Why is this business called DressCode Shirts? Simple, we're all about dressing you in the beautiful code that's behind all our digital devices and more. We love tech and wanted to share that passion with other people, wearing our hearts on our sleeves.
Producing work for yourself is always difficult. For some crazy reason, we’re often our self-imposed, harshest critic. So when it came to naming and branding the shirt business that I was developing, I knew I had a tough job ahead of me.
Ideas were flowing, I’d noted down a few words and phrases that I liked but I needed to check out the competition. Find out what other people were using and see if there was a place for me amongst them.
So I took my list of potential names/themes, which was growing nicely at the time, and start adding the words shirt onto the end to see what came back from some online searches. This quickly highlighted where there were conflicts and where there were opportunities. This part of the brand development process always fascinates me, it’s a real melting pot of thoughts, as work up previous thoughts, the results that you see inevitably spark other ideas and concepts, whether they’re right or wrong it’s hard to say at this point, the important thing is to get everything down (on paper), as you never know what other thoughts might be sparked from what you’ve already considered. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong, it’s all swirling around and mixing itself up and I love this part of the process.
Inevitably the list grows and contracts several times over the weeks, as the list gets shorter I start checking Companies House to see if there are an conflicts there. The two most important parts of any new brand/business are the domains and company registration. If you find that someone else has either of these and they’re operating within your sector, step away, the chances are they’ve protected their assets and all your hard work will be in vein.
Coming back the original question, why DressCode? I’ll be honest, one of the other things I do during the brand development process is start saying the words out loud, working them into fictional sentences, statements. I’m looking to find something that sounds natural, fits with my vocabulary and use of language and something that other people will understand quickly. DressCode was one of those that just felt right as I said it out loud to myself.
As a designer I love to engage people and take them on a journey, for me the greatest brands in the world are so simple graphically, yet they remian multi layered in what they express and say. Take Fedex for example, that arrow is priceless, a lovely element that some will see straight away, others will notice over time. That’s what I want in my work, strong messages with subtle depth and deeper meaning, hence DressCode – it literally dresses people in the code that they love, that we all use everyday within our devices. It’s also the default term for any event, where a dresscode is often referred to, I figured that those two things within a business making shirts based on tech patterns was pretty strong.
After a couple of weeks I was pretty happy with the name, I didn’t have a definitive look for it yet, again there were ideas, nothing was ruled in or out, it was all pretty fluid. I’d tried the name out on a few friends and got good feedback so my next call was to a Trademark Attorney to see what was involved with registering the name.
Depending on what you’re doing and what your end game is – ‘cause knowing this at the start is really, really important – will determine whether you register and protect your brand name. At the end of the day it’s an asset of the business, but if it’s not protected then someone else can simply help themselves to some of that pie you’ve been making for what feels like forever. My top tip, once you’ve got a name that you like, that’s clear of any competitors and you’ve got some good domains, protect it.
As if to prove this point, the whole application and registration process takes around 3 months, and just 6 weeks after my registration was complete and water tight, there was someone, with a similar idea looking to register the name. Here’s where the investment starts to pay you back, first of all I’m notified of the potential threat to my registered brand, then in two emails I can contact the potential trespasser, copycat…call them what you like, and outline what I have registered and where the conflict of interest arises. And in the second email, wish them well as they go to look for another name for their business.
I knew the name was strong, which is more than half the branding battle. Now I needed a visual expression that complimented it, something that my audience would know and understand immediately, something that would be instantly recognizable and be applied to all manner of objects in all kinds of places. Not an easy task, but in this case, and remember I’m working for myself here as client and designer, so ultra critical, with a few days scribbling I had some strong contenders. The pointy brackets idea had come quite quickly and was refined over a couple of weeks into what you now see. (For anyone reading who doesn’t know anything about code and programming, these < > are used to hold each command within the code of many of your devices, the internet…just about every digital device – just saying.)
As I’ve already said, I’m a fan of simplicity and clarity. The >< gave me that and a lot more. If gave me the basis of a pattern that could be applied across pretty much anything. It gave me an icon for all kinds of digital media and it was new - different from anything that had gone before – believe me, I did extensive research.
So there it is, that is why DressCode looks the way it does and a bit about where the name came from in the first place. Now both the name and the identity are registered and protected, as are the shirt designs. I have a vision for the DressCode business and that vision involves growing, learning and developing with the help of others, if I’m to get the ‘others’ that I’d like from my wish list, having a strong brand, that’s been protected and registered sets the tone for my professionalism and the professionalism of DressCode and the products we make. I hope that you like it as much as I do.
Ok, I’ll admit that I like the name and the identity, but in my eyes this will always be work in progress. I believe my role as a designer is to keep pushing, testing the boundaries and trying new stuff. The day I sit back and say that I have achieved perfection or that this is the best of my ability, that’s the day that I should stop designing, put down my tools and walk away. Maybe this comes back to that inner voice that I spoke about at the start? I believe a considerable part of my personal success with my branding business over the past 21 years is my ability to adapt…reinvent, reinvigorate and keep pushing forward.
Will the look of DressCode change? Time will tell, I remain open minded, fluid, preferring to keep the mixing pot stirring, seeing what comes to the surface next.