A Note On Rebranding
If you asked my friends and family how many times I've branded myself, the answer would be more than even they can remember. To be transparent, I've felt discontent with my brand's visual identity for, well, my entire career. There have been moments when I've created something that I've been temporarily proud of, but only to become—for lack of a better word—bored with it. I'd move on to something new, without truly understanding why I was doing it. Honestly, I didn't have a grasp of who I was as a person. How could my branding truly reflect myself then?
Do the Inner Work
Lately, I've been doing a lot of "inner work" as I've heard people say before. What I mean by that is simple: I'm beginning to understand who I am. Not even in the sense of personality or characteristics, but the essence of Sam Miller. I'm starting to understand how I'm wired, how I think (and I think a lot), how my strengths and weaknesses affect me, etc.
While this is helpful for a number of reasons, the simple truth is:
If you don't truly understand your client, coming up with effective solutions is going to be difficult.
Why? Because when you don't understand something, you're making assumptions. While these assumptions may be true to a certain extent, it's better to hear firsthand from the client. Let them tell you their story, their quirks, their vantage point.
Understanding Yourself Serves Others
To better serve my clients, I began a journey years ago (without knowing it) of self-discovery. I started with Myers-Briggs, moved to the StrengthsFinder test, and most recently have dived into the Enneagram. While it has tangibly formulated into a new visual system to work in, my branding goes far beyond an Instagram post or a case study on my website. My branding is who I am; it's my lifestyle. How I treat the barista who serves my coffee is just as important as picking a typeface for my brand.
With that being said, I treated myself like I would treat any client I work with. I started with brand discovery. I brainstormed words that resonated with me, aspirational words, and words that I didn't want in my brand. If you don't know where you want to be, start with words you don't want and build from there.
Take Out the Guesswork
After I came up with my list of words, changing my visual identity, brand strategy, etc. became easier. It wasn't easy by any means, but it took out the guesswork.
Trust Your Process
If you're a fellow designer, I'd urge you to not only get to know your clients on a personal level, but to get to know yourself. Develop a strategy for your business and a process for how you design. Having an established point of view is one of the most important things you can do as a designer. Don't be passive. Feel free to explore and figure out what sticks and what doesn't.