Author: kendall-lord.

Setting the Vibe

Setting the right tone. Where does it fit?

Developing a brand can seem like an obscure and daunting process. It can be unclear where it starts and, especially, where it ends. Branding is really a series of stages that all lead to understanding and defining your brand. So, let’s break apart this omnipresent process of “branding” and talk about one stage of the process that is not designing a logo: setting the vibe.

We are visual people so we created this branding timeline for you based on our own branding process – Brand Camp. You see there, right after Strategy Week (always, always after strategy), and right at the beginning of Design Week, lives “setting the vibe” of your brand, also called the “mood” or “visual tone”.

So, what’s a vibe?

After the first week of Brand Camp, after we have pulled out key pillars and core concepts for your brand, you will sit down with the design and strategy team to start exploring the vibe. We use the criteria of the strategy to explore the look and feel of your brand – colors, images, fonts, illustrations. For instance, we might discover during our strategy dive that your brand needs to exude joy, hope, and optimism for young women. So, what does that look like? The obvious pink and glitter? Or is there a vibe that still tells that story, but still uniquely positions your brand?

Color and moodboards sound too hippy-dippy?

Take a look at the two images below and tell me you don’t get a different visceral reaction to each.

 

 

Both sell, virtually the same thing, geoprene wetsuits. Yet, their brands are starkly different and target very different markets. Their vibe is a representation of how they make their products, how they sell them, and maybe, even, how much they sell it for. (#pinktax, anyone)

Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Yes, your logo is important – but your brand’s vibe attracts your tribe. It turns lookers into followers. How do you understand who your tribe is, and then map out your vibe so it attracts that tribe? Well, you first need to back it up with strategy. Then, some kick-ass design can really pull it all together.

I know the perfect place to start – let’s talk about brand camp. 

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Fear and Improv: Part 1

Now, I will be the first to tell you, I am not funny. I mean, my friends think I am funny. Or at least they laugh when I say things sometimes. I also, alongside most people on this planet, get a colony of butterflies in my stomach when I am met with public speaking. At Four Fin, a regular question our CEO asks us is, “What is something you did this month that made you uncomfortable?” A few months ago I decided to really test that and I signed up for an Intro to Improv class. The last time I was on a stage was probably 4th grade when I dyed my hair red to play Annie in “Annie” [side note: “temporary” fire-red hair dye is not so temporary for blonde haired folks]. Flash forward 16 years, I am back to my natural hair color and sweating profusely in my Prius before my first improv class. Fifteen minutes of forced slow breathing and a non-stop internal monologue, I was almost ready. I did a power pose, lied to myself that I would be a NATURAL, and opened my car door. Safe to say, I was not a natural.

The Lessons:

Lesson One.

Improv is hard. Some people are quick-witted and natural on stage but most of us are not and the only thing that helps is practice. I had this realization on my first class when I started sputtering out gnomish in response to my scene partner’s question.

Lesson Two.

I can speak gnomish!

Lesson Three.

Improv is essentially preschool for adults. We play games, pretend we are flying to the moon on a secret mission and, most importantly, act ridiculous without caring that we look pretty stupid.

So, every Wednesday night for the past few months, I have been going back to preschool. Turns out going to preschool as an adult is a lot harder than it is as a 5-year-old. As an adult, I am out of practice playing make-believe. Luckily, our improv coach has a few tools to help the incompetent adult dive back into the land of imagination. The most important thing in the improv toolbox is the phrase: Yes, and. Let’s say your scene partner opens the scene with “Let’s build a beautiful house!” You would respond “Yes and… let’s build this beautiful house out of pencils!” Yes and…  supports your partner, accepts the reality of the scene they want to create and builds on that reality. Now, that is beautiful! Yes, and… also requires listening. This is something I discovered when I started speaking gnomish on my first day of class. You see, I was so in my own head trying to figure out what to respond, I forgot to listen to what my scene partner was saying.

Yes, and … is something that directly translates into life in the real world and into my career at Four Fin. As a branding and design studio, an essential part of our job is listening. Our clients are often responsible for the vision of their company’s overall brand, campaign or targeted marketing initiative (i.e., CEOs, Marketing Directors, etc.). We value the practice of genuinely listening and saying “yes, and…” to our clients’ ideas. It is our job to bring their vision to life with an authentic brand and identity. That requires listening, building upon the ideas and dreams of our clients, and translating that dream into reality. And that, my friends, is beautiful.

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