Self-Promotion: The Toughest Brand


I was in a Starbucks this morning and while trying to decide what I wanted commented on the dreadlocks of the person beside me. “Nice locks,” I said of his trim, slightly copper-tinted locks.

We talked about where we were from, how nice the day was, killing time on a lazy Saturday afternoon. After, a little small talk, we found out we were both graphic designers. I said, “Do you have a card?” He said sheepishly, “No, I don’t.” I added quickly, “I don’t either.”

Why is it that many graphic designers don’t have their own business cards while they happily create them for others? Because self-promotion is as difficult as the eternal question, “Who am I?” for designers.

I’ve made many a business card from a hand-drawn rapidograph, to a quickly rendered typeset card, to a sophisticated die-cut on one edge hallelujah to my business.

I am always astounded by the brilliant self-promotions in Communication Arts magazine. Some are simple, some are complex, some are somewhere in-between, but the success of them all is that you get who they are instantly.

There’s also the feeling that none of them were toiled over. There is an overwhelming sense of confidence and self-knowledge. The brand is consistent, clever and unique. And there is no doubt that the designer knows they have only an instant to convey, “This is me.  I’m brilliant. If you don’t use me it’s your loss.”

If a designer is able to achieve this for themselves, they can do it even more quickly for someone else. For most of us, it’s easier to see someone else’s value than our own.

It is just one more reason I love design. The challenges never cease.


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