This past week I attended “Standing Out: Branding That’s Personal,” a panel discussion presented by AIGA DC, which I was really looking forward to. The panel was diverse in terms of background and experience, so I was expecting a lot of different insights on how to stand out in the design market, which is currently much more competitive and saturated than ever before. I ended up most enjoying the insights from the moderator, Victor Nguyen-Long, but the conversation itself focused mostly on the importance of authenticity, honesty, and how to take advantage of the social media platform algorithms.
Anyone with experience in branding and brand strategy knows that authenticity and honesty are things that must be kept in mind when designing and building a brand, so that was not surprising. There were a good amount of cliches thrown around on this topic, such as “If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything,” rather than tips for how to stand out when everyone is striving for the same thing. The panelists emphasized the importance of sharing on social media—some said that sharing should be curated, while others said that even the most mundane parts of every day life should be shared to better connect with your audience. It was interesting to hear the different perspectives, but it just made me think about how everyone is shouting into the void that is the Internet, trying to get noticed. There are still other ways to build your brand besides social media, which I feel was left out from the discussion.
Brandon Groce, a brand strategist, provided some interesting tidbits on taking advantage of certain social media algorithms (and focusing on one platform and doing it really well)—but does trying to game the algorithm system mean that the more interesting small or new brands (who may not be as socially savvy) may not bubble up to the top? I guess the key takeaway is that after you’ve designed your brand, you have to maximize social media in order to continue building it.
I think this event was a good first step in terms of discussions around branding, but it only scratched the surface.
Disclaimer: these are my personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my current or former employers.