Maíra Rahme’s Story & Advice on Brand Creation for Entrepreneurs

 In Entrepreneurial Women, Entrepreneurs, Guest Blogs, Strategy, Thinking About

My name is Maíra Rahme and I am a designer, brand strategist, and facilitator from São Paulo, Brazil. I grew up in the very creative environment of a Waldorf School, and as a young adult, I chose to study design and branding. The reason why that attracted me was my love for storytelling; I love being able to express in creative ways the true essence of something, and I think both conceptual branding and visual design are able to tell stories of projects, products, services, and communities. A story well told has the power to reach right into the heart.

I was, however, unhappy with the traditional ways of branding and design, and ventured off to study Social Entrepreneurship in Sweden, at a program called YIP – Youth Initiative Program. That year gave me a beautiful experience of new ways of doing things, as well as a clearer understanding of the problems humanity faces, and during that time I further questioned my role as a designer in the world. How can I be a part of the solution, instead of creating more problems? It took me some courage, at the age of 22, to decide for myself that design and branding can deviate from the market mainstream, and play a role in helping organizations which are working on moving society towards ecological sustainability and enhancing the lives of human beings.

Upon returning to Brazil I was hired as a brand strategist at the award winning design and branding consultancy Tátil Design, which has a strong focus on sustainability and using branding to create Shared Value. I was a part a brilliant team that delivered big projects for Natura Cosmetics and the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee, but most importantly, while at Tátil I worked hard on evolving a concept and methodologies which we called Marcas Vivas, in which brands can generate sustainable value for people, businesses, and the planet in order to remain relevant and stay alive. Marcas Vivas was, in a way, my school for better understanding the role that branding can play in manifesting a deeper evolutionary purpose.

For the social entrepreneur, design and branding can sometimes seem dispensable, as it usually represents a time and financial investment that some founders are not ready to invest. However, from my years of experience working with startups and other initiatives in the field of sustainability and social change, I am convinced that having a clear identity – not only in terms of a logo but also a strong conceptual scope behind it – empowers people to better tell their stories and express their purpose. Even the exercise of condensing an entire business vision into a simple statement can do wonders and bring tremendous clarity to an entrepreneur trying to promote their idea.

A couple of years ago I left Tátil to pursue my own impulse in the world, which included time in San Francisco, a year in Sweden working at YIP (the school I mentioned before) and a year graduating from MSLS, or Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability in Karlskrona, where I currently live. After graduating, I started a tiny branding and design consultancy called Odd Yellow. Our focus is to help projects, organizations, and people working with environmental sustainability and human goodness to clearly distill their purpose and express it in conceptual and visual ways. I do that by blending traditional branding tools with my MSLS learnings, as well as other insights from the Theory U, Teal Organizations and Art of Hosting world.

In its two years of life, Odd Yellow has already served projects in a myriad of areas: projects addressing regenerative agriculture, initiatives for the well-being of social entrepreneurs and war journalists, innovation and sustainability workshops for girls and women, urban beehives,  schools fostering new forms of education and startups working to evolve organizational consciousness. Scale it Up! was one of my clients in 2016, and it was delightful to work together with them since I am a woman entrepreneur myself. Together we explored the concept of steps heading upwards, slightly uneven but all aligned, expressing an upwards journey. I was very pleased with the result.
If you are just starting as an entrepreneur, and you are starting to look into your branding, my tip to you is take some time to investigate your own project/business with new eyes and imagine many ways to describe it.

Why does it exist?

How would you describe it in one line?

What if you had to create a word-cloud with 10 keywords?

If it was a person, how would it be? What would be his/her personality? What would he/her be interested in?

And if it were an animal? How would it behave?

And if you had to describe your project to an alien who has just landed on earth and knows nothing about the human world, how would you make it easy for the alien to understand it?

These exercises are not only fun, but they also help us break free from the linear and concrete identity we have, unconsciously, already given to our project. Exploring these subtle storylines can help you reach a much bolder conceptual foundation, and might even give you insights you weren’t expecting.

I hope these tips serve you in creating amazing work in the world.

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