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Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

I’ve had thousands of emails from people, all asking the same thing. What is the difference between a brand, branding, and brand strategy?

Errr. well, not thousands. Actually none. But still, I see countless commentaries on social media channels revealing glaring misconceptions about what those terms actually mean.

Unless you work in the industry, I think it would be safe to say that you probably use those terms interchangeably. More alarming than that though, even some industry experts confuse or frankenstein those terms together.

This was partially why both myself, Stef Hamerlinck, Rob Meyerson, and Reagan McKrill have formed the Big Brand Debate. So that we can discuss topics such as these live on air, with other people able to contribute their voices.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my eighteen years in the industry is that design is not art

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Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

Design needs to help solve a particular problem — usually a business one. And we need to become more aware and considerate about that. Brand Strategy is one way how we can marry design and business results more efficiently.

If, as a designer, you had a client dismiss your perfect design concept and were told to start again, you may have just met a client from hell. …

A man recording sound at the beach
A man recording sound at the beach
Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Identifying a unique and relevant tone of voice for a brand helps to attract (and keep) customers, and should be part of any brand strategy.

What do M&M’s and Old Spice have in common? They are quirky and fun — we all remember those hilarious and entertaining ads by both brands.

But M&M’s has always been about projecting their witty and entertaining Jester Archetype. Whereas Old Spice had to reinvent themselves to stop losing their market share to the likes of Axe (known as Lynx in Australia, the UK, and other parts of the world) and other big players.

Fading out into a cloud of old grandpa smell, Old Spice recognised that to avoid becoming irrelevant, they needed to target a younger generation.

They have…

Apple laptop and phone on a dark background
Apple laptop and phone on a dark background
Photo by Bhaumik Shrivastava on Unsplash

Apple is a great example of a company that understands the value of branding. Lessons can be learned by examining how they position their offering as something more than a product.

Let me ask you a question. If Apple disappeared tomorrow, would you care? Now, I’m sure that for every Apple fanboy and fangirl out there, there is an equal amount of Apple haters. And there are plenty of other competitors providing very similar kinds of products. But very few of the others can match the type of brand loyalty like Apple has created.

The reality is, that if Apple went away, all those Android-based users would be just as happy to choose a Samsung, or a Google Pixel or any of the other half a dozen alternatives. …

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Photo by Bonneval Sebastien on Unsplash

So you’ve decided to take the plunge. Open up that business. Dive into that side-hustle. Setup that online store or launch that product. And you quickly realise that you need a logo or a brand identity designed for your new endeavour.

It can be hard to know where to begin and what to expect from a logo design process. Especially as your head is still spinning from planning out your services and business structure.

I know from my own experience, setting up a new business can be an incredibly exciting time. But it can also be a stressful time because you need to think of so many things.

So I have put together this indicative Brand Identity Design process guide for your reference so that you can breathe more evenly and have one less unknown to stress about.

Here are some…

Person standing on an elevated view
Person standing on an elevated view
Photo by Sharon Christina Rørvik on Unsplash

Even if you’re not amidst a global pandemic, branding is usually not the first thing that business owners think about.

Certainly, branding can be a big investment to consider. And the benefits are not always clear. But what is branding and branding strategy in a nutshell, and how could it help in a dire situation we’re facing now?

Most of us know that branding is not just a pretty logo.

It’s a strategic plan for your business. A map that outlines weak spots, strengths, opportunities, and more. It might not help predict the next COVID-19, but it will help you keep driving your business forward when you’re faced with the unknown. …

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Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

As creators, in order to keep our creativity flowing, we need inspiration. Ironically, without inspiration, it’s hard to create. It’s a closed-loop.

Musicians need to keep creating new music and new sounds. Artists need to paint, doodle and draw. Designers need to create logos and websites. And writers need to… well, you get the gist.

So how do you initiate the creativity loop if inspiration is lacking in the first place?

To induce inspiration and create something new we have to be able to:

  • Connect with our inner self and our inner voice
  • Relate to the world that surrounds us at large
  • Channel those combined experiences to manifest something new

Most of the time, we are inspired by external experiences that come…

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Photo by Pien Muller on Unsplash

Visual identity, logo and brand personality are a great way to differentiate your brand, but in the new world of voice assistants, is it enough?

You have heard me talk about the importance of crafting a meaningful logo, as well as building a cohesive and complete visual brand system. These are the cornerstone elements to ensure that your brand image is consistent and it accurately represents your business.

But have you considered how audio branding might improve the effectiveness of your brand?

Yes, it’s true that to build a memorable and strong brand that customers will flock to, your brand visuals need to be professional and engaging. And most importantly they have to be appealing to your specific target audience.

However, the visual aspect of…

A lesson from 15+ years of experience in design

Man sketching design ideas in a notebook
Man sketching design ideas in a notebook
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Now, that’s a strong statement, I know. But after 15+ years as a designer, I’ve been able to identify a much more effective approach to logo design.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to work with some stellar clients. The work is always varied, from logo design to websites, stationery to brochure design, and more. I like to think that I’m quite decent at designing, so most projects have gone well for me and the teams I’ve worked with and lead.

But there were also some major failures.

And the major cause of all of those fails? Designing something…

Man standing on top of a building
Man standing on top of a building
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

There’s a really big myth in life. They say follow your passion and you will become successful. As a career and business strategy, this advice is flawed.

That advice can lead to a sense of entitlement and poor work ethic, as well as depression when reality doesn’t quite match up to your dream career.

What I’ve learned is that passion can materialise after you get stuck into working on something and focus on becoming really good at it. Having a passion for something and being able to make a career out of it are two very different things. It’s not impossible but quite rare.

I’ve written about being lucky and finding my passion and my calling early. …

Ilya Lobanov

I help ambitious designers level-up their skills through online courses. I also run, where I build better brands for small businesses to be heard.

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