Updated: Aug 23, 2021
I want to tell you about my client, Greg. Earlier this year, he had hired me via Upwork to help him design a lead magnet for his online writing school. As with any client I work with, I asked him about his business and whether he had a style guide to follow for the lead magnet’s design. This is when I realized that Greg didn’t have any real branding in place for his business, not even a logo.
THE VALUE OF BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS
I knew Greg was serious about getting his digital writing school, Vagabond University, off the ground or he wouldn’t have been working so hard to create the content for his lead magnet to begin with. I told him he should really prioritize branding his company before beginning to put out any content.
There were two key reasons why branding would benefit him in this scenario:
Having a strong brand would establish credibility to those considering to opt-in to his lead magnet.
Branding his business would allow him to strategically target his ideal customers.
I mentioned to Greg that I was a brand designer but at the time, Greg hadn’t budgeted to hire a brand designer and I wasn’t there to up-sell him. I told him to think about his options and let me know how he’d like to proceed with the lead magnet, though strongly encouraging him to get — at the very least — a logo in place. I knew I could work from a logo design to establish some brand guidelines as we set out to design the lead magnet.
A couple of days later, as a way to save money, Greg told me he’d hired someone on Fiverr who, as he put it, “really seemed to have a knack for logos” although their avatar seemed quite cryptic. (Red flag #1.)
However, the turnaround time would be three days which seemed to work for his timeline. (Red flag #2.)
Greg got back to me in two days with four logo designs to choose from. (Red flag #3.)
Getting one logo designed in under three days, let alone four, is astonishing and already tells me that nothing about the designs would align with the brand for which they were meant to represent.
Now, before I show you the designs, I want to tell you about Greg and what I had come to know about him in our few conversations at this point.
THE MAN BEHIND THE VAGABOND BRAND
Greg has a very unique story. He has been published by every major media outlet you can imagine from Business Insider to Playboy (though he swears it was the travel section) and Cosmopolitan to Lonely Planet. He’s also a Guinness World Record Holder for Longest Journey By Car In A Single Country.
But his back story is what makes him so interesting and, to me, this was where his brand identity should emerge from. To give you an idea of his backstory, his author bio begins with: “It all started when I was fourteen years old. I left high school in the middle of ninth grade and went to a rehab for thirty days."
Needless to say, he’s had a wild life. He’s very forthcoming and, despite having been both homeless and a drug addict before he turned thirty, he has a great sense of humour.
Greg shared with me the logo designs he’d received and asked for my feedback. These were the logo designs:
My initial thought was that they were very generic and, to be honest, looked to have been created with a free logo maker. While the execution is good quality, none of the designs really spoke to his brand or personality from what I’d already learned about him. I asked him whether he’d sent the designer his bio. He said he hadn’t thought to nor was he positioned to offer more insight on himself or his business.
While any one of these logo designs would have been fine to use for his business, there was no real significance to them and zero connection to his brand. Nothing about them suggested a vagabond lifestyle that was so central to Greg’s brand and business.
BRAND DESIGN: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME
This is the difference between hiring a logo designer versus hiring a brand designer. While there are plenty of very skilled designers out there who can create beautiful logo designs, if you’re serious about the success of your business, investing in your brand upfront is worth every penny.
If you do it right the first time, factoring in a brand strategy to define your purpose, your goals, your audience — this strategy will help control the narrative of your brand and spare you the time, money, and effort of rebranding your business in the future.
VAGABOND UNIVERSITY BRAND IDENTITY
In the end, Greg did decide to hire me to design the brand identity for Vagabond University and the outcome was one that truly aligns with his character and business.
The approach I took with the brand style was adventurous and fun, professional yet rugged. What we ended up with was an original brandmark created by combining a location marker with a writer's nib to connect the notion of travel and writing. From here, every other element of the brand identity started to fall into place. The selected typeface, textured treatment and logo style were all deliberate choices to convey the rugged yet professional tone of his brand.
And you better believe we created that lead magnet. In fact, we’ve worked together to create and brand an entire Vagabond course library, Facebook campaigns and writers workbook.
Investing in your brand pays off. A logo designer may have the technical skills but a brand designer will dig deeper to create a brand identity that is authentic and true to who you are... one that will resonate with your ideal clients and allow you to grow your business with pride.