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Branding Essentials for Designers

Lesson 1 of 14

Personal Journey


Branding Essentials for Designers

Lesson 1 of 14

Personal Journey


Lesson Info

Personal Journey

Hi everybody, it's good to be here, and thanks for having me. And I'm gonna take you on a journey, a journey really through my experience of brand building and what I've learned in my personal journey and working with all the great brands that I've worked with. And I'm gonna talk to anyone that needs to know how to create an emotional connection between something, like it could be a product, could be a service, could be an experience, and a consumer. So it's matching up people that want something with something that you have. So whether you're an entrepreneur and you're building something that you think the consumers might want, what's the story that you're gonna build around that to make it something that is more than just a product, make it part of their lives? So really anyone who creates and wants to communicate. Story-driven brands are really those that have longevity. So if you think of great brands out there, you think of Apple or you think of Nike or whatever brand that is one ...

of your favorites, think of those and you think of, it's kind of like a person, you can describe that personality of that brand, you can think of the things that they've done and things that they've said through their advertising and other things. And in order to build that brand, you have, of course, a plan. So that's your strategy, and you know, you look at the marketplace, you look at competitors and all those things, so we're gonna go through all that stuff today. And the execution of that brand is with the tools that you create. So tools are your name, your logo, graphic elements, photography, the product itself, all those different things. And the execution of it, of course, is advertising, online, PR, any type of communication that you have, retail events. So as I mentioned, as I warned you, I'm gonna take you on this little journey of my history. And it all started right here. It all started in a little town in Western Kentucky. I'm from a little town, and this is real, this is a real thing, it's between Possum Trot and Monkeys Eyebrow in Western Kentucky. (audience laughs) Those are two real towns. In fact, Monkeys Eyebrow, I picked tomatoes in, and Possum Trot, I worked in the tobacco fields when I was growing up. So what that gave me was an appreciation for options. I had no retail options there. I, you know, had a couple of stores and so when I went out into the world, I started exploring all that was out there, but it really did, as I was growing up, it really did help set who I was. And this is a little visual journey that you see, through my life. I grew up very much like all of us, in a loving household. But as I started growing up and I started learning about myself and what I was interested in, I did it through other brands. I was really into certain things like music and technology hadn't been invented yet. We had record players and all those things, yeah, we didn't have computers. But as I was growing up I was feeling what was right for me. And I ended up in this, lots of awkward hair things going on there, of course. I think what it was that I knew that some day this might happen, you know, I might... I looked at my father and my mother's father and I saw, okay, I might be going there so maybe I should take advantage of it while I had it. So I basically did everything I could with my hair, you know, while I was growing up, including, you know, grew it long. And so as we get to the end of this little... And then of course I shaved it off when I got to a certain point. You see this slide here, this is little hair stages here. You see it went from the long hair, and then I kind of did the medium thing, and then I ended up shaving it all off, and the path that I, you know, after those years of seeing what I might want to do in life, and I though what I'd really love to do was tell stories, and I thought the best place to tell stories was acting. So that's what I went into. I went into acting and so going into acting means you become a waiter. (audience laughs) So I started at Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset and Doheny, in Beverly Hills, and I waited on all the stars, while I was waiting to be a star. I waited on anyone you can name from Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, you know, musicians, everyone. And I pursued acting at the time, and this is a kind of funny thing. I was living and I had this tree outside of my house, and I was gonna go for an audition for a movie, and Gus Van Sant, who is pictured right here, was directing the movie. And so it was for a homeless guy. And so I had long hair at the time and I thought, okay, I'm gonna really do this right so I buried my clothes under the dirt and I, you know, got them all dirty and wrinkly and then I put them on and I went in and auditioned for him. And he said, "So, where are you from?" And I said, "Kentucky." He goes, "Okay, what town?" I said, "Murray, right between Possum Trot "and Monkeys Eyebrow." He goes, "You're lying." I said, "Why would I lie about that?" And he said, "Because I'm from Mayfield." Which is like 15 minutes from Murray. And that's where he grew up as a child. And so we made that little connection, which is almost impossible to find someone who is from that area of the country. So I ended up getting cast in that movie, which was My Own Private Idaho. I ended up getting cut from the feature film, but I've been the director's cut. (audience laughs) So I ended up doing several movies and TV shows and things like that. And when I reach the Bacon Number of three, everybody's heard of that, you know, the Kevin Bacon, the relation to different people, I figure that was it, you know, that's the top. Maybe I won't get an Academy Award, but I'll get a Bacon Number of three. So I thought I could safely retire. One thing that I noticed, when I, remember when I went to go to LA to become a star? Well, I started as a waiter and the realization that I really had while I was there was that I'm 100% dependent on others for work. So that was kind of a scary feeling. I wanted a little more control. And so I started a theater in LA called The Rita Hayworth Theater on Sunset Gower Studios. And that was purely selfish, it was to create work for myself, and I'd have casting directors come in, I'd have actors come in and audition for them and charge them, and so I made money. And that was when I was living in LA. When I was in New York I started playing on the streets, with a friend, Washington Square was the first place we played, and I remember putting my case out and I made 40 bucks in an hour. I thought, okay, this is good. And I started playing in clubs. And then started a production company in New York. So these were all ways to build work for myself. I don't even know if I knew the word entrepreneur at the time, but it was basically I didn't want to depend on others for work, but I wanted to pursue my passion of acting and music and all those things. I started writing, writing books and composing music and doing acting and all those things. And what happened was it started me down this entrepreneurial path and it also started this path of making connections. The realization that I had is that the way that I am, the way that I look is a brand. I think I realized that when I had long hair and then I'd shave it off and do all these different things, and you'd get different responses from people. When you run into people and you have, you know, if you have long hair and the way you dress and all that, they react to you differently than if you have short hair and wearing a suit. And I was always fascinated by that. It's like, wait, you know, I'm the same person. In fact I remember my dad, because I had long hair, an earring and all that stuff, and he'd go... He's fairly conservative and he'd see guys on the street like that and he'd be like starting to like think about them and he'd go, "Oh, wait, my son looks like that, you know, "he's a good guy, so that's probably a good guy, too." So I was always fascinated by that. And so as I started looking at branding, and I'll get in a moment how I made that transition from acting and all that to what I do now, but if you think of a place like a big-box retailer, like you know you walk into Costco or Sam's Club or any of those places. So you're walking in and you're looking for something. So you're wandering the aisles and you're looking for that one product, or you're just browsing down the pasta aisle or the cereal aisle and you're looking for something that catches your attention. So it's kind of like this. It's similar to being on a busy street. So if you're walking on a busy street and there's these streams of people coming towards you, you're looking for, say you don't know anyone, but you're looking for some glimmer of recognition, someone that might look sympathetic, empathetic. Someone that looks interesting. So you're drawn to certain people, and it's all by the way they look. That's the only way you can judge them because you don't know them yet, you haven't heard them talk or anything. So I was in New York and I get pictures taken of myself, of me all the time, you know, in the airport, walking down the street. I don't know why. (audience laughs) Get people coming up. Oh, in fact I was at this trade show yesterday and this woman came up to me and she said, "Hey, can I have your autograph?" She goes, "You must be someone famous." (audience laughs) Because the way I look or? So again, the way you look is very important. I thought it was fair game since people take pictures of me all the time, that I could take pictures of people, other people, so I just took these surreptitiously on the subway. And I thought, you know, every one of these people, if they could tell their story, if they had a card in front of them, you know, a hologram in front of them that told me their story, this is the only guy I could get to talk, you know, how interesting that would be. Really, like that big-box store when you're walking down the aisle looking for something, brands, products, things, services, websites, whatever it is that you're creating, those are like people. The only chance that you have to grab them is visually first, first of all. It could be words that you read on a website or something, but it's that first. All of us, we don't know each other, we're just seeing each other for the first time, and all of you out there, seeing you for the first time. So the only thing we can do is judge by the way we look. So I'm very aware of how I come across to people by my voice, my hair, my clothes, all those things. Even if you choose not to care about what you wear, that's a choice, as well. So same as a product as you're walking down those aisles and you're trying to decide what cereal to buy or soup to buy, you're looking for something that grabs you, that says, "Hey, pick me up and look at me." So that is the hardest thing for any brand, is to get that first take, that first touch, whether it's a website, you want them to click through, or it's on a shelf and you want them to grab it. As soon as you grab it, you're almost there, because they grab it and if you have enough interest there to hold my attention for a minute, I'll put it in my cart, my virtual cart online, or I'll put it in my shopping cart, and away I go. So I take it home. So it's kind of like a first date. If I see those people, you know, walking down the street and I go, "Hey, you look really interesting. "Hey, you want to go hang out for a while?" And if that pays off the promise, so that person looks interesting, or that product looks interesting and I take it home, and I go, "Hey, that wasn't bad." So it has to pay off on that promise, so you can, you have the razzle-dazzle to attract them, and the product, the service, the experience has to pay off on that, and they go, "Hey, that was nice. "I want to try that again, so I'll buy that thing again." And then I'll buy it again and again. And then pretty soon, you have a brand fan. You have someone who is with you for life, unless you do something stupid, and you have to stay relevant and all those things, of course. But that's how brands create fans. And we're gonna see lots of examples today on that. So a brand is kind of like a person. If you think of a brand as a person, they have a story. A good brand you can describe to someone in the same way if you have a good friend, or you met someone, you can describe them to someone, as well. You can describe the way they look, the way they talk, their values, their characteristics. So if you think of a brand as a person, it's very helpful. A brand's story is really who you are, is your brand story. And that's your values and characteristics and all those things, why you exist in the first place. Why are you here? Why did you walk in the room? What do you want? What do you want from me? That's your brand story. And then it has to be consistent on every level. So if you think of a friend of yours, let's say they are conservative or just strong values, all those things, and then all of a sudden a bunch of expletives come out of their mouth and it's just like, "What? What happened to you?" so that's not familiar. That is not the person that you know. Same thing with brands. Brands need to be consistent in the way that they act, the way they talk, the way they look. Doesn't mean it's cookie cutter. A brand identity are those things that are guardrails for that brand. So it's not identical, it's an identity. If you think of great brands, you can look at anything from the product to the print ad, to online experience, to walk into the retail space, and it all fits together. It all just feels right. Here's two examples. One is Apple is something that's a little more rigid. Everything looks more like each other. You think of the billboards you see, you see the print ads, you see the product, very clean, white, all that. But then think of Nike. So Nike's very different. Their communication is very different. Nike is more of a feel. It's an energy. It's about innovation and it's about athleticism, all that. So Nike is no less of a strong brand because of that, but it's a different approach. But Nike definitely has a brand look. They definitely have guardrails. They definitely have guidelines on how to execute that brand. So every part of your life, your brand life, you need to be consistent. It's about where you want to go with that brand. So you're starting off. You're working with a client, or you're an entrepreneur, you're starting your product, what's your one, three and five-year plan? Where do you want to go with this? A lot of brands, they get stuck into a little box because they said, "Here's our product and "we're gonna do this." Even the name, you know, it's something that's so restrictive it only describes that one product and it does really well, and then they want to grow. It's like, ooh, but the name sucks now, and all our communication's been just around this. So you need to think broadly. Where do you want to go with this? You have to be aspirational. Yes, it's going to be a successful, and what's the growth plan for that? Where do you want this to go? What other products or services do you want to fit under this? I love to do these little, it's like a bull's eye. You start here, this is the core, this is where we're gonna start, but we're gonna build out. And you have four or five or six rings, but they all have to go back. They all have to go back to that core. Why you started in the first place. What's your strength? What's your differentiation. And you can stretch out here, but everything has to tie back. And we'll see some examples of that. And then, who's your consumer? Who cares about what you're gonna put out there in the world? Why should they care? You need to look at competitors, as well. So who else is doing something like you, and how do you need to differentiate yourself so that consumers can describe you and find you. And then that emotional connection. Creating that emotional connection between consumers and brands is one of the hardest things to do, but it's the most powerful thing, because you're moving beyond a product or a service or an experience into a brand. Anyone can, with all the tools that we have now days, you know, you can print something out on your 3D printer and you can name it and you can put it out there in the world and sell it, but beyond that one thing, okay, that's cool, I'll buy it, but if I want to make that part of my life or I love that thing and I want to buy more of those things, what's the umbrella that they fit under, what is the brand umbrella? And creating that emotional connection. The mission of a brand is the reason why you exist. That's the business reason why you exist, and we'll see some examples of that. You know, you started this brand or the founder started this brand 100 years ago, or you're starting this brand for a reason. So what's your mission? My goal is to do this. And then the brand promise is, "I promise my customers "that they will what when they encounter this brand." So that's an emotional, that's emotional. The mission is business, the promise is emotional. Every time they encounter the brand, they will feel this, they will experience this. We'll see examples. And then the brand persona is your personality. It's like that brand is a person, your values, your personality, all those things. And then the five senses of your brand, what do you look like, smell like, taste like, sound like, feel like. Those are all those tangibles. You have a name, you have a logo, colors and type, photography, graphic elements, all those things. Those are the tangibles of your brand. That's how you're going to go to market with your brand and how you'll let them know who you are and what you have to offer them. Those are the tactics. So I have a product. I have a name, the way it looks, I've got the language I want to use. Okay, where am I now gonna tell that story? So those are all the different amazing resources we have now through social media. We have traditional advertising, of course, with the print, TV, radio, all those things. But we have events, retail, digital, all those different places. So those are all the places I'm gonna tell that story with all these tools that I have. And I know my purpose, because I have my mission. I know what I want them to feel, the brand promise. And that's how I'm gonna get them to create that emotional connection with me.

Class Description


  • Bring a unique human touch to a brand story
  • Define brand attributes, vision, and strategies for naming
  • Employ tactics to ensure brand consistency across all platforms


A great brand is the culmination of strategic thought, experience, and a little magic. It all results in a story that creates brand fans. A logo, a name and identity are starting points, but by themselves don’t create successful brands. Learn what it takes to build a lasting and meaningful brand in Branding Essentials for Designers with Stanley Hainsworth.

Stanley is the the former creative director at Nike, Lego and Starbucks and now founder of the multi-disciplinary creative juggernaut – Tether. In this class he teaches the role stories play in developing a strong brand identity and how to create a strategic roadmap for sharing a brand story with the world. You’ll learn tools and methodologies for creating brands that can be applied to projects of all sizes.

Through this class you’ll develop the skills you need to offer clients the complete package when it comes to branding – not just a logo. Deepen your branding know-how and infuse meaning into your design work with branding whiz, Stanley Hainsworth.


This class is for design professionals, entrepreneurs, startup founders, marketing and branding managers, and creatives interested in learning more about branding.


Underneath that highly unorthodox shock of follicular iconoclasm lies the turbocharged brain of a highly attuned branding machine. Stanley mastered the art of brand storycraft while serving as the creative-in-chief at three of the great brands of our time: Nike, Lego, and Starbucks, where he was VP of Global Creative during an era when the now-ubiquitous brand matured into the cultural icon we know today. His creative influence extended from products and campaigns to all consumer touch points. Prior to that, as Global Creative Director for the Lego Company in Denmark, Stanley directed a total visual overhaul of the brand, including advertising, interactive, packaging, retail and brand stores. At Nike, Stanley worked on everything from the Olympics to creating Nike Entertainment. He has written books on branding, is an educator, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and is a sought after speaker on branding and design worldwide. 

Connect with Stanly online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Huffington Post


  1. Personal Journey

    By telling his story, Stanley models personal branding in action - how did a small town western Kentucky boy come to realize that he, himself, was a brand? Stanley addresses the fundamentals here: what exactly is branding? How are brands like people? What are the key questions to ask when developing a brand?

  2. Defining the Brand: Nike

    How is joining a brand like joining a religion? What is the power of listening to the consumer? How do you set up a sell-out new product launch? Stanley takes you through his process in building a stand out brand as creative director at Nike: you get an inside look at his branding strategy that brought the original product line to the full 360-degree consumer experience it is today.

  3. Brand Visuals: Lego

    Stanley takes his personal brand to the next level and creates his own role at Lego. He explains the process of rebranding - taking a well known corporate brand beyond its logo - and the roles of a brand book, brand promise, and developing visual language in this process. He answers important questions: What is the relationship between the emotional and practical in successful branding? How do you develop a reciprocal relationship with your brand fans, or most loyal customers?

  4. Fine Tuning the Brand: Starbucks Part 1

    A good brand develops a “gut feeling” identity throughout the years; as a newcomer to a team, how do you learn this so-called “tribal knowledge”? What are brand guidelines and how are they essential to brand building? Stanley explains how to codify the ephemeral “feeling” of a brand in order to produce consistent brand messaging.

  5. Fine Tuning the Brand: Starbucks Part 2

    You’ve established brand guidelines and you’ve created a brand book; how do you use these tools to bring your brand to every touch point with a consumer? Look inside Stanley’s process of redesigning product packaging and his reasoning behind decisions made. Learn how to go beyond traditional ad campaigns to create a memorable brand experience with your customers - to deepen their emotional attachment.

  6. Building a Creative Environment

    The creative process gets messy in the best way - how do you create a work environment that fosters creativity? Why is it important that brand messages and core values are reflected in a workplace itself? Designers often work together across disciplines, but how do you involve executives in the creative process? From t-shirts to competitions and design camps, Stanley discusses how to cultivate creativity in the workplace.

  7. Inside Tether: Behind the Scenes Studio Tour

    Take an exclusive tour within Tether, Stanley’s own branding agency to see a real-life example of a creative playground. From big-name clients, to developing a new brand, to personal projects, Stanley gives you behind the scenes access.

  8. Brand Case Study: Gatorade

    How do you reposition a company to remain relevant in a shifting market? What do you keep, change, and enhance in your brand strategy? When do you listen to consumer feedback, and when do you just make decisions? Stanley models how to expand beyond a specific product to create a line of customer offerings.

  9. Brand Case Study: Awake Chocolate and Swans Island

    Coca-Cola and Pepsi rely on big name recognition, but what about the smaller players in more niche markets? In this class, Stanley demonstrates the power of effective product packaging coupled with strategic marketing. Learn creative ways to harness social media to not only advertise, but also drive public relations. This is Marketing Techniques and Brand Storytelling 101.

  10. Brand Case Study: The Grove School

    Tether brand manager Kari Strand outlines the process of a unique project: a new brand involving many stakeholders in students, families, the company,and its teachers as essentially brand ambassadors. From developing a brand name to a myriad of marketing materials, you’ll see multi-use touch points that not only communicate important brand messaging, but also represent the brand’s core values. Kari models how to develop common language to dialogue with potential customers.

  11. LIVE Brand Case Study: Live Love Snack

    How do you reposition a brand to enter the mass market? Tether designers take us deep into the world of product packaging: learn how to problem-solve and watch as their designs evolve with each iteration. The Tether team answers essential design questions: how do you lead an effective brainstorming process? How does narrative fit into design? Why is hierarchy of information important?

  12. LIVE Brand Case Study: Squatch Watch

    What does a multi-disciplinary approach actually look like inside a creative agency? The Tether team demonstrates the benefits of non-work order projects by participating in a soapbox derby.

  13. Evolution of a Brand

    Long-term success requires evolution. Learn about the power of storytelling and the role of compelling taglines in the evolution of BMW motorcycles and Keen footwear. How do you build upon an existing legacy to expand into different markets? You do you re-ignite brand buzz?

  14. Create Your Own Opportunities

    Stanley dips into the not-for-profit arena; what does branding for a cause look like? How do you create consistent identity throughout the many arms of an international organization? Stanley returns to an old pet project that stuck - a concept he couldn’t shake. He closes with an affirmation: trust your journey.


Lily Raz

Stanley's branding class was packed with so many actionable takeaways!! I learned so much about the thinking behind how branding is important for companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. One of the biggest things I learned was when he said describing a brand is like describing a person to someone. He talked a lot about the process that it takes to build successful brands and keep them true to their promise. I really loved when he did a tour of his agency Tether. This class is filled with lots of creative material and great energy. I definitely recommend it! Thank you Creative Live!!


I am LOVING this class. I have heard "brand" explained in a lot of different ways, but Stanley's metaphors and examples made such sense to me that I actually feel like I have a firm grasp of what it means, and how I can make my own. Describing and showing his process with various brands was especially helpful. I feel empowered and excited (rather than overwhelmed, nervous, or uncertain) about strengthening my brand. Without Creative Live, I would not be able to take a class from an expert like Stanley Hainsworth, so I am especially grateful for today's course. Thank You! - Alexis (a.k.a. Free Range Al)


He is fun and engaging... This class has given me a whole new perspective of how to build my brand and keep it consistent as I go. The videos he shows are soo fun, and they show off his great sense of humor, and fun personality!!