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Brand purpose for sustainable business
July 23, 2021

Branding vs. Graphic Design: The Coral Reef Analogy

Branding vs graphic design coral reef analogy.

We're guessing that you have never thought about branding and graphic design in the same brainwave as a coral reef, but surprisingly, the two have a lot in common. Of course, we love that our analogy is ocean-themed (did you expect anything less?), but it is also the perfect stage for us to guide you in understanding the difference between branding and graphic design and how your ideal community echoes that of a natural ecosystem.  

First let’s consider the ideal coral reef – a flourishing ecosystem full of vibrant, beautiful and integral creatures. This ecosystem is much like your ideal business. It’s anchored yet purposeful, and stable yet ever growing. So what makes this coral reef such a thriving ecosystem?

The start of every good coral reef is a set of solid and steady rocks that form the foundation of what will one day become a flourishing reef ecosystem. These rocks are much like your business's branding which is made up of brand strategy (your who, what and why) and your core brand identity (logo, colours, fonts, and brand visuals). Your branding becomes the foundation for your business's “ecosystem” or community - made of your loyal clients, customers, and brand ambassadors. As much as rocks are essential for a coral reef to begin growing and attracting the fish who will call it home, by focusing on branding first, you set your business up for success and prepare it to flourish into a thriving community.

Once the base rocks of our reef are in place, the first corals will have a safe place to anchor and begin to grow. These corals are beautiful and vibrant, and they are also strong, thanks to their solid foundation. Although corals start small, they will one day become the centre of the entire reef ecosystem, attracting all manner of life to them. Think of graphic design as the corals of your business. Once you have that foundation of branding in place, you can start adding beautiful and vibrant graphic design to your business and its touchpoints. Your reach with these initial touchpoints might start off small, but because they are anchored to rock-solid branding, they will eventually make up a super strong core for your businesses ecosystem that attracts loyal, long-lasting clients to you.  

But what happens if you try to start a reef without a solid foundation? You can try dumping beautiful corals into the water and hope that they find somewhere to anchor, but more than likely, they will just float around the ocean. Don't get us wrong, those floating corals would be beautiful, and they will likely attract some pretty cool fish for a little while. Still, eventually, those fish will realize they don't have a home in those floating corals, and they will head off in search of a stable, trustworthy reef that supports all their needs in the long term. The same is true for your business. If you try to grow your business with only graphic design and no foundational branding, you may get a stunning brochure and a beautiful logo that attracts a few good customers, but you won't keep them because your designs are not anchored in branding. They may look incredible, but they will not mean much to your audience or contribute to the community you want your business to have.

We live in an ever-changing world, business flows like the tide and the community you attract, be they consumers, businesses, clients, or the general public - are becoming much more aware of a business’ inner workings, ethics and values. These inner workings are essential to who you will do business with, what your impact on the world will be and what type of ecosystem your business will build- which is why we believe that your branding is not only fundamental, but the key to growing your own successful coral reef ecosystem.

So now that we know how branding is your rock, the foundation upon which your business is built, and how graphic design is the beautiful, vibrant and purposeful corals that anchor on top of that base and that function as the core your community will grow from, it’s time to ask yourself, maybe the most important business question you may ever receive:

Are you going to float, or are you going to anchor?

Ps: Deciding on who your brand is can be daunting at first, so if you’re feeling unsure of where to start putting down that anchor, you can book a free discovery call with us and let us help you start to build your reef...we mean brand.

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