Why you don’t need (elaborate) branding (yet)

Many branders love to tell you that the very first thing you need to start your business is branding.

Or they tell you that if you already started your business without branding, these are the 15 reasons why you absolutely need branding right this second.

Their lists includes things like: branding makes the right impression, branding establishes your authority, branding tells the world what a pro you are.

I’m here to tell you that’s all a load of hot steaming unmentionable matter.


You don’t need branding.

At least not right now.

In fact, branding can be one giant aesthetically pleasing distraction.

And since there are so many ideas floating around the interwebs about what branding even is, let’s just take a moment to define some terms as they will be used in this here humble little blog post:

Your brand is the impression your business makes on people. It is intangible.

Your brand design is the graphic representation of your brand. It is visual.

Branding is the process of deciding what kind of impression you want to make, on whom, and how. It is strategic. And it includes brand design.

So even though we often talk about branding like it’s a simple as getting a logo and matching everything, it’s a bit more wibbly wobbly than that.

Branding takes the oftentimes slowly winding path to figuring out what your work is actually about, who it’s meant for, what community you belong in, and where you’re steering this ship… just for starters.

And solid brand design should at the very least include some conversations around all this so that your logo and matching everything can actually communicate the essence of your work in a meaningful way.


When you’re starting out, this kind of branding is almost impossible.

For starters, getting real clarity about your brand can take it’s sweet time. Because you are a complex evolving being and your business is along for the ride right there next to you.

Add to that the well documented fact that the first few years of business are like self-development bootcamp and it’s almost guaranteed that the thoughts you have about your brand on day 1 will feel completely wrong a few years in.

You learn so much about yourself, your work, the kind of people you enjoy, how you want to do things…

You and you business will evolve and change so much that any elaborate brand design you create around the initial idea will soon start feeling like those embarrassing high waters I wore throughout the 5th grade.

No hate. We all have our awkward year and this was mine.


Plus, branding can totally be a distraction.

Brand design is one of those things that you can spend endless hours on… pinning inspiration, printing new business cards, tweaking every last detail on your website… Only to repeat it all again in a matter of weeks.

When what you really need to be doing in those first few years is figuring out two things:

  1. What your business is about at its core
  2. How to make money

And those two things are haaaard.

Learning what your work is really about brings up all sorts of uncomfortable existential questions. What is my role here on earth? What do I want to leave behind as my legacy? What kind of impact do I want to make on others? What is even the meaning of life?

And putting yourself out there to make this thing profitable at the same time?

Yeah, no wonder we look for all the things we have to get absolutely perfect before diving into those waters.


What to do instead?

Forget distracting yourself with the creation of regrettable high waters. What if you set yourself up with something stretchy and lightweight and flexible instead? So that as you hit the millionth growth spurt in a single year, your pants just grew with you?

Before I lose you with my decades-old sartorial anguish and all our hearts’ dream pants…

Flexible brand design is way better than any elaborate visual identity when your business is still young.

Flexible brand design keeps things as simple as possible. That way, as you make all these awesome discoveries about your work, your people, and yourself, you have the room you need to explore and evolve… and, yes, stretch.

It’s the type of visual identity I set up for myself during this recent rebrand my own semi-public existential crises.

And I’m fully convinced that this is the way to go for many of us whose businesses are closely tied to our deepest selves.


Want me to help you create your very own stretchy pants brand?

I’m taking a small amount of flexible brand design projects before the end of the year. Let’s talk*.


*Flexible Branding is a new offering I’m testing out. It’s quick, it’s collaborative, it’s fun… and it’s totally within your budget. When you click that link, you’ll be prompted to send me an email…. Just ask for more details and we’ll talk about what working together on a flexible brand design could look like.


Scroll to Top