Something has been on my mind for a while, and I’ve waited to write it because I have no data for this theory that’s been formulating in my mind, and haven’t had time to research to see if there is corroborating data somewhere out there that I can give you.
Here’s my theory: we sell what we see. First, a little background so you know where all this is coming from. During 2009 I became involved in various business ventures… I launched Twitterface, my web-based Twitter client. I went away from a company name I had used for some years (this one, Fresh ID) and set up We Heart Studios with a lot of cute, focused names associated with it like We Heart Tumblr and We Heart WordPress. I created a long-needed “personal brand” for my pithy musings that have nothing to do with business. That brand got a lot of attention online for some reason, but it doesn’t really communicate what I do. I helped LightThread (who we partner with on lots of projects) as we tried to get more work here in the Kansas City area – in fact, we almost launched yet another new brand to focus on integrated marketing, then pulled back from that. All of these things have been competing for my attention.
So coming into December, I had a lot on my mind… and I felt disconnected from my own company branding. I am a little mystified regarding the way people view me and how few people know what I actually do – I am mostly on “marketing” or “social media” lists on Twitter, which is so vague. That’s unsettling as someone who needs to make money from creative services, and mostly enables social media from a technology perspective, rather than being a speaker on it or author or something. In short, I felt I needed a brand overhaul and continuity, something I both relate to because it typifies me, and can use in a corporate setting to do what I do to earn a living. This can be hard for a creative type – we like so many things. But what I resonated with most is my old company name, Fresh ID… I have had a company with the name “Fresh” in the title since about 1997. After some thought I realized I needed to commit to it fully, with my whole being, and so I have finally made Fresh ID an LLC and am in the process of rebranding everything to fall in line with my core offering.
What has this to do with you? Well, I want you to think about something. In the day-to-day, sort of always online life that many of us now lead – a true mix of business and pleasure at all times, what is it you’re looking at, physically? Are you looking at other people’s brands more than your own? This may seem unimportant, but consider for a minute: do you see branding for Twitter, Tweetdeck, Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. more than yours? And if so, what are you focused on? Do you have a brand that represents you both online and in printed materials to give people? Whether you’re self-employed or work for a company, is that brand and all it stands for top-of-mind and in your face, every day? And if so, do you love it? Do you get the value behind the words and colors and images? Does it stand up well next to competitors? Is it vibrant and exciting to you, or stale and outdated, or non-existent? Are you proud of the brand you represent, so much so that it’s part of your life pretty much 24/7/365 days a year and you want to share it with people?
Because my theory is, we sell people on what is most present in our lives. This is where I wish I had some numbers or studies to give you, but I don’t. All I have is my own semi-psychological nature and human factors observations to offer… really, just an intuition about this. I think that with my personal branding being most present for me, and my various other ventures being dabbled in and scattered around all over the internet, I was unfocused when it came to a unified message. So I have taken steps to bring my own brand into alignment with what I can do for people (intelligent design with a universal view), what I can offer (lots of creative/tech/socialization services) and what lights me up (making products.) And I’m really, really excited about it. I have some visuals of my new branding to show you, and will do a dissection in another post of how I created the Fresh ID brand and the various elements I used, for those who are interested and want to do something similar for themselves, or at least want to understand the visual dynamics of a strong brand.
Below are Fresh ID-branded Twitterface & Twitter pages & a Ning Workspace design (we’re going to try using it in private mode to manage projects) plus a prototyped business card, which you’ll see all complement this site and blog design:
This site you’re in right now is the umbrella for all I will focus on in 2010. It’s not quite finished, so bear with me, but this is where my blog is now, and it has its own little name, The Arboretum. I like to think of The Arboretum as being where we can all hang out, discuss, think and learn from each other. I have moved my Design for Users blog into this site so that I can share all the thoughts I have on user experience and customer care, as well as point to the products we offer, show portfolio pieces, list services and explain our differentiator, since we are primarily a B2B services company.
Twitterface is going through some changes and we will be changing its name eventually (partly due to Twitter’s request that product names not contain the word Twitter in them.) And of course I will continue to work on projects with my friends at LightThread. But this is going to help me focus on what’s truly important and enable me to keep my own brand top-of-mind in the coming year.
This was my best decision so far, because bringing everything into this one business site is going to ensure I am in and out of my own company site much more than I was before. (I will keep my personal tumblr for playing, talking about cooking, music and other personal passions, etc.) We will be going further with this idea, as we develop ID Clouds (more on what that is later) that makes working online more pleasant and keeps us in our branded environment, because I truly believe we are selling what we see.
What do you think? What are you looking at everyday? Is your focus as sharp and your mission on target? If not, let’s talk about it and get you on the right path. If you have a brand you love and are proud of, share it with us so we can learn from what you’re doing!