Why Branding Yourself is SO Hard


When people start a new business they want a logo to start their road to success. That’s only one step, albeit in the right direction but as it takes two legs, working together to move forward, a logo has to be tied into your business branding. There are many discussions on a logo vs. a brand. I can assuredly write that the two are intertwined but still two different things. When you start your business, you will need both.

A logo is, quite simply, your signature; your name; the symbol by which people will identify you at first or second sight. If you were a sweater, it would be your label.

A brand is who you are as a person or company. Are you fun and frivolous? Are you service-oriented with a thousand-year history of service? If you were a sweater, your brand would be how you feel when being worn. Stiff and scratchy or warm and soft?

A Logo That Speaks the Brand

The logo, of course, reflects the brand. When you look at these brands, what do you FEEL?

AT&T is a global communications company. The logo reflects the brand and tells you they are large, trusted, global and established.


Coke has a fun, liquid logo that is classic, familiar and friendly. It gives you comfort and although it appears in a thousand different languages around the world, it is always recognizable and trusted.


Apple has the logo that speaks of a very different product from years of battling PCs. Who in the world would use a piece of fruit for a computer company? Some young visionaries who chose to be different and challenge the status quo, and did it extremely well.


Some argue that upper management has changed the brand via their personal quirks and business decisions. That is the trap of the brand. The brand is almost a personality and when it changes, it can destroy the trust people have built upon it. To some people, it’s like losing your true love.

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Sure, a fun brand isn’t for everyone. Pentagram, for instance, is a design firm that describes itself as, “the world’s largest independent design consultancy.” The firm is owned and run by 16 partners, a group of friends who are all leaders in their individual creative fields, that works in London, New York, Berlin and Austin. Their name, “Pentagram,” hasn’t seemed to hurt their reputation as some might see it as a symbol of witchcraft or followers of the devil.

Proctor and Gamble has had problems with their logo portraying the same thing with accusations that the image is “Satanic.”


Alfa Romeo has the same problem with the “serpent devouring a man” logo. Sometimes an ancient symbol just doesn’t translate well to modern times with no serfdoms or fiefdoms. Go figure!


Really horrible logos – click here

One savvy friend admits to his first badly thought-out brand. “I was briefly ‘HollowPoint Design — Graphics with Stopping Power.’ My teacher told me not to.”

By the same token, logos and brands with mutilated animals, like “Dead Dog Design,” “One-Eyed Kitty” or “Mutilated Cattle Studio” (yes, they are or were real names) just doesn’t say “fun,” “cute” or “reliable” to a prospective client. Too many animal lovers out there and your chances of landing the PeTA or Humane Society account is fairly slim unless a relative is the executive director.

Just using your own name; “J. Person Co.,” is safe but is it memorable? You might have a common name, which won’t help people find you when they say, “I remember meeting someone but lost their card. I guess I can Google “J. Person” and find them. The same can be said of a brand name. I have a friend who called his firm “Creativille.” A very cool concept and he billed himself as the “Mayor.” If you Google it, you will find at least 14 other firms with the same name.

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At one large corporation, the head of creative would only use freelancers who had a company name that “wasn’t their name.” He felt that it gave the corporation more prestige to use freelance sources that sounded like “big studios.” He was also a crazy as the day was long and the pay was low. It’s not something you will or should run up against. I only mention it because there are opinionated people out there and names do matter to them.

As with any business, you must research your company name, brand, logo and then legally protect the entire thing. I don’t know if my friend had the first “Creativille” but he surely hasn’t had the last. A registered trademark, although expensive, would have helped. The costs, can be cut back with some search work on your own and filing paperwork without an attorney. There are also services that do the work for less than an attorney will charge but down the line, if you have a large company, you won’t want to rename and rebrand yourself because little Timmy has a lemonade stand his father registered as a birthday present.

Who Are YOU? Only You Know

Don’t ask your family or other creatives what they think of your branding and logo ideas. Your family will say “very nice” and your art school friends will think the pile of skulls with a computer mouse tying them together is “the coolest thing ever!” Just because you like fast cars and scantily clad women doesn’t mean a professional business will, unless you want to do Manga Anime work. If it is, your logo IS “the coolest!”

There are always exceptions to the rules with branding. Designer, Craig Yoe, has turned his name and love of products for kids into a fun brand. He creates “Yo-gos” and other things into which his name can be twisted. He has a definite love of what he prefers to do and runs his brand accordingly.

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With the growing medical (and now growing legal) marijuana industry in the United States, I suppose someone could include a marijuana leaf in their logo and brand themselves as “High Standards, Inc.” Part of their brand, I suppose, is not getting paid in money.

Sometimes, people change. Circumstances change. It was a near-death motorcycle accident that changed my ability to use my hands to draw and made me seek the comfort of a computer mouse. A famous composer who lost an arm in combat specialized in writing piano pieces for one hand. Many famous painters didn’t pick up a brush until much later in life. Winston Churchill was in his sixties when he became Prime Minister of England. Sometimes we change for necessity and sometimes out of pure desire. Recreating your brand is not unforgiving. Reinventing yourself happens to people every day.

The Volkswagen logo, first designed during the Nazi rule of Germany had to work quickly to distance themselves from their distasteful roots. Today, their vehicles are seen as safe family and sporty cars with no inclination to drive into Poland and take over.


There may come a day you realize you have made a mistake with your brand. You can correct it. Sometimes life throws you a curve. You can steer along with it and come out the other side. Sometimes you just want to try something else. Every day is new, so why not mimic nature and be the butterfly? Just don’t do it too often or the unused business cards from your last brand(s) will take up too much storage or landfill space.

Top image ©GL Stock Images


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