Behind The Scenes of Brand Development ft. @ofleatherandlace

Miranda Priestly: 'This stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

x x 

Yesterday a voice note from an inspiring as heck girlfriend reminded me of this moment in, yes The Devil Wears Prada. I had watched it just on Sunday, the twinkle of the fairylights from the Christmas tree reflecting in the screen when I realised something. This scene doesn't just apply to the Fashion Industry. Obviously I already knew that, but it really HIT me. When people come to me to help them build a brand from scratch, nourish their brand or even just to do what I like to call a 'health check' to see what strengths and weakness' they were already hitting on their own, I confuse people more than I would ever be proud to admit. 

As someone who spends almost every waking moment seeing in color references from my Pantone color wheel (thank you Dad), thinking in CSS and judging the visual weight in every situation put before my eyes - I instantly start coming out with a list of questions. 

#1 What do you want your brand name to really encompass and mirror in people. 
#2 What are the brand pillars you want the weight of your work to be held up by? 
#3 What is the color story you visually want to tell? 
#4 What style of visual design do you want?
#5 To what % do you want to lean into what is trending in social media marketing? 
#6 Have you worked on your brand mission statement? 
#7 How would condense your brand promise down into a statement for advertising? 

& yes these are all just the first few questions that come to mind when someone asks me to discuss a brand with them. 

Most of the time I'm met with very, very skeptical responses and yes that is putting it nicely. Most people question how any of it is relevant to a brand?, how it's possible to put the projected hours into a brand?, am I just having them on? If I didn't love what I do so much it would probably make me question a lot of things. But the reality of this is that when you sit in bed at night, way past the time you should have gone to sleep and - you guessed it - scrolling through your phone, mindlessly liking imagines - those pictures did not take the split second of effort it too for you to like it, to create it.

Now this can down to many various aspects of what it takes to create content. Some creators do it all alone, some have teams, some sit in the middle of the two extremes with one or two trusted fairy god mothers to keep them in line. But even as someone who creates no 'real' content for herself - I am so over the narrative of how toxic and vapid Instagram is. Yes just like everything else in the world Instagram has a dark side because of how people using it choose to act - but a lot of instagram is just people like me who spend hours and hours - curating, planning and creating content. 

That is why I am so obsessed with the trend of showing the behind the scenes of what, who and how long it took to get to the finished piece of content, championed by creators such as one of my favorite at the moment Tina Lee aka @ofleatherandlace. I was going to make an 'inspired by' post dedicated to her but the reality she is the creator that I have found the most honest, methodical and out spoken about just what it takes to create the content she does. 

Now of course looking at someone like Ms.Lee is an extreme because her content is literally 'out of this world' level work. But if you look through her stories and see the time frames, costs, planning that it takes her - know that it is the same principles just on sliding scales for all of the creators you, yourself follow on social media platforms. 

Organization and preparation are at the heart of all of it. Everything else is moving piece tied together at it's core by the processes you put in place to make it so. When I work on a long term basis with a creator / business my main responsibilities are : 

- Content planner for all platforms they use (instagram, twitter, blogs, facebook business) 
- Reviewing and critiquing pre-prepared feed mock ups on a weekly basis (I tend to try and work three weeks ahead of what will be posted. So the feed I will see this week from a creator - you would see posted to their feed in THREE WEEKS time) 
- Designing all of the graphic based content for their platform. 
- Creating content plans for engagement boosting tools (for example one of the biggest ones IG Story) 
- Holding weekly or by weekly creative meetings that tend to last from 45mins - 2 hours depending, where we discuss the content being made, the content the come. The direction of the brand. Any upcoming plans.
- Creating and planning out Social Media Marketing Campaigns wether this be for in house items such as promoting their blog or of course the campaigns created for sponsored content. 
- Be available for communication via email for all questions and queries 
- Be constantly analysing both the numbers of the creator and numbers of creators with a similar niche. 

This was just some of what inspired the color story to the right that I created for a client re-brand.

But the reality of all of this is that it doesn't even just reach back as far as the people like me orchestrating and developing the brands.  The work I do and the designs I create and inspired by and influenced by a multitude of things. One week it could be interior design, the next an issue of Vogue - but when I say that my inspiration comes from everywhere I mean it literally. I'm infamous for going into the grocery store for one item and coming out twenty minutes later with a phone filled with pictures of fonts and color blockings that I found interesting in the branding of food labels. Inspiration and influence is everywhere. 

Everything we create is never just anything. It's influence, it's impression, it's compassion and contrast, it's being sheltered, it's being brave and bold. There are no limits, no lines that you can cross. It's limitless. It's everything and it's why it's the only thing I could ever imagine myself doing. 


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