There are basically two ways to market yourself these days: You can either take your chances and rely on a mishmash of materials that have no real connection to each other. Or you can increase your odds dramatically by creating a unified brand image for your business.
How's this for cause and effect? I can directly connect my largest advertising client to a coordinated image created for me a few years ago by a Seattle-based firm, Lost Luggage, designers of custom portfolios, presentation cases, and other utilitarian and fashion-forward products. I first went there to have Jason Brown, founder and senior designer, create a portfolio for me that would have as high an impact on the advertising world as my corporate portfolio had on my corporate clients. With national clients like Victoria's Secret, Finlandia, Nike, Vespa, and Diesel, I knew this design group would come up with a winner for me.
As it turned out, the portfolio (top) was a knock-out . . . a cool combination of street smarts and classic elegance. I got to talking with Jason and Nadine, his wife and business partner, about how a pattern they had noticed during their years of working with commercial photographers: Their promotional materials lacked a key element that pulled everything together in a cohesiveness, overall look.
In response, their graphic design team created a service they call Brand Envy to help photographers accomplish just that. While I had never thought of myself as a brand, I was intrigued. I realized I, too, would benefit from well-coordinated marketing materials. So I asked them to help me rebrand myself to get the same kind of edge with my new prospective market, the advertising world, as I had with my corporate clients.
Working off the look of the portfolio, they developed a new website for my studio. The site is an extension of my portfolio, clean and simple. Designed in Flash, it uses the technology without being pretentious, and reflects my style and typeface.
Next, they came up with a new promo piece for me. This 16-page, 11x17 soft-cover promo piece is bound together with a heavy thread-an eye-catching element that gives it a distinctive look and visual hook to arose curiosity. I send the promo to prospects in a silver, translucent package, which matches my portfolio case-silver aluminum "Isotope" with frosted clear acrylic cover-encased in a black neoprene O2 slipcase, all monogrammed to match the promos.
This presentation was directly responsible for my landing the AT&T Wireless account. Why was it so effective? It had all the essential ingredients of a successful brand identity program: (1) a clear goal; (2) storng and consistent graphic design; (3) consistent identity usage; (4) original use of materals, from portfolio to promo, giving all pieces a distinctive quality.
Building on the foundation we had developed, they recently designed my favorite promo yet: a 42-page hardbound book (open, at left) recipients love so much they actually ask for extra copies for their offices.
This piece, as well as any other collateral materials we create, will open new doors and enhance my value in the marketplace because, as I've learned from my Brand Identity mentors, "In today's extremely competitive marketplace, an integrated look can effectively place you ahead of your competition."
For Corwin's images, visit
For more about Lost Luggage's Brand Identity services, visit