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How to Tune-Up Your Bullshit Detector


How to Tune-Up Your Bullshit Detector


In the immortal words of Jon Stewart, “Bullshit is everywhere. There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been, in some way, infused with bullshit.” As a brand strategy and design agency, we live in the intersection between people and brands. This is perhaps one of the most fertile, organic spaces for bullshit to thrive. The speed of technology has created a sizeable gap between those who know what they’re talking about and those who don’t. Our job, to the best of our abilities, is to eradicate the nonsense, the fluff, the jargon, the overpromising and...
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Who Thrives at a Brand Strategy and Design Agency?

Who Thrives at a Brand Strategy and Design Agency?

What type of person thrives at a brand strategy and design agency? Looking around our office, we have people from advertising, journalism, psychology, economics, sociology, sales, graphic design, media – and like any successful venture, a few restless English majors. Is there a through-line? In our line of work, we privilege business acumen, technical fluency, big idea thinking, writing prowess, collaborative mindsets, passion, curiosity, empathy, and an obsession for the details. We get just as excited by an experiential brand launch as an exquisitely organized messaging matrix. With our...
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The Super Tough Brands of Fragile Masculinity

The Super Tough Brands of Fragile Masculinity

Last week, the world was given two small wonders: War Paint, a hyper-aggressive makeup brand exclusively for men, and Liquid Death, canned water designed to look like beer. Two “wellness” brands aimed at men, cloaked in the visual language of skulls, tattoos, and violence. What can these two bizarre companies teach us about the role of gender in branding? And is breaking down male stigma in the wellness space simply a design problem? Branding … For Him! Let’s start with War Paint. Their 13-second ad features a heavily tattooed man using various products, flexing his pecs, and adorning...
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Brand Positioning: Why Now?

Brand Positioning: Why Now?

Reasons to Invest in Brand Positioning There are many reasons why a brand might need to invest in brand positioning. In our work, we see businesses thinking about repositioning for many reasons. Sales might be declining. Your target audience may have shifted. You may have realized you’re targeting the wrong people. Your product roadmap has evolved. Competitors may have entered your space and you can’t seem to differentiate your value. Maybe, customers even perceive your brand as outdated or irrelevant. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of ecosystems overcrowding. As a...
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#100DayProject: From Ancient Symbols to Brand Design

#100DayProject: From Ancient Symbols to Brand Design

This year, the design team at Emotive Brand is participating in the #100DayProject. Today, we sit down with Senior Designer Jonathan Haggard to discuss symbols, simplicity, and how to be brave in your creative decision-making. What is the #100DayProject? The 100DayProject is a free art project started by Lindsay Thomson that takes place online. Every spring, thousands of people all around the world commit to 100 days of exploring their creativity. The idea is that you pick a theme or a project and rev on that 100 times. This year, our focus is on how ancient symbols inform contemporary brand...
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Why Do Billion-Dollar Companies Use Stock Photography?

Why Do Billion-Dollar Companies Use Stock Photography?

The following pictures are from the websites of Fortune 100 tech companies in the year 2019. I did not edit or manipulate them in any way, and most of them are only one click away from the landing page. To reiterate, these are companies that drive billions of dollars in revenue, and often spend years crafting their identity. Three business professionals inexplicably working on one computer, eleven people smiling into the same void, a hand with the power to emit data-point holograms – this is the visual language of stock photography for enterprises. When it comes to the subject matter, there...
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Culture Is Everything: A Roundtable with Emotive Brand

Culture Is Everything: A Roundtable with Emotive Brand

Atmosphere. Vibe. Energy. Mood. That certain je ne sais quoi. It’s often difficult to describe a company’s culture, but you can feel it the second you walk in the door. Rajeev Bhardwaj described work culture as “an intangible ecosystem that makes some places great to work and other places toxic.” BambooHR says it’s “like a set of miniature societies within a larger society, and their cultures are expressions of the work they perform, the values they adopt, and the collective behaviors of the people who work for them.” Culture can bring strategy to life, ignite business success, and...
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Unifying Vision, Mission, Strategy, Brand, and Culture

Unifying Vision, Mission, Strategy, Brand, and Culture

It’s very difficult to work hard when you don’t understand what you’re working toward. We’re all capable of putting our heads down and grinding it out – but that behavior generally leads to burnout, apathy, and updating your LinkedIn. A recent study from Reward Gateway, a global employee engagement company, which surveyed 1,500 workers and 750 senior decision-makers across the U.K., U.S., and Australia has revealed that only 25% of employees feel completely informed about their employer’s corporate mission and only 32% of employees feel completely informed about the values of the...
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Is It Possible to Ever Truly Be Brandless?

Is It Possible to Ever Truly Be Brandless?

There’s No Brand Like No Brand at All At its heart, branding is about clarity. When we do our job right, we deliver clarity of purpose, message, and design. In this space, minimalism is something that is hard earned. The paradox is that it takes decades of tireless work to reach a stage in which your brand is so ubiquitous, it’s nearly invisible. Brands like Nike, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Shell all utilize wordless logos, the end result of a process that’s sometimes called “debranding” or “decorporatizing.” The benefits of reaching this iconic tier are innumerable:...
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Brand, Purpose, Culture: The Triple Threat For Business Right Now

Brand, Purpose, Culture: The Triple Threat For Business Right Now

In Tandem We talk a lot about how businesses today need a strong brand, a clear purpose, and an inspired culture. Each of these brand components are playing a greater role in business success today. Sometimes it appears that if you just have one, you might be able to turn your business around. But this is no longer the case. Without all three – brand, purpose, culture – working together and driving one another, rising to the top is not a possibility. Simply embracing purpose is no longer enough to stand out. Even the most talented people aren’t going to drive you into the future without a...
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Mind the Gap: Bridging Strategy and Design

Mind the Gap: Bridging Strategy and Design

Here’s a simple truth I’ve learned working at both design-led and strategy-focused agencies. Strategy and design work best when they work together – from beginning to end. The problem is that strategy and creative are often regarded as separate instead of complementary disciplines. They have separate teams, separate processes, different skillsets, different client interactions. They approach problems from different angles. They may sit on different floors, different buildings, or even different firms. And, typically, the biggest communication between the teams is a handoff from one to the...
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Want to Grow Your Business? Adopt a Founders’ Mentality

Want to Grow Your Business? Adopt a Founders’ Mentality

Growth Paradox We work with CEOs every day, developing strategy and helping leaders position their businesses to meet their growth goals. From small, young start-ups, to well-established, huge enterprise businesses, CEOs have a tough role – and leading business forward amidst high growth is a challenge we see again and again. Today’s companies are scaling faster than ever before – even in the middle of increased competition, market pressures, and the stress of solving problems faster and faster. It’s no surprise that the average lifecycle of organizations is getting shorter and shorter. The...
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Brand Essence Is the Heart and Soul of Your Business

Brand Essence Is the Heart and Soul of Your Business

The Miracle of Brand Essence To begin, we turn briefly to the world of basketball. The Los Angeles Lakers, a once-beloved franchise, have not won a championship in nearly a decade. This year, they will not make the playoffs for the sixth year in a row, the longest drought in team history. Yet despite this, every year, the Lakers sell more jerseys than just about anybody else in the league. How is this possible? Even though the team is weak, its brand essence is incredibly strong. If branding is the heart of business, then brand essence is the heart of branding. Think of it as a tool, often...
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The Latest, Greatest Thing in Digital Is Print

The Latest, Greatest Thing in Digital Is Print

Print Is Dead, Long Live Print Every year, we hear print is dead. And every year, it proves us dead wrong. The fact is, digital transformation has its upper limits. There are some analog experiences – like the genuine discovery and delight of wandering through a great bookstore – that technology is currently incapable of replicating. Between 2009 and 2015, what’s known as the Amazon-fueled “retail apocalypse,” independent bookstores grew by 35 percent. Perhaps it’s the tenacity and resilience of print that has led many companies to start publishing their own magazines. Uber, Airbnb, Casper,...
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Branding Project: Do You Actually Want Something Bold?



Branding Project: Do You Actually Want Something Bold?



Make it Bold There is a four-letter word that gets said during every branding project. No, not that one. The word is “bold” and no one knows what it actually means. Perhaps it’s the word’s own sense of daring and fearlessness that has allowed it to march undaunted into every creative brief and client meeting, even when it is not requested. Enterprise software companies want to be bold. Insurance adjuster services want to be bold. Startups and law firms and logistic companies want to be bold. But do they really? What it Is and What it Isn’t Here’s what bold is: it’s uncomfortable. It’s...
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