ABOUT THE BRAND
CONTEXT IS QUEEN
What’s in a brand? The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
There are various debates and opinions about branding and more specifically, personal branding. According to Thebe Ikalafeng, who is the founder of the award-winning African brand and reputation advisory firm, Brand Leadership Group, and has worked on over 100 diverse brands across Africa gaining an incomparable perspective and experience on building brands and reputations in Africa, a brand is a promise. I tend to agree with this statement, but when unpacking it for a person, it has the potential to become complex due to the human condition.
Let’s unpack that statement for a moment. Given that we exist in a time of uber consumerism, for many people around the world, the best way to differentiate themselves and what they consume is predicated by a set of values or a decision tree that has various influences that control the outcome of that decision. Since the market crash of ‘08/’09, we’ve seen a global increase in the sale of luxury goods, especially in Asia. So D&G, LV, Prada, Versace, Tom Ford, Cartier etc have all convinced us that their promise is one of quality and luxury.
By the same token, if we were to look at the likes of Tom Ford, Giorgio Armani or Carolina Herera, these are people who have put their names to product lines, making their promise a very personal one. Delivering on that promise consistently has allowed them to extend into other realms such as home ware, accessories, fragrance and even automotive.
In marketing and advertising we’ve seen the emergence of the influencer or tastemaker over the last few years, thanks to social media. These are people who are able to influence the perception of a consumer brand and leverage the influence to hopefully increase the consumption thereof. Their promise is CREDIBILITY but is often compromised because the client and/or ad agency often compromise the authenticity of that influence by imposing how the influencers communicates or expresses themselves.
As a strategic thinker in the realms of branding, brand communications, media, marketing and business development, my personal and corporate brands all embrace a philosophy of being brand custodians and building communities around them in an authentic and consistent manner.
CONTENT IS KING
When briefing the design for my personal brand, I consulted a few people who I considered well versed on the subject of branding, but who I also believed knew me well. It was important to get various perspectives of how I am perceived and reconcile that with how I perceived myself.
It was all about what was consistent about me, what was expected and often assumed about me as well. It was also about what resonated with my ideologies and me.
Most people who look at my logo see an eye first. Those closer to me see the letter G first as that is the most popular nickname for me. That result was engineered with the designer when I briefed them and they executed it perfectly. The eye is a globally accepted symbol for many things, e.g. Insight, Intelligence, Vision. These are all qualities I believe I possess and apply in my process when working. As an African, I also referenced the Adinkra symbols.
[Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Ashanti, that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra are used extensively in fabrics and pottery. They are incorporated into walls and other architectural features.]The ones that resonated most were the ones that also incorporated an eye of some sort, especially the symbol for Universe.
Having the formation of the G as part of the eye is slightly more esoteric and spiritual. G is the 7th letter of the alphabet. In numerology, the number 7 represents the Crown Chakra that has the qualities of brightness, elevation, security, mercy, security and love. The purpose is to be a platform of elevation, guided by questions such as; Do I feel secure in universal love?; Am I unhesitating in uplifting others as well as myself?; Do I light up a room when I enter it?; Do I feel connected to spirit?
The number 7 is also representative of my numerological life path; the source of Knowledge – expert, thinker, analyze.
The bar that contain the eye are there to center the eye, but also represent parallels in our life. They are there to bring some structure, but also balance.
THE EARS/GREATER THAN OR LESS THAN
The protruding parts of the image can be seen as ears, because listening is vital to communication. They are also the mathematical symbols for greater than and less than. They are positioned where they are to represent that I am neither greater nor less than anyone else I see or hear.
One of the most important characteristics of a good brand is that it is fluid. Fluid in the sense that it can live virtually anywhere without feeling out of place. I believe that the final execution of the design brief was achieved as the symbol can live almost anywhere and on most of my interests, from clothing & accessories to automobiles and various establishments or real estate. Another important characteristic of a well designed brand is that it is engaging, drawing the consumer in whilst implying the right characteristics, creating intrigue and curiosity.