Stop Making Your Brand About You
Erik Quigley

SCENARIO: You have hired Company X to create your brand. The project is underway and you are shown a palette and typeface options for feedback. But Houston, we have a problem - you are frustrated because the colors and fonts don’t resonate with you.And guess what? That doesn’t matter.

Because you are not your client

We sometimes find it difficult to understand that our preference is just that – our own. We want to shout from the rooftops that a certain Matcha Green Tea Gelato is the bees knees. Except the other guy is turning his nose up and sniffing for the Double Fudge Soft Serve

When it comes to creating a brand, or any design project, you are not always (sometimes, but rarely) your ideal client. So basing your look and feel on what you like doesn’t work. Your customers have their own lens through which they see and understand the world. It’s your job (and any agency’s) to resonate within that lens by making purposeful decisions that support their needs.

A Note on Target: These are the folks you should aim to know as intimately as possible. They are your decision-makers. And not to worry, they don’t find it a burden. Design decisions should be made from standing in the shoes of the consumer. What speaks to them? What do they find appealing? What will help them solve their problem.

But what about me?

There’s no denying that you should love your brand. It’s your baby, you’re with it day in and day out and you’ve earned the right to dress it the way you want to, right? The answer is: Almost.

As a business owner, you know that in order to make money, you need to appeal to an audience – you want to appeal to an audience. Without a customer base, you won’t gain sales. It’s a basic concept. So, it’s safe to say that consumers are your number one priority. Trust us, money in your pocket will make you feel much better than which shade of blue “spoke to you”.

So it is about you…but for that to happen, it must be about them.

How to stop making it about you

Here are four ways to stay unbiased:

  1. Stay objective. We all need a bit of a self-check once in a while. Before making any final judgements or rash requests, ask yourself: Is this personal to me? Is this decision emotionally charged? Does it meet my business objectives? Does it speak to my target audience? You’ll be surprised at how a little self-reflection can go a long way.
  2. Remember it’s not about you. Straight up. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it one hundred more. Focus should remain on your target and business goals. If, by those standards, something doesn’t feel right speak up. If not, see number 3.
  3. Listen to the professionals. Would you go to a doctor, have her examine you and then diagnose yourself using WebMD? We hope not. This is the same with your design professionals. You hired them for a reason. Allow them to do what they do best – make you look good.
  4. Ask questions. Instead of jumping to why you don’t like something, seek to understand first. Ask questions about the thought process. Ask your agency or designer where they originated an idea or choice. Ask how a choice speaks to your target or brand. This will help you better relate to your design professionals and create a better working relationship.

Truthfully, these are easier said than done and a struggle for most people. We all have our preferences. Creating the intention is the first step. It’s all downhill from there.

Education is key

People don’t know what they don’t know. Perhaps you know very little about design or a lot about branding. Then again, perhaps you don’t. Either way, one of the most effective ways of doing your part to create killer design work or a successful brand is to understand where the professionals are coming from. When you understand why they do what they do, you can more easily put personal likes and dislikes aside and look at any project more objectively.

Learn what you don’t know. Learn why it matters. In any situation, never stop learning.

Post Script: A Designer's Challenge (a soapbox sermon)

As a final note, please do designers everywhere a favor – please do not make us your tug of war rope.

More often than not, designers become caught between client’s preference and the client’s audience needs. You can imagine how much fun that is. It adds stress and frustration, ultimately strangling a bit of our buzz. We like our buzz, please don’t kill it. It is our job, and why you hired us, to take into consideration all aspects of your business. That includes you, your client and your goals to formulate the best possible outcome. After all, as we said, you want to appeal to those people who want to give you money, right? Right.

Thanks, we feel better now.

Are you ready to be Uncommon? Apply to work with us.

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Developed by Mayank Bhama


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For media or press inquiries, skip the line and email us directly at