There are a lot of designers that struggle with their own identity, myself included. We develop brands for other businesses all the time, so you would think that branding your own would be easy. Well, it’s not. It’s far more difficult and, in fact, it’s something that may take years to develop.
I used to spend far too much time trying to design a logo for myself only to hate it two weeks later, when I would decide to go in an entirely new direction. What I’ve now learned is that the reason I was failing repeatedly at branding my own business, was because I had no idea of what exactly it was I wanted to achieve. And if I take a look at the brands I’ve developed and why they seemed ‘easier’, it’s because each and every client came to me with a clear and precise business plan already prepared and thought out.
These days, everyone and their uncle call themselves a graphic designer, which makes it extremely difficult to separate yourself from the crowd. And while it’s good practice to dabble in different areas of design, eventually you need to find your niche if you want to be successful. Now, I’m not saying to give up working on projects that don’t fit into whatever your niche may be, because it comes as a great asset to those who can work with different styles/themes, and work across different mediums. But, you do want to fine tune your business goals and focus on the areas where you really want to excel, and in turn this will help define who you are as a brand.
What really helped me in discovering my brand, came first and foremost from my inspiration sources – blogs I followed, articles I read, designers I admire, and of course my own personal style and taste. One day last year when I was asked the question, where do I want to be in five years?, is when it hit me and everything became crystal clear – I finally knew where I wanted to be (from a business standpoint, not physically), and how I was going to get there. Hallelujah! Now, if you haven’t heard of the five year plan, basically it’s a planning tool where you take some time to think about where you want to be in five years, and you develop a step by step plan (complete with goals and milestones) of how you’re going to get there. And until last year, I’ve honestly never had a chance to really sit down and think about my own five year plan. I tried asking myself this question time and time again, but I never could settle on a definite answer.
So to sum things up, if you’re anything like me and are struggling with your own identity, a good place to start before determining your long term goals is by asking yourself the following questions:
1 / Where do my strengths lie?
2 / What is it about design that I love the most?, and
3 / If I could wake up and work on any project, what would it be and who would it be for?
If you start with those basic questions and really give yourself honest answers, then you will have a solid starting point in fine tuning who you want to be as a brand, and where you want to go as a business.
It’s funny how you can get so frustrated one year, and then the next everything becomes crystal clear when you realize that THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life and THIS is the direction I want to head in.
Have you ever had a similar struggle? I’d love to hear more about how you got to where you are today.