When Creatives Help Creatives.


Have you heard the saying, “the cobbler has no shoes?” It’s often the same thing for vibrant, bootstrappy creative firms, when it comes to telling their own brand story. Think design studios, marketing firms, sound studios, video/editing studios and other creative shops – in cities, we should mention, that might just happen to be smack dab in the middle of the country or off the beaten path. (Hey, not everyone can live in a creative-metropolis-on-the-coast, right?) 

Firms like this often have mad skills, but they need the shoes to match. Or, like that fabled shoemaker, they need to stop “doing, doing, doing” for everyone else, and take a moment. They need to stop just “cobbling” together their own brand into an image of how they think a creative shop should seem – but actually look inward, and start saying what they really mean about themselves.

Kathleen and I just had the chance to work with one such Oklahoma City design firm. They’ve been blazing away creating some really beautiful brands and modern designs for their own clients, and they have this cool open space along an urban street – and their name is Ghost. The name alone is magical, right? The trigger for them to take a hard look at their own brand, was gearing up for a website redesign and relaunch their internal team would design and develop (which is there anything harder than working on your own projects?) 

But, their principal Brian Barnes, is the kind of creative who embraces – well, other creatives. He and his creative director, Matthew Pickett, decided to take this evolution as a chance to shape up their content as well. So they said to us, “hey Braid, we want you to help us share our own brand story better.” So, of course we say 1.) yes, please, 2.) you have to let us create a brand video for you, and 3.) yo, Brian, you’ve gotta be the voice of this dang thing! So, first, go watch the new Ghost brand video we helped them create, here.

Then read more below, as we Q&A with the guys of Ghost. See if some of the barriers and brave moments that come with (gasp!) letting other creatives, get all elbow deep into your business – perhaps stir up some feelings about your own content (and dare I say, ghosts) of your own.

Ghost Brian Quote

Ghost Matt Quote

Ghost Quote

Why is self-branding such a challenge for creatives, let alone creative agencies?
Brian: When you live, eat and breathe your business every day it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. We face the same challenge as a design company. When it comes to our own story and our own brand we can be a bit nearsighted. Our own needs often get put last on the list behind the work we're creating to serve our clients.

One of the most valuable services Ghost provides our clients, is taking an honest, objective look at their branding. From their logo and graphics, to their collateral and content, the clients aren't always telling exactly the story they think they are. Or more often than not, they're not telling the whole story. Objectivity is nearly impossible when it comes to your own company. 

For a firm like Ghost that already has all these creative components in place – what’s the “before & after” now that you have a clearer vision for your content?
Matt: Working on your own brand and creating that content, is challenging and fun, but it’s also usually done after hours – which isn't.  So you make it up on the fly, and only when you make the time after the paid work. I think that’s why you see so many agencies (us guilty as well), of a site just sitting there with no new content besides the blog (at best) for over a year.

Now our content isn't just about the great creative. There’s still mystery, but you have to be able to effectively communicate about yourself, what you do and how you're different than your competition. We didn't do that for a long time. Now that we have this well thought-out content – that really speaks to what we are trying to do and our process – it makes it a lot easier with clients and internally. Everyone knows what to expect next. 

We’re also putting ourselves out there more, so to speak, which is a bit of a 180 for us. To identify your strengths or the projects that truly excite you instead of a “yes we do everything” mentality, means doing a better job, and in turn getting more of that type of work out of it. I know that's not always reality, but you have to make it a priority or goal.

You’ve been growing Ghost for almost eight years now. What advice would you give to other design firms or agencies just starting out?
Brian: For design firms just starting out, I offer this sincere advice. Take the time to really understand your purpose and your vision. Yes, your talent is important and necessary. But it's just as important and necessary to know what you plan to use your talent for. If you can define the issues or challenges you want to help others tackle, you'll put yourself in a great position to get the work you want. 

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.



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