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Product Before Swag

Prioritize Your Business

Working in the graphic design industry has exposed me to one startup after another. I am pretty sure each of my family members has a friend that just started their own business, and thus “needs a website” or “needs a logo”.

A few of the people/businesses I have come to work with in this capacity want to spend so much time on details of the brand image, colors, shirts, stickers and seemingly very little time on the product/service. This is a recipe for failure if not done correctly.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the importance of a brand image, and where swag comes in to play. But when we have spent 8 hours on your website in refining minute details, and you still haven’t refined the product/service you are selling, something is wrong.

I will quote myself in a letter I recently wrote to one of these acquaintences:

“I am a firm believer in having a product before marketing it. People have given me a hard time for a while for not making Blue Mammoth shirts/stickers & etc… Which honestly I think it would be awesome to do so. (I can even picture Blue Mammoth polos like the Lacosste shirts). But I am sold more on the fact of refining a product/service and spending time & energy on that, prior to the branding behind it.”

In the web world, your product/service is what makes up for the core of your content. Content rules over anything when it comes down to designing your website, and ultimately your swag.

An Example

DevinSuperTramp has spent YEARS making vids, both good and bad, continually uploading more and more content. When his biggest video went viral (Epic Rope Swing) I think he received a huge out pouring of fans, and has a good fan base he can now sell ‘Merch’ too. However, he has no “brand identity”. His channel graphics are amatuer (and his BTS channel graphics are legit** wink). He could now make some money off of merch, while creating an identity, but he has yet to do so – although now is the time.

**I sent some channel art to Devin Graham in hopes to do more work with him, in the mean time it reside on his behind the scenes channel, seen here. (Update 3/3/2014 – Due to the new YouTube layout my art can no longer be seen.) Note the “Background by MyBlueMammoth.com” on the right side of the channel area? Yeah that was me.

Be Smart

Every company, every product, every situation is different, but please, for the love of Pete; refine your product before you go start slapping your logo on everything.

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