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What is Branding? A deep dive with Marty Neumeier

"Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

There seems to be a bit of confusion when it comes to defining what branding is. So, to settle this, we brought in Marty Neumeier—AKA the guy who literally wrote the book on branding—to set things straight for us.

In this video, Chris sits down with Marty for a deep dive on branding, and how to get started in branding if you’re a graphic designer.


Who is Marty Neumeier?

Marty Neumeier started as a graphic designer and copywriter in the 1970s. He went to ArtCenter College of Design in the 60s for two years until he could no longer afford the tuition to finish school. In 1984, when the Macintosh launched, he moved to Silicon Valley to help companies like Apple, Netscape, HP, Adobe, and Google build their brands.

Early in his career, Marty came to the realization of the importance of language in design. Marty noted, “I can’t do award-winning work until I have good writing to go with it.” So, he started observing award-winning work, paying close attention to how the copy and images worked together, as well as how they sounded.

This led him to think about how other things in the design world connect, and what role business plays with design.

That connection between design and business is what led Marty to branding.


What is Branding?

Let’s start by identifying what branding is not. A brand is not:

  • a logo
  • a product
  • a promise
  • the sum of all the impressions

A brand is a result. It’s a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or a company. It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is. A brand is your reputation.

Marty’s ability to recognize the connection between business and design through branding is what made him ten times more valuable as a creative.


How to Get Started in Branding

If there’s one page you can rip from Marty’s book, it’s to seek out the information yourself. Marty didn’t necessarily fall into branding by accident. It was through his observations, how he connected the dots, that landed him where he is today.

Read and gather information about branding on your own. You don’t necessarily need to enroll in a special course—the information is out there if you’re willing to seek it out.

The intersection of design and business is branding. Whatever skills you have as a designer, they become weaponized when you understand branding. Suddenly, you know where to aim those skills. It’s a force multiplier you didn’t know possible.

Want to learn more about branding? Check out Marty’s books here:

  1. The Brand Gap
  2. Zag
  3. The Designful Company
  4. Metaskills
  5. The 46 Rules Of Genius
  6. The Brand Flip
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