3 Invaluable Branding Lessons Inspired by My Travels

 In Blog, Brand & Logo Design Tips, Strategy & Improvement Tips

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Learn to find branding inspiration in unexpected places.


Over the last few years, I’ve made my way to incredible places, opening my eyes to new experiences, exciting stories, and well-rounded cultures. Many of these visits have impacted the way I think about the brands I work with.

In this spirit, I’ve put together three invaluable branding lessons inspired by my travels.

Barcelona, Spain

When I visited Barcelona several years ago, I was there during their annual holiday, Three Kings Festival (Fiesta de los Reyes), which is a merry addendum to their Christmas celebration.

The holiday spans two days and centers on the three wise men’s arrival in Bethlehem after Jesus’s birth. Even here in the US, you can pick up a Three Kings cake early in the year at most Spanish bakeries – they’re fun and tasty!

Much of the community is off from work and gathers for food and colorful costume parades that completely take over the streets. When I was there, every single road and tiny alleyway felt special and cared for. The light displays were amazingly creative and perfectly tailored to fit their surroundings.

My branding lesson:

I was impressed by how the Barcelona community rallied to ensure everyone felt the holiday experience.

Even the smallest of details shined and helped make the celebration truly sparkle. It reminded me of the joy I feel when guiding companies in harmonizing their branding so that every encounter with prospective customers (even the smallest ones: hello, Instagram highlight icons!) is well-curated and consistently represents how they care for their customers.

Arizona

It can be a little jarring visiting Arizona if you’re from anywhere but the southwest of this country.

Once I landed and began to take in the scenery, I felt like I had stepped into another world. It was overwhelmingly dry, the plants were prickly, and yawning canyons and vast deserts surrounded me.

But despite my initial impression, it struck me how the locals made the most of what little flora grew there (I’m a plant-aholic, so my antennae were up). Using local cacti and other strange but beautiful plant life, many residents crafted stunning landscapes and lovely median gardens.

When I saw the landscape through their lens, I could take in the breathtaking views, absorb the warmth on my skin, and appreciate the cultural richness around me.

My branding lesson:

You might think your brand has too many things working against it, but those unique differences make your brand memorable. When you work with the right creative gardener who understands how to sow the right seeds in your environment, the potential to grow and thrive is there, even within a desert.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was one of my favorite places to visit. You might think the lush rainforests or vivid beaches won me over, but it was actually the people.

One person I particularly remember meeting was a server named Priscilla in Tamarindo on the Pacific coast. She told us about this small aviation company she and her boyfriend owned and how they helped visitors see more of Costa Rica from the sky. The way she described it sounded like an unforgettable experience.

Soon enough, to my surprise (and initial terror, which quickly turned to delight), I found myself in a small, open-air helicopter, taking in the insanely gorgeous views and genuinely understanding the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida,” which means “pure life.”

My branding lesson:

The people behind a company are important ambassadors of the brand experience that we carefully craft together.

Often untapped as an extension of the brand, these individuals can help establish deep connections and inspire loyalty, sometimes without even knowing it. It’s essential to nurture these relationships because they can either represent your brand in a positive light or a negative one.

To sum it up

I hope you can see that branding lessons can be found practically everywhere. I found unique lessons in Barcelona, Arizona, and Costa Rica, just to name a few. I hope you find your own branding lessons and, better yet, share them with me!

One more travel tidbit for you. A friend recently recited this great marketing blurb to me: “Once you visit Alaska, you never come all the way back.” In the context of visual branding, if we do our job really well, your customers will never completely leave because we’ll have helped them find purpose.

When it comes to your brand, no company is too big or too small to consider the impression they leave on current or prospective customers.

Key takeaways

  1. Even the smallest details of your brand matter to future and current customers.
  2. Explore and maximize the potential of the unique differences (not downsides!) of your brand. They may be the key to making your brand memorable.
  3. Nurture the relationships with the people behind your company. They are extensions of your brand.

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