Branding has always fascinated me. How a brand is nurtured and crafted. Brands that tell you everything you need to know about a company. Those brands that leave behind a good feeling and those that miss the mark.
This lifelong fascination is one of the reasons I co-founded A Brave New. It’s also why I was so excited to talk to the guest on this week’s episode of A Brave New Podcast, Fabian Gerhalter.
Fabian is a brand strategist and creative director who has done extensive work for brands like Marriott International, Warner Brothers, Match Group, and Kaplan. He’s also helped a number of startups craft a brand that helps them stand out in crowded industries.
During our conversation, Fabian discussed that, like me, he’s always liked brands. “As a kid when I was in the back of the car, I would watch other cars go by and think, Wait a minute, that’s a Volkswagen … that’s a Jaguar,” he told me. “That idea of identifying something that people purchase and a lot of people actually fall in love with stuck with me as I studied graphic design.”
To Fabian and me, a brand is more than a name and a logo. As he put it, “There are plenty of companies now where, even though I only work on the brand part, very often the brand is the philosophy and true north of the company.”
This idea of a brand meaning more than a name also pays dividends. “If you’re at all successful as a company,” Fabian said, “people are going to steal everything away from you. They’re going to copy you. But the one thing that you have, even if they have a similar product and a similar name, is the soul of your company.”
As an example of branding done right, Fabian talked about a young spring water company with a surprising name.
“One startup that is just absolutely knocking it out of the park is Liquid Death. The brand is so silly and stupid on the outside, but it’s also so deep and well thought through on the inside. The water is made with a punk aesthetic, so it’s hilarious if you like the humor and appalling if you don’t.”
The Liquid Death brand isn’t just a gimmick, however. As Fabian noted, “Their product is shipped in aluminum rather than plastic, so they’re actually helping the environment by becoming a big brand. So creating something that is cool, that goes totally anti-marketing and anti-advertising, is actually doing good for mankind.”
As for the current state of branding work, Fabian doesn’t think much has changed—with one notable exception.
“The only thing that’s changed is that it’s much harder work these days to come up with a name, because during the pandemic, everyone either started a business or felt like buying domains in case they decided to start one.”
My thanks to Fabian for the lively and informative discussion. You can hear our entire conversation by subscribing to the A Brave New Podcast wherever you like to get your shows. You can also find Fabian via the Instagram account for his company, Finien Consultancy which, he admits, has the unfortunate handle of @_finien_.