symphony, theres a wannabe musician making ears bleed. The fact is, anybody can create art. It may not feel great to everyone else. It may not really work when its out there in the world. But it sure makes someone feel "happy".
When starting a venture, many founders and enterpreneurs are prone to creating such (ugly) art in the form of their Brand. Brand Creation is a business critical process. It can make or break your business. But the super charged enterpreneurs, who have found the world altering big idea, tend to let the brand get created on the go, as dictated by tactical demands of the business. They still love it, because its theirs. Nothing wrong with that. But if OK isn't good enough, you may need to give it more thought.
Brand Creation & Art
Not all of Brand Creation is art. In fact most of it goes beyond the realms of Art-Science binary. But a few fundamentals overlap. For eg - "Happiness", and resonance with spirit, is key to creating a great brand. Who does the brand make happy, when and how, lays out the future path for business. And it can be planned and perfected. Art is also about nuance. Theres detailing, and theres an inherent inexplicable logic to everything. Do all individual elements fit and feel right? Do they still make sense when you zoom out and appreciate them as a whole? Brand Creation is as nuanced. Focusing on each element individually, without losing sight of the bigger picture, makes the entire output more fulfilling and robust.
3 Filter Approach For Brand Decisions
So how does one go about deciding what will work? The first step of Brand Creation decision making is, that it must resonate with your own spirit. Your mind as well as your heart should say yes to the unique mix of "essence, name, colors, symbols, fonts" that represents your brand. It doesn't matter what rationale or spiel is being given. If you don't love it, chances are neither will your customers. The process can not start with them. It has to start with you. However, it will also work only when you have a very simple and clear idea about why (or why dont) you love it.
Second step is to align your happiness with that of everyone who affects the brand, and is crucial to bringing it to life. The management, core team, advisors and investors - those involved in giving birth to the brand must feel it work. This is where a sense of purpose becomes critical. Purpose binds the team and the brand together. This purpose can be an organisational or business purpose also. As long as the brand fits and operates within the context of the larger purpose, it will work.
Its only after the first two steps are clear, that we come to those who the brand affects. The consumer, trade partners, employees and business community, will all be affected by the brand in different ways. This set of people is different from those who have "affected" the brand so far. These are the last filter to your brand creation process. The consumers who will use the brand need clarity on utility, and an emotional connect. The employees need to feel proud. The channel partners must feel confident that it will work, and so on. You can manage this be being crystal clear on how is the brand supposed to affect each of the stakeholders individually.
To summarise, heres the 3 filter test of which brand idea to take forward -
Filter one - Do yo love it; and do you know why?
Filter two - Is the core team aligned to it?
Filter three - Will your customers and stakeholders get what they expect?
The order of the three filters is critical. Many decision makers tend to start with what the market and consumers expect. Then get the core team aligned. And finally the founders take a call. This approach can be a strain on resources. Asking people what they want is easy. The toughest part is figuring out what do you really want the brand to be. There are times we go about life doing things, without really knowing why we are doing them. A deep sense of purpose can help align our actions in a fulfilling way. Start with having a clear purpose of your business. This clarity will fuel the brand process and make it effective, fulfilling and lean on resources.
Creating a brand is a lot like creating a work of art.
Anyone can do it, but only a few get it right.
Finding ENKI has created over 80 brands so far.