The Artist I Admire Most and Why He’s the King of Branding and Identity
There are tons of other artists I admire, but as you will notice from the "about” page of my website, I am a big a fan of one in particular. Walt Disney, while he may not have thought of it this way at the time (or at least perhaps did not realize the breadth of it), was truly the king of branding and identity. What I wasn’t quite sure about right there was whether to say “was,” knowing very well that, even though the man himself is no longer with us, the name lives on—and it’s thriving beyond what Walt would have even been able to imagine. Despite the company being about 100 years old, it has held on through everything, and to this day is an absolute behemoth.
Decades ago, when he first sketched the concept for Mickey Mouse during a commute one day, he probably had no idea that it would burst into an empire complete with multiple Disney theme parks across the globe, full-length nearly photo-realistic 3D animated Disney features grossing billions at the box office, intricately detailed Disney cruise ships, Disney video games, Disney soundtracks, Disney food products, Disney channel and TV shows, and even themed fashion and other merchandise.
Few people walk the earth today that have not heard the name Walt Disney. And that symbol—when a child (or adults that are children at heart) sees those little ears, although this icon is but three simple circles, it is likely that his/her face will light up in connecting it with memories they’ve had with the brand. There is absolute genius branding and identity at work here, along with creative prowess, and it’s not going to fade any time soon. Now, you might be thinking, “how the heck is my company supposed to get on that level?”
You may never get to that point, honestly. However, we do know the basics of how Walt achieved this, or more importantly, how he was able to set it up for those that came after him to carry on the business. We don’t know all the behind-the-scenes “magic” but I can tell you the following: branding and identity is crucial for any business of any kind. You need to make a name for yourself, and you need to make it memorable. That is the real goal. Start small—or, seemingly small, you never know where it can go—and pick out colors to get a look and feel. Look through fonts on the Internet, figure out your style, your vision, what you want to accomplish (a good logo will help in this process, too).
Do whatever you can to turn your brand, whether the company is new or old, big or small, and regardless of industry, into something recognizable (in a positive way, of course). You want people to be able to say, “look, that’s a _____!” or “_____did that!” And by no means do I want you to be discouraged because I chose to use Disney as my example in this piece—you don’t need the goal for your reach to be billions or even millions. Hey, if you’re a small company and you like it that way, like I do, you might not even want that (nor be able to even handle that based on your current manpower).
Personally, I don’t even aim for thousands (at least, not at this point in time), I segment it into smaller groups. Target carefully, strategically, not everyone and everything. You could start with 5 people knowing about your business, then 10, and it will be in the hundreds before you know it. Other people will be one of your greatest tools in this effort to really get your company’s name out there because word-of-mouth is powerful. Once you get someone to listen, once you convince a few that your products and services are valuable and your staff trustworthy, awareness will spread, and others will follow suit. You want quality relationships with your clients and customers, you are not just looking for numbers (if your fan base ever grows to the crazy, out-of-control status Disney has, then we can talk).
For the time being, aim for meaningfulness, and see where that takes you. Because right now, you should be asking yourself, what is in a name… and you should be able to answer what you want people to see in yours/that of your company.