"What About The Logo?" Is the Wrong Question.

We were working on a fun client branding project recently when something happened to turn on a lightbulb for our clients.

I love when these "lightbulb moments" happen, and I'd like to share this one as a great example of our unique approach "at work" with 16 Hoops.

To give you a bit of background, we do branding differently from a lot of other agencies out there.

We are highly specialized since we only work for photographers, and we believe that the destination determines the map.

From point A to point Z, whether it's a 1-month or year-long project, all design decisions are laser-focused on the desired outcome established early on. That's the "strategic" part of our design firm.

This desired outcome is usually buried very deeply. Working closely with our brave clients, we have to stir up quite a ruckus to find it. 

And we wouldn't have it any other way.

As one of my favorite design mentors, Eric Karjaluoto at Smash Lab, likes to say: If you aren't willing to do the hard work to make meaningful change in your business, then... "There are tens of thousands of other design agencies who'd be happy to take your money anyway."

So, back to our story.

We had gone through the very hard work of the positioning module of our program, and armed with that knowledge, we were now knee-deep in our "design thinking" phase.

But before we could even get through our first branding exercise, our client asked,

"Well, what about the logo?"

("Well, who cares?" was what we WANTED to say.)

But--thinking better of it, drinking our own Kool Aid--we advised them:

"Don't ask 'Well, what about the logo?' Ask instead, 'How, when, why, and where is my logo being used to inspire my ideal client to pick up the phone and hire me?'"

And then ask: 

"How then, again, are the identifying marks, icons, colors, textures, logos, feel, fonts, words, packaging, etc., being woven together in complete harmony throughout the entire client experience of my business to elicit warm fuzzies and command a premium price?"

And finally ask:

"How is the complete yet delicate ecosystem of my business experience being revealed, shared, and demanded in the larger world/market?"

Ding, ding, ding. Lightbulb went on. That's what branding is all about. Suddenly the client was able to see how their brand is like an ecosystem, rather than just a logo and a set of colors. All the parts work together in harmony--each unable to shine without the others--to showcase style, purpose, personality, and value to their target client. 

Or at least, that's how 16 Hoops approaches branding for our clients. Seth Godin also has a wonderful definition of branding as an ecosystem.

Our hope is that 16 Hoops clients will never look at their logo the same way again.