leonardo da vinci

If you ever feel like you really accomplished something, you can always head on over to Leonardo da Vinci’s Wikipedia page to be put back in your place. The first couple of lines rattle off a long list of accomplishments: painter, sculptor, inventor, and anatomist are ones we all know. But geologist, cartographer, musician, and writer, too?!

Let’s take a closer look at the wealth of experience and activity found in da Vinci’s 67 years on earth…

Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

Great brands can intuit the needs of their consumers before they even exist. Google is a terrific example, conceptualizing and floating ideas likeGoogle Glass long before the real demand for the technology arises.

Over 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci was doing the same thing in his own way. da Vinci drew up plans for machine guns, parachutes, and armored cars centuries before they were viewed as necessities – or even desirables – by others around him.

Today your brand may be trying to just get a website up and running. As you consider more long-term goals, think about building your brand by anticipating your customers’ needs – albeit a lot easier said than done. Many major retailers, from Sears to Oldsmobile have failed in this arena. Anticipate your customers’ needs by harnessing current technologies and concepts and then applying them in the new ways your audience will want (à la Steve Jobs).

Do Things the Right Way

Can you imagine how the Ritz-Carlton would have turned out if they had told employees, “Do anything a guest asks – unless you think they’re asking for too much”?  We probably wouldn’t be talking about them today.

When building your brand, it’s crucial that you’re committed to your core principles and diligent about getting all the details right. Sometimes getting those details perfect takes time. Just ask Leonardo da Vinci, who, according to legend, spent ten years painting the Mona Lisa’s lips.

Also, if something wasn’t working for him, da Vinci had no reservations about trashing it. Though his surviving output is by all means prolific, Leonardo da Vinci destroyed an astonishing amount of his own artwork that didn’t live up to his perfectionist standards. Do you hold your brand to the same standards of integrity? Or are you willing to let things slide?

Creativity Is Work

Creativity isn’t something that flutters by and occasionally alights upon us. I’m not much for the “muse theory.” Instead, I believe that creativity is hard work that requires discipline and perseverance. I’ve written about Faulkner’s take on the subject of inspiration, creativity, and discipline, and I’d wager that da Vinci would be of a similar persuasion.

Leonardo da Vinci famously kept a notebook with him at all times so that he could sketch and write down questions and observations about the world around him. Many of these field notes had to be hacked away at in order to produce his creative works and the inventions that we now recognize today.

How much creative work are you willing to put into  branding your business?

Like these tips? You might like Branding Tips from Andy Warhol, too. What other tips can you glean from Leonardo da Vinci?