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A key component in any brand strategy effort is consensus among the brand’s key stakeholders. Without it, the risk of failure increases if full support for the strategy is lost later on. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was working with a client that had a number of key stakeholders at odds on several issues. Knowing this going in, I opened the workshop with a story that has stuck with me about advertising legend Bill Bernbach. Maybe it will inspire you as it did me.

Bill kept a small piece of paper in the breast pocket of his jacket. When he was in the middle of a meeting with a client who had an opposite point of view to his, he would pull out this piece of paper and read it to himself. On the piece of paper were three words: “Maybe he’s right.”

Bill’s wisdom and these three words helped us achieve consensus that day.  More importantly, I find it a valuable reminder that in our professional and personal lives it’s wise to take a moment and remember those words when viewpoints clash.

“Maybe he’s right.”

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Originally Posted by Derrick Daye, The Blake Project in ?Branding Bag?, Derrick Daye | Permalink

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by Roland Murillo
Principal/Creative Director, Murillo Design ::

I guess there are times when some business owners have to ask themselves a simple question, “Do I want to use or buy stolen property for my business?”

If someone pulled up with a big truck and offered stolen office items or merchandise for sale, would you buy it? What if it were dirt cheap? What would be the harm in buying a stolen copier, computer, conference table or desk? What would be the harm in stocking a shelf with product that fell off a truck? Will anyone ever notice or call the authorities? Will you get caught?

There is an obvious risk in such behavior, but we know it is happening somewhere right now. Someone is saving a buck by buying stolen property. The risk is overshadowed by the short-term savings that may seem too good to pass up to some people. The question then becomes, “Does it really help or hurt his or her business?”

Now, what if the thieves that sell the stolen goods are caught by the authorities and have a list naming their customers? Will the business owners (buyers) face legal liabilities, fines or jail time? Will their businesses suffer?

www.logogarden.com is selling stolen property. There are dozens of stolen designs on this site, and they are being sold to (previously) unsuspecting business owners. Because of this, the owners of this site may be held accountable by the courts and laws that protect the logo designers, and the brands that own the lifted identities that are being “re-purposed”. I know of at least three reputable designers that are taking legal action as I write this because I’ve been in contact with them concerning this site. And, at least one of my designs is also on this site, but I will leave it to my former employer to send the “cease and desist” notice.

Logo stolen by logogarden.com

Another example of why using online logo services is risky. This exact icon was first designed by Gardner Design for Kansas Humane Society . It recently appeared for sale on http://www.logogarden.com. A potential legal liability?

Many of the stolen brand identities are worth thousands, if not millions, in business investment and brand equity. The brand owners will most likely seek reimbursement for infringement, legal fees, lost revenues and royalties. Some of the stolen designs are the sole property of a designer, so there are copyright issues there, as well.

What will that mean to the buyers of these stolen properties? There is an obvious purchasing record,  so I guess it’s up to whatever is legal in their state. If they were merely victims of fraud before, they may be knowing participants now because the word is out about logogarden.com. What impact will that have on their business, their related marketing investments and their brand image? Will their reputation be affected? Will they learn from the situation or try another online logo service for their new identity, and risk repeating the offense?

As always, it is best for business owners to find and work with a reputable, talented, seasoned and professional designer. There’s a reason why these bargain bin logo sites have to steal logos to make any money (and logogarden.com is only one of many). Developing good logos, great logos, effective logos, original logos requires a process and a trained skill that cannot be matched with shortcuts or inexperienced designers. A business identity is a customized tool that is shaped specifically to the individual needs of a specific client, product or service.

Our advice for all business owners is to diligently research several design firms in your area, and visit or call their offices to confirm that they are legitimate professionals. If you go online to find your expert, then confirm that they are not crowd-sourced, or outsourcing their service. And, keep in mind that the first indication that someone could be selling stolen brand identities is the offer of the highest level of expertise and service for an unrealistically low price.

Also, we advise all business owners to view their own brand identity for what it is, a unique and valuable piece of company property. It’s an investment that requires serious consideration and it’s an important part of any business’ success. It needs to be protected, so register it via copyright or trademark as soon as possible, so if someone tries to steal it and resell it, you have a way to reclaim it.

As the owner of a design and branding firm, I obviously promote professional logo design to every business owner and am happy to provide it to anyone who values our services. Just as I do, most designers work with their clients on budgets to make it affordable and scale the process to perfectly fit the need or scope. Most business owners know that strong brand identities will not be done in 24 hours nor will they cost $79, so allow the designer a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable budget to work with.

The good news is that this is not an industry problem. Reputable designers will never be like those online logo services for one simple reason. Reputable designers won’t ever lift or sell stolen property as they are the originators of the goods that others want to steal. And, as a result, business owners will always know that what is delivered is not only a powerful business tool, it is also theirs and theirs alone.

by Rolando G. Murillo

A well known artist died in a bike accident this weekend. His name was Chuck Ramirez. He was 48 years old.

I met Chuck when I landed my first design internship in 1996. He was my first creative director and, technically, my first design mentor. But, the most lasting lesson I took away from that experience wasn’t concerning design, it was about finding happiness in life.

Even though he gave it his all, as the head designer of food packages, I believe he hated that job to the core. He didn’t find joy in designing grocery store packaging, and I think he was miserable every day I saw him. Some time after I left, he left his comfy, although ill-fitted, position and pursued what made him happy. He soon made a big name for himself as a fine artist.

Being around that office for three months made me realize that I had to find a different path or I would end up being in the same miserable place in the near future. I made a decision, I packed up belongings and moved myself and my future wife to San Marcos to attend Southwest Texas State University. There I gained the education and understanding of design that my community college education could never have given me. That became the launch pad for my career.

I ran into Chuck last year and we caught up. He was like a different person. He was smiling and friendly, and not at all the crazy, tantrum-prone boss I had some 14 years ago. He was happy and someone I would have liked to have known better.

Thanks for the unintentional push in the right direction, I’m glad you found your happiness and Rest in Peace.

After about 15 years in this business, I think I’ve heard it all (as it relates to what I do). Since I’ve worked with clients from all walks of life and professions, I find it curious that I tend to hear similar comments from so many different types of people. It’s as if there is some business book out there, like a travel companion, and it has all of these specific phrases listed under ‘how to communicate with a graphic designer’. Recently, I decided to put some of the most memorable quotes in writing. Actually, as so many designers are doing now, I put them on t-shirts. I’m not sure if anyone would wear them, but it helps exercise them from my head. For those creatives who know where I’m coming from,  feel free to share your own favorite quote. If I use it,  I’ll make sure you get a shirt.

* quick note on the first quote in the image. Mija or Mi’ja <pronounced ‘miha’> is spanish short-hand for “my daughter”. It’s a term of endearment also used to refer to a niece, granddaughter, etc. It’s commonly used in central and south Texas.

Here are 11 things to know about building a stronger brand.

11. Align your brand to your audience’s values.

10. Differentiate and make your brand relevant in the market.

9. Know your specific audience.

8. Celebrate your product’s strengths and correct the weaknesses.

7. Align your brand message with your business goals.

6. Refine your brand’s core essence to its simplest form.

5. Train your employees to be your brand’s first ambassadors.

4. Identify  the most effective brand communication strategies and routes.

3. Listen to the consumer and be responsive, as they own and guide your  brand.

2. Don’t feed a brand you can’t keep. Successful brand building is a long-term process.

1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Every so often, we will be posting useful information for branding and design enthusiasts from all walks of life. We will pass along branding and design articles, news, tips and discussing all things related. Plus, I will keep you posted on our latest work and any MD news that I think might interest you.

I’ll do my best to keep the information interesting, relevant and not bombard everyone with too many posts. In the meantime, visit Murillo Design’s site for our latest news and info.

– Roland Murillo

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