You can’t rush quality. I’ve heard that saying so many times and seen it in so many places, that I don’t even know who should get credit for it — if you happen to know who said it first, please let me know! In this week’s episode, I talk about the current obsession with instant gratification, and why it’s not a great approach to take when building a brand.
TL;DR — episode links:
- Brand Boost
- Free 5-day micro course: Brand values, not bland values!
- That 🔥 post by Nik Goodner (and a hat tip to Tracy Stanger for making me aware of it!)
I’m recording this in 2022, in the midst of information overload. Technology is at a level where what used to take hours, days, or even weeks or months to achieve, is now just a click away. Back in the day — and we’re talking decades, not centuries — if we wanted something, we had to be prepared to wait for it. I’m old enough to remember when email wasn’t a thing and we had to wait for an actual handwritten letter in the post, the phone was connected to the wall and we had to either memorise phone numbers or look them up in a huge fuckin’ printed catalogue — and if people didn’t pick up, we couldn’t just send a text to say “Hey, call me asap, it’s pretty urgent!” Back when I was at uni — to get my actual degree, in the time before anyone could whip up a certification programme and churn out “qualified brand strategists” in 6 months or less — if I wanted to use an isolated image with a transparent background in one of my designs, I had to crank open an early version of Photoshop and pray to a god I’ve never believed in that it wouldn’t crash on me, and painstakingly apply a layer mask by hand. Now? There’s a button for that. Click. Done. We created our concept design presentations on mounting boards, with spray mount (that got everywhere!), and it took days because we also had to go and get everything printed out at the uni’s copy shop! Now? Canva, baby! You can whip up a snazzy looking presentation in minutes — and share it with your team across the globe instantly in your virtual meeting room.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tech. I love new gadgets, I love that my life gets easier. But I don’t love how along the way we somehow forgot to take our time on tasks that really need time to percolate.
I see it all the time, across all industries: people are chasing after results, and they want them NOW. “I need a full rebrand, and a full visual identity system, and some branded templates — and I need it ready to go in three weeks!”
When did we, and I say we because I’m not immune to this, get so impatient?!
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but: you simply cannot rush through the process of creating a brand from scratch, or complete a full rebrand in three weeks. And don’t even get me started on the VIP days that are taking the online business world by storm these days. I mean, sure. Technically it’s possible to do the actual work in three weeks, but you’ll end up with a result that’s below par.
Why? Because of the processes that have to happen before and during the execution phase. The planning. The strategy. The iterations. The brand foundations that are supposed to be… literally the foundations of the external representation of your brand. These things take time — as they should.
I tried the VIP day thing, you know. Could it really be the magic pill I was seeking? Ha! I nearly choked on that pill. Not only did I end up exhausted after the actual day, I was stressing out about it for the days leading up to the main event too. And afterwards: I resented that I could not deliver to the best of my ability. Sure, my clients were happy and I did what I could given the setting. But afterwards I’d be beating myself up because I knew how much better the final result would have been if we had given the project the time and breathing space it needed. And I’d end up doing additional work just to make myself feel better. I know, that one’s on me, but still.
(I still have a done-in-a-day offer by the way. But not a full brand in a day, because it’s just not sustainable for anyone.)
I had some pushback that my brand strategy group programme was too long too. Six modules, in 12 weeks — could it not be done in six weeks?! Again, technically speaking, it could. You could grab the accompanying workbook and rush through it in a day if you wanted, but that’s not the point. In order to lay down lasting brand foundations, you need to do a lot of deep, internal work. You need to ask yourself who you are, what you truly believe in, why your work in the world matters, who you want to serve. Big questions. You’re bound to feel some resistance as you work on these fundamental pieces of your brand. That is why time is so crucial: time is what allows these expansive ideas and visions to… expand. When you trust the process, when you allow yourself the time to walk away from the process and return to it after letting those thoughts mature, that is when the magic happens. That’s where the real value of working on your brand comes from.
And that’s what I am worried we’re going to lose along the way, if we keep chasing instant results.
My clients come to me, eager to get their brands off the ground asap. They wonder why it will take 8-12 weeks. And I get that! It’s good to be excited about getting your brand into the world. Some people go elsewhere, to someone who will complete the process faster, and that’s ok. But the clients who end up working with me, almost without exception, tell me that they’re glad I made them take their time. They have some real eye openers along the way. Many find that they want even more time to complete the preliminary strategy work. Some of them end up thinking about their brand in an entirely different way and standing out because of it. Imagine if we had rushed that process. I’d be basing the implementation phase (in my case that’s the design of the actual visual brand identity, the visual representation of the brand) on assumptions and guesswork. That’s not what I want for my clients!
I want my clients to have a brand identity that works for them, not against them. After all, it’s supposed to be a business tool, not just a good-looking piece of eye candy.
As for the creative process that takes place after the strategy is done and dusted, that can’t be rushed either.
I recently came across an IG post by Nik Goodner, that I think explains this well:
“Creatives need time where nothing is produced, but a war of ideas is being fought inside their head.”
“If you’re working with creatives, you need to respect the ideation process and know it will result in nothing being produced, but work is still being done.”
Yes! This is exactly how it is. A hat tip to my friend Tracy Stanger, who shared Nik’s post in her stories, btw.
The creative process is different from a production process, in that the true value lies in the “idle” time. Yet the production phase of a creative project relies heavily on the invisible work that was done initially. This isn’t true just for branding either. So for instance, in a company that produces… any product really, the production manager might look at the design team and think that they’re wasting valuable time “just sitting around, brainstorming, and moving pixels around” — the creative director will understand that their team are not in fact wasting time, the creative team are creating what the production team needs in order to be productive.
In a typical brand design project, there are several phases:
- The research and strategy phase (where my client plays a crucial part, and I’m mostly there to offer guidance and coaching)
- The ideation phase (where I visualise the strategic foundations into a moodboard to ensure my client and I are on the same page about the overall visual direction)
- The concept development phase (where I develop several concepts based on the approved moodboard)
- The production phase (where I produce logo files and other brand assets based on the chosen and approved design concept)
- The implementation phase (where the brand, both the visuals and the intangible elements, is launched into the world and applied across all touchpoints)
And in between each of these phases, we have iterations. The client provides feedback, we discuss and tweak, before moving onto the next phase. And even after the brand is launched, you’re not done. A brand is (or at least it should be!) in constant evolution, as it reacts and responds to external and internal changes.
So really, we’re looking at: research → iterations → strategy → iterations → ideation → iterations → concept development → iterations → production → iterations → implementation → iterations.
Tell me again that you can do all this in three weeks and still deliver a top notch end product? (Remember, you also need to sleep, eat, and have some time left over to have a life.)
It’s a bit of a rant, this. But I just want to be a counterweight to the fast-paced hamster wheel, and advocate for a return to seeing time as a creator of value.
Whether you’re new to business and this is your first time building a brand from scratch, or you’re a seasoned business owner who was seduced by the thought of instant gratification and later realised that you rushed past all the good parts in the process: this episode was for you.
This is your permission slip
Not that you need one, but this is your permission slip to let go of the hustle and grind. Take a deep breath, unstick your shoulders from your earlobes, stop listening to the fast-action-or-nothing crew — and start building your brand from the inside out, step by step, in a purposeful, deliberate, sustainable way.
That is all. Petchy out.
PS! Before you go, I have something for you.
If you’re a regular around here, you already know that I’m an advocate for values driven branding, which is why I have created a five day email course to help you step away from the generic and define heartfelt and bold brand values that truly resonate with your people.
Your brand values are an excellent opportunity to stand out because now more than ever, people want to buy from brands that stand for something beyond just their own success. And that gives you an opportunity to stand out by wearing those values on your sleeve. But if your brand values are not distinct enough, you may as well not bother. The more generic your values are, the less value they hold. That’s why I have created this email course, where, in five bite sized exercises, I’m going to gently challenge you to step away from the safe, step away from the generic, and into your truth.
I know that you’re busy running your badass business, which is why this micro course consists of daily prompts that you can complete in no more than 15 minutes. Get your brand values right, and they are going to be a valuable brand asset for years to come. Sound interesting? I mean, it’s completely free and you can sign up over at petchy.co/brandvalues.
But wait, there’s more!
I know, I know, it sounds like a TV shop infomercial, but the thing is, I’ve created a new offer and I think you might want to hear about it. If you’re at that stage of your business where your brand feels a bit all over the place, you are definitely going to want to hear about Brand Boost.
The good news is you probably don’t need to throw everything away and start all over. But also, Brand Boost is not a brand in a day service, because designing or redesigning a brand from scratch takes time. It takes a lot more time than just one day. So Brand Boost is designed to work with what you’ve got to give it a boost.
If you are in that place where you’re only kind of happy with your current brand visuals — maybe you DIYed it. Maybe you got a student or a junior designer to whip up a logo on a tight budget. There’s no shame in that. We all know what it’s like in those early days. The only problem now is you’re outgrowing the budget logo, but you’re not yet at that stage where you can throw upwards of €5000 at an experienced brand designer. So you still have to work with what you have. But it’s frustrating, and you keep changing things up because you want to make it better.
When you tally up the hours you’ve spent in Canva, you just can’t help but think that your time would be better spent doing what you do best. And you’re right. Your time is way more valuable when you put it to use in your zone of genius.
To make matters worse, the hours that you spent trying to fix things may well have been making things worse. Because when you’re constantly tweaking your visual brand identity, that tends to wreak havoc with your brand recognition. I don’t want to paint a doom and gloom picture, this is just a fact. Lack of consistency means people don’t recognise your brand, which again means it’s hard to build the familiarity and the trust that you need when you want to build a strong brand.
So what the heck are you supposed to do? I mean, it feels like a complete catch 22 where you’re not in a financial position to outsource everything, so you keep bootstrapping things. But your bootstrapped efforts aren’t really cutting it when it comes to building the brand and attracting the clients that you need in order to make the money you need to outsource your brand design.
Well, I created this new offer because I want to tell you that there is a middle ground. And yes, I’ve helped countless big brands craft their brand identities from scratch, and I happen to be bloody good at that. But I’ve also helped a lot of smaller brands make the most of what they have. #notsohumblebrag, but I dare say I’m pretty good at that, too.
With this new offer, I want to help you where you’re at. I want to spend a day elevating your current visual branding to reach its full potential. So at the end of the day, you have a revised brand identity. You’ll have a primary logo, a secondary logo, a submark, and an icon, a revised brand colour palette… and every single asset will be saved to industry standard file formats. You’ll also have a PDF brand board right there to help you stay consistent as you move forward. And what that means is staying consistently on brand is going to be so much easier because you have the tools then to express your brand personality so that you can show up confidently as you every time. If brand Boost sounds like it’s something that’s right up your alley, please go and check it out over at petchy.co/boost. I would be so thrilled if I could help you make the most of what you already have.
Until next time,
Pssst! If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one! I’d also be super grateful if you’d share my podcast with a biz friend or two, or leave me a review.