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Create a Brand Without an Expiration Date

We’re already a week into 2022.

Overwhelmed yet? 

Your inbox probably is.

With every new year comes the same slew of email newsletters, promotions, and articles. You know the ones. They go a little something like this:

Everything you thought was cool in 2021? Yeah, that’s garbage now. Clear out your content calendars, your closets, and just about everything else, and make way for the hottest new trends of 2022! 

There’s nothing wrong with trend forecasting. Hell, we do it too! The thing is, if it’s that hard to keep up your wardrobe with the latest trends, you can imagine how hard (not to mention unsustainable) it would be to keep up your brand.

Here’s the good news. Your brand is not suddenly irrelevant because of your logo’s serif typeface or illustrative graphic style (although if your graphics are as deep as your sense of brand goes, it’s probably worth addressing). Your brand will be irrelevant faster than a Tik Tok trend if you hop on the annual bandwagon. 

The graphic design community is every bit as fickle as any other creative industry. But I think it’s safe to assume you’re in the business of building a brand that lasts a lifetime, not a year, or a season. We sure are. In order to do that, you have to chase insights and strategy, not trends. 

Get off the wagon and start your brand off right in 2022 with these insight-driven tips:

Start With Vision

How many serotonin-chasing impulse purchases have you made over the years (looking at you, Black Friday) only to receive them and never touch them, or worse, hate them? Not every trend is for everyone.

As a leader, you’re constantly facing new opportunities and challenges, making decisions that will undoubtedly influence your business for better or worse. In order to make the decisions that will ultimately guide you toward success, you have to define what success looks like. Building a brand that goes the distance requires knowing what awaits you at the finish line. 

So think bigger. What is your final destination? What gives your work meaning? What impact are you here to create for yourself, your customer, the world? 

By grounding your brand in the bigger picture, you’ll have a north star to guide you through the storm of countless decisions and ever-changing trends and can more confidently chart your path forward.

Uncover Your Niche, and Stick to It

The new year is as good a time as any for some old-fashioned reflection. Now that you’ve meditated on your higher purpose, it’s now time to uncover whether your current brand is setting you up to reach it. 

As businesses grow and evolve, added clutter and complexity are unavoidable. Throw in the constant need to adapt to evolving business, social, and cultural landscapes, and there’s no wonder you’re in a tizzy. But be warned, falling into the cycle of haphazardly reacting instead of intentionally responding is a dangerous game. What starts as an internal lack of focus now has your customers wondering what exactly you bring to the table, or worse, what you even stand for. 

A great brand is three things: clear, concise, and consistent.

So go back to your roots. Have you lost sight of your purpose? Has it evolved? Is there a dead weight that’s weighing your business down, or getting in the way of your long-term opportunities and goals? It’s a harsh reality to face, but perhaps it’s time to consider cutting it off.

Find Your Voice

Now that you know what you have to say, the next step is to define how you say it. Branding is all about perception, so how do you want to be perceived? 

The foundation established in defining your brand’s unique position and strategy helps to uncover two key elements of brand perception: archetype and personality. Archetypes are a tool to thematically draw the heart of your brand (your essence and core values) to the surface – creating the outline to your story and a more tangible framework for your brand’s overall identity. A supporting set of 5 or 6 descriptors – your brand personality – helps to further define and differentiate your visuals and voice from competitors. These elements help to establish a set of baseline standards for your brand’s look and feel, setting a consistent, distinct foundation for your brand’s design and messaging.

Whether it’s your visual language or your brand’s voice and tone, the way you connect with your consumer is far too critical to your success to be dictated solely by what’s trending. Trends may very well have an influence on your design and messaging but should be treated as a thoughtful component of a greater overarching strategy – not the driving force. In discovering who your brand is at its core, you create a more meaningful baseline for your brand’s identity that will carry you far past your favorite trend’s expiration date.

Ready to build a brand that stands the test of time? Download a copy of our signature Brand Thinkbook!

Phoenix Branding Thinkbook
By Lauren Carr-Gasso Dec 22, 2021
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