My wife Beth has some tattoos, a few different styles, added at different times, and scattered about. One cluster she wasn't happy with anymore. She decided to join them together into a single design that was unified and had continuity. 

In the tattoo world, they call this a “cover-up”. But obviously you can’t just start over with a clean slate. You have to incorporate the old designs into the new one in order to hide them.

It’s complicated, expensive and it takes far longer to do than the original. Meaning even more time under the needle. Ouch.

I’ve been working with a entrepreneur who realized the brand presence they have is a bit of a mess. They had developed it piecemeal, designing new elements as they were needed. But as it became larger, the brand became scattered.

As we worked to clarify his brand strategy and create an cohesive design system, it struck me that branding is a lot like tattooing. It’s far better to think it through and make the investment than to cobble it together bit by bit. 

Because doing a brand cover-up hurts.