Who am I? It’s one of the easiest questions to ask but one of the most challenging to answer. Even if you can’t quite nail it in life, knowing who your business is and keeping its identity consistent is vital.
Like it or not, in 2012 brand defines us and it’s essential to establish a strong image if you want to achieve any sort of market position. Three years ago Fiasco approached its brand identity with reluctance and a lack of confidence.
We didn’t set down any guidelines for our brand approach, such as use of font type or logo, and as a result there was a severe lack of consistency across the branded work we were putting into the digital realm. It looked messy, and I realised that everything you do, inside and outside of work, is a reflection of the business. So I began to look more closely at how to make it work.
We found that you needed four key ingredients: coherence, consistency, legibility and mystery. We were falling down in the first three of these, with the only mystery being that we weren’t entirely sure ourselves what we were offering! It’s so important to look at what your offering is and the market around you, then set down a clear direction or set of objectives moving forward. These considerations will always start with the same sort of questions: Who are we? What are we going to offer? What are our strengths?
The answers to these questions helped inform us about the kind of brand we wanted to create, the kind of identity that we wanted to release into the world. It showed us the type of business we wanted to be.
However, this is all pie in the sky unless you work with clients who match your style. When I left university, I was told that the best path of action would be too take on any work I could find, initially just to build up my experience and portfolio; even if that meant working for free.
I don’t want to discourage this entirely, but I do think that you have to set yourself a standard. Sometimes we’ll work with clients who, while they can’t match our full rates, we admire and want them on our portfolio. Sometimes they can make up for costs with the added exposure or services trade they can offer. Just last year we worked on a new website for Alfresco Disco knowing full well that the budget wasn’t going to stretch, but we took it on anyway because we like what Alfresco do, like their brand and the events they put on. We felt that the reduction in cost would be justified by having a brand like theirs on our books.
The key point is about integrity and to value your own work. Design has become an undervalued part of what businesses do these days. Adverts for 99p logos and websites for £200 have meant that everyone thinks they can get design work for peanuts but as everyone knows ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’. It is very easy to get frustrated with this, especially in the early days, but while you shouldn’t rule anything out, you also shouldn’t take any job at any cost just because your bank balance is low.
Integrity is such an important aspect of business. If you want to build a successful brand it’s going to take time and people have to believe in what you’re doing before they place trust in your business. That is a lot easier when you have a portfolio of creatively interesting, authentic work. When you’re trying to make this a reality, mistakes are inevitable but that is just part of the learning process and you can’t be afraid to try new things.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where mistakes are seen as an indication of failure and discouraged from school and beyond. But without making those mistakes, how do you ever learn? We decided that if we stayed completely within our comfort zone we’d put out mediocre, forgettable work. Our ethos has been: step outside your comfort zone, be bold, be daring. Be offensive if you have to be! We’ll learn more about ourselves that way than always taking the safe option.
Founded in 2010, Fiasco Design have gone from strength to strength over the past three years. Working with clients such as Channel 4, Aardman, BBC and The Watershed, they were also involved in Nightmare High – the BAFTA award-winning online game from Somethin Else Media.
Illustrated by Hello
- One Thing I Know