Don’t Sink Your Brand With the Wrong People

Don’t Sink Your Brand With the Wrong People

Hands up if you’re SUPER into metaphors

And now that we’ve identified all the former English majors in the room, let’s move on.

As an early college grad, I ghostwrote a book about corporate crisis management. And as boring as it sounds, it was actually one of the coolest ghostwriting projects I had ever done. You know why?

Sailing metaphors.

Angry clients pounding on your door? Here’s how to avoid it in the future as told through an anecdote about a shipwreck in the 1800s. Shitty communication leading to burned out employees? You just did the same thing this ship captain did, and everyone died. Way to go.

So let’s follow this line all the way over to the branding world.

Your brand isn’t a brand. It’s a boat.

In building and defining a brand, you’re going to have to make some long-standing decisions. You’re going to have to take some time to really think about how to future-proof your ideas.

What can change in the industry? Is it likely new regulations will be introduced? What about the product itself, how might technological advancements help you? Or will they put you in your grave? What competitors aren’t even in existence yet– and what weak spots in your brand will they try to leverage against you?

As a brand ideator, a founder, an entrepreneur, a designer, a manager, whoever you are, your success in defining your brand is based not in past research or hands-on present experience. It’s based in the future.

So how do you future-proof, protect, and grow your brand?

Answer: Investing in naturally inspired and creatively talented people.

At The Digital Shortlist, if there’s only one thing we know, it’s that all your power comes from your people. Your hiring decisions are how you future-proof your brand. Because once you set sail, once you’re launched, this is your team. And honey, you’re stuck with them. This is your brand, and it’s how you’ll always be perceived (unless you go back later and rebrand, a time-consuming and reputation-obliterating process putting you back at square one).

Whatever your brand looks like, whoever you’ve got on your ship, is staying. And they’re the ones that are going to keep you afloat or not.

You don’t just need any old graphic designer with a decent portfolio to whip you up a logo in Illustrator. You don’t just need any communication arts person sending you a brainstorm list of taglines.

You need someone who is exquisitely daring, innately creative, and uniquely driven.

And you need more than one of them.

How to find your crew

Look in odd places, and look for odd accomplishments. Don’t filter your search by GPA, degree, or years of experience.

Instead, drum up a creative and weird test assignment, and see what you get back.

Instead of checking out their score on an English skills test, have them write a 300-word blog post on something they find interesting, and see if you’re surprised by what they come up with when given so much freedom.

Instead of asking for their most recent reference, see if their LinkedIn recommendations include any statements like “Beyond their work ethic, their passion for rocking the boat is something we found invaluable.” or “Wherever they go, I know they’ll change the world one design project at a time.”

Investigate, Investigate, Investigate

Don’t ask them about their strengths and weaknesses or why they want to work for you, expecting some ridiculous answer along the lines of, “Yeah, I’ve dreamt about being your designer since I was a baby.” Instead, ask them about a time they weren’t proud of a project or collaboration and why.

Ask them about their values and who tends to disagree with them. Ask them if they switched their major halfway through college. Ask them the best thing about not going to college. Ask them what they hope their future kid does for a profession.

Instead of the generic “Hopefully my future kid finds a perfect balance between doing something they like and making money,” you’ll start getting responses like, “I don’t want kids, but I hope the next generation puts more value in liberal arts and we find ourselves in a second renaissance.”

Creativity shows itself in weird places, so give your prospects some weird places to occupy.

Build a crew, build a boat, and set sail knowing your brand is gonna be around for the long-haul. 

Interested in getting your feet wet? Apply for a position today.


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