Ryan Hall, Fifteen4’s Director of Brand Strategy, shares why there is no such thing as a quick fix for a brand, but the dreaded “P-Word” (process), when done right, will become your dollar bill, with both destination and decisiveness falling out of the vending machine after an extremely subjective, emotional, and abstract endeavor.

Our leadership team was recently asked the question, “What’s the biggest misconception people have about bringing a brand to life?” The question came to each of us individually as part of an agency-wide project, but the resulting answers were fascinating.

Because we all said exactly the same thing.

With our combined decades of experience working through the good, the bad, and the ugly with our clients, we all agreed that the biggest misconception of brand-building is that it can be a quick fix; that you can throw money and resources at it and just “make it happen;” that you can skip the line, take a shortcut, and produce a brand overnight.

As creative insiders who dwell in the trenches of brand building, the desire to want a quick fix is easy to relate to. Who wants to spend months and months grinding on abstract questions and research when all you really want is a shiny new thing?

We get it.

All of us have been there. We feel your pain. But brand building is more like hunting a unicorn than using a vending machine. You can’t insert a dollar bill and enjoy your favorite candy bar in seconds. You can invest a lot of time in it, but that doesn’t necessarily make the end result happen faster. At the end of the day, there isn’t a “quick fix.” There’s no shortcut. There isn’t a secret passage or magic portal.

But there is an answer. You just may not like it:

It’s the dreaded “P-word.”

That’s right…process. That orderly, rigid, elegant, confining, frustrating, and logical sequence of events that leads to a specific destination. Are you excited right now? Ready to dig in and have some meetings? Let me explain a bit more before you bail on this blog post and head over to 99Designs.

For organizations that value brand, the process should actually be your best friend. When done right, the dreaded “P-Word” becomes your dollar bill, with both destination and decisiveness falling out of the vending machine after an extremely subjective, emotional, and abstract endeavor.

So, what exactly is this process? And what is it not?

  • The process isn’t magic…It’s a series of tasks with specific intent based on sound strategy. It becomes magical when everyone plays by its rules because ultimately, the process gets out of the way and you’re forced to work with the raw elements of your brand, no more, no less. That’s where the magic happens.
  • The process isn’t science…It’s scientific in the sense that it has order, logic, and hierarchy. But it’s not an algorithm. It’s not alchemy. We’re not putting ingredients together for chicken soup. But there is a clear order and analytic side of it that you’ll miss if your team jumps right in and starts picking font styles and colors in the first meeting.
  • The process isn’t a guarantee…Following a specific process in your endeavor to build the brand doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a final product that everyone loves. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get what you need. It doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s like an old fashioned family road trip. The whole family is in the car, but where you end up and how much fun you’ll have are kind of up to you.

Process is a red herring when it comes to your brand. Don’t hate it. Don’t avoid it. But don’t put all your faith in it either. It’s there to provide structure and stability and remove the emotional conjecture (aka guessing) that so often makes up the early stages of brand development and identity.

Embrace process. Bring your most creative, analytical, emotional, and stoic members to the table together to appreciate its beauty from Day 1.

You can’t slip it a crisp $20 and speed it up.
You can’t hack it.
You can’t print a fake ID and go to the front of the line.
Pay your dues.
Put in the time.
Grunt.
Sweat.
Trust.

Let process do its work and partner with it from the beginning and you’ll get to where you want to go. You might even have fun along the way.

And if not, find a dollar, hit the vending machines, and get ready to try again.

Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall

Director of Brand Strategy

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