The ugly duckling

A branding parable


We all know the story of the ugly duckling who grew up into a swan – one of the most impressive and beautiful of all birds. When one of our clients told us she thought we’d been taking lessons from the story, it set us thinking.

If you look on Google images, you’ll find that a baby swan is in fact no uglier than any other duckling: they’re all just cute little fuzzy balls of feathers. There’s a point, though, when cygnets get a bit out of proportion, with big feet and a neck that’s too long and a beak that’s way too big; that’s probably when the other ducklings were making fun and chasing our hero away. At that stage, young swans are a sort of grubby grey, too, and it’s quite a while before they moult the dark feathers and transform into snowy adult beauties.

When your company started out, it wasn’t ugly: it was a beautiful idea with huge potential. But perhaps you didn’t have the money to spend on a full range of fancy collateral and professional branding. Maybe you settled for an inexpensive logo and got a friend to do your website, using a free template and clip art images. This is a familiar scenario for many start-ups and it’s a perfectly reasonable way to get a business up and going.

It’s time to shed the “adequate” and transform into something more mature and professional.

Maybe now, though, things are a little steadier and you’re finding the image you’ve got isn’t quite right anymore. Perhaps, too, there’s been a change in emphasis as you’ve adapted to clients’ needs, and your original expectations and business offering have shifted. Your business is growing and maturing and your brand image needs to reflect this. It’s time to shed the “adequate” and transform into something more mature and professional.

The baby swan wasn’t ugly; he just went through a patch when his image didn’t quite match what he was turning into, and he took a little while to discover his true value and personality. For him, the metamorphosis happened naturally as a simple matter of course. With a business, a transformation of this type won’t happen automatically, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult.

You know your business, your service and your product better than anyone, but it’s the job of your designer and marketing advisor to work with you to bring out that knowledge and understanding, to help you find your voice and style and tell your own story, making sure it’s presented in a way that does justice to your current situation and is a suitable foundation for future growth and progress.

It doesn't matter if you're born in a duck yard, so long as you are hatched from a swan's egg!
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling

So, if you’re ready to shed those old grey cygnet feathers and fly, to discover a new image that better suits who you are and where you are headed, get in touch!