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graphic-designGraphic design firms have for years neglected a key space that can bring them a significant new stream of revenue. Most of this missed opportunity is due not understanding the opportunity of branding. For far too long, graphic designers have called developing logos “branding.” Re-branding is being marketed as simply changing the logo of a company. This mis-information is then picked up by the media and the mis-conception breeds on itself. I cringe every time I see in the media that a company is re-branding, and on investigation, see that they are simply changing the logo.

You have to ask yourself, “why are clients seeing a need to re-brand?” and what-ever the reason, why did they feel that a logo change would solve their problem? My guess is that this concept was sold to them by graphic design and advertising firms. After all, that is usually all they understand that branding entails. If the reason to re-brand was a flattening of sales activity, the company wanting to raise the bar and reach to higher levels of business or even to strengthen a brand for a potential sale – how is a pretty new logo going to address those and many other serious reasons to re-brand (properly)?

To graphic design firms: If you’re not getting twenty to fifty-thousand dollars for branding projects BEFORE you even start designing, then YOU’RE NOT BRANDING! In many cases there’s no design included in a re-branding. Many of you are doing aspects of branding for free. Many graphic designers see themselves as artists when they should be seeing themselves as problem solvers. You’d be wise to get a handle on how to sell branding properly. What is really exciting is that branding, when done properly becomes a catalyst for additional graphic design. It may surprise graphic designers, but many brand process elements are not even graphic design functions. It is not a visual solution, but a strategic solution.

Logo re-branding isn’t the graphic designer’s fault entirely. It’s just that they have been sold a bill of goods by peers who see low hanging fruit and don’t have the tools and capability to do branding properly. Keeping the myth alive benefits them. Designers gladly grab the immediate opportunity, not realizing the real money eludes them. Designers should do themselves a favour and investigate embracing a branding process that allows them to not only position their practices as branding leaders but also allows them to change the conversation within their markets. Lift the veil on branding and watch your clients take you more seriously and in an entirely different light.

Sadly, re-branding by logo will in many cases have your clients revisiting issues in the short term. Why, because it won’t (and can’t) solve the problem that brought it about. There’s only so much a visual can do to change perceptions. It’s what we call putting lipstick on a pig – at the end of the day it’s still a pig

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