How to Develop a Brand: Rapid Fire Failure

In my last previous How to Develop a Brand post I explained why developing a brand for ourselves is important and briefly went over some good and terrible reasons for rebranding (I want to make sure you don’t make a huge mistake like Tropicana did a few years ago). This post is going to go over the first steps of actually developing a brand, which I like to call: Rapid Fire Failure.

Rapid Fire Failure

Now this may seem a counter initiative thing to call the first step of developing a brand, which is the centerpiece to your business or product, but hear me out, failing as much as possible is the fastest way to success. That doesn’t mean our goal is to fail, our goal is ultimately to succeed but we need to accept the fact that success is a byproduct of a massive amount of failure.

Outliers, a book by Malcolm Gladwell, which is about what kind of people succeed and why they get to that point (Read the first third of it, then put it away, the rest is redundant and somewhat depressing). He dissects the lives of all sorts of successful people like canadian hockey champions to the programmer Bill Joy. To give you a brief summary it takes about ten years with several hours a day to become an expert at anything. So we can conclude that it takes a lot of failure to reach the peak of success.

Now we don’t really need to be an expert to develop a great brand, you may need to be an expert for a huge client like Coke to allow you to take a shot at branding them, but how often does that opportunity come along? Don’t worry about sinking ten years into learning how to brand, the way to speed this process and get to your goal in a timely manner is simple: Rapid Fire Failure. The faster we fail the closer we are to our goal of success, so failing more often, still with the goal of success in mind, is ideal.

It’s simple in concept but a little more complexed in execution. Here are a few steps that will help you out:

  1. Regurgitate
  2. Evaluate
  3. Proceed or Eliminate


Get your ideas out however you can. It is super important that do literally regurgitate, vomit your ideas onto something. You can use a piece of paper, a white board, or sometimes you can use a mind mapping program like MindNode (Mac only) or Mindmister¬†(These are not affiliate links)¬†which are great tools for quickly regurgitating your ideas. It is also very important that you do not evaluate during this step, it’s human nature and quite common to eliminate an idea before it gets out of your brain we have to resist this temptation and get all the ideas out no matter how off they sound. This is particularly hard to do when you are brainstorming with a group, it’s very important everyone in the group understands that all ideas need to at least hit the table. I’ve sat in on countless brainstorming sessions that were a complete waste of time because one or two people were shooting down ideas too soon and everyone eventually shut down out of frustration or out of trying to think of an idea that was “good enough” to not be shot down.

Below you can see the process I went through for rebranding Southpaw, using MindNode and a sketch pad. Honestly there is no correct way to do this part only that you don’t do it in your head, there needs to be a physical action associated with getting the idea out of your head. Sometimes the most ridiculous ideas seem pretty feasible after you’ve written them down.

Southpaw Mind map

Sketch 1

How to develop a brand

Sketch 3

I probably should have done about four times more regurgitation than I did with this rebranding.

Evaluate and Eliminate

Now that you have a plethora of ideas you can move to the next step, evaluate. This is where you need to gauge the worth of each of your idea. You can give your ideas a rating, or circle ideas that you believe to be working well whatever system you can develop for evaluating your ideas works. Try to eliminate 70-90% of your ideas be brutal during this step because ultimately only one idea can win.


You now have a handful of good or great ideas to work with. From here you can move on to further develop your ideas. You want to continue to evaluate and eliminate as you move forward, remember you want one really good idea and you don’t want to waste time on ideas that aren’t working.

Below you can see how I moved forward with a couple of ideas for Southpaw I felt were solid. Often times my Illustrator work files are more cluttered and diverse than this one but I didn’t really regurgitate as well as I should have (I will talk about this mistake in an upcoming post).

Southpaw Digital

This is the rapid fire failure process of how to develop a brand. The more small, minor failures you have at the beginning the better your end product will be.

I challenge you to take this approach on your next project, it can work on just about anything you are creating not just branding. Leave a comment below letting me know how it went, I’d love to hear your story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>