Identity as a Prerequisite for Success
Build trust through design repetition and consistency.
charity: water is a nonprofit organization that's been on my radar for several years, but it wasn’t until this past spring when I was interacting with their web assets and marketing collateral - browsing their resources and diving deep into their website - when they moved me from the “Yeah-I’ve-heard-of-them” category, to “These-guys-are-freaking-fantastic-and-unbelievably-inspiring” category.
In other words they’ve drawn me deeper into their tribe. They've compelled me that much closer to becoming a complete raving fan.
From their consistent design, to their branding that gushes with intentionality, to their founder’s story of selfless service and world-changing ambition (which they tell in a repeatable and clear way) - charity: water has cultivated trust and moved me to tell others about them, copy them, and desire to be associated with them.
Our lead partner taught me that our brand story must be crafted before the marketing wheels are set in motion. Because knowing who you are as a business is keystone, and precedes pounding the pavement pitching and promoting.
As an organization, your self-awareness is a prerequisite to seeking scale and exposure. This is counter cultural to the current business climate where unrestricted growth and market capitalization is heralded as the Alpha and Omega.
Imagination (and intention) proceed success.
Warby Parker is another beautiful example of this intentional, methodical move to create a brand identity before setting the marketing wheels in motion. They took almost two years from epiphany to launch to intentionally craft, curate, and refine their brand identity.
In a culture where speed is gospel and the ugly tyrant Urgency rules how we operate, one would think taking this much time to flesh out their brand identity is ludicrous and a fast track to failing to launch.
Yet, when Neil, Dave, Jeffrey, and Andrew decided to disrupt the prescription eyewear industry, they began by building and curating their brand story and values.
From the brand colors - they loved the quirky blue footed boobie.
To the Warby Parker name - hat tip to their beloved author, Jack Kerouac.
To the minimalist and understated style - thank you monocles and fixed gear bicycles.
The Warby Parker moniker did not just happen. It was hand crafted. Over years.
Imagination precedes beautiful design.
The lesson here is in their thoughtfulness and imaginative approach to crafting who they were and who they would become as a company. Imagination and intention laid the foundation for their epic success.
And it should be noted that they didn’t just sell a sh*t ton of glasses. They've built a following. They have amassed raving fans.
I remember reading about their two year journey to the starting line and refining their identity, and they quickly became my favorite start-up*. I tell everyone about them. I wear their glasses. They’re my faves.
[*Yes, I have a favorite start-up companies like other people have a favorite baseball team. I’m a weirdo and a specialist like that.]
All this to say, your story - your identity as a collective - is (or should be) crafted and intentionally woven into the fabric of your product or service. A strong brand identity and beautiful design makes your message concise and effective. Do the hard work to make your story, your identity, your brand memorable and repeatable.
"We believe a strong sense of brand can set us apart and amplify every message we send. [Our brand identity] should inspire creativity, while explaining the core attributes that make charity: water unique."
- From charity: water's brand book