I’ve started my career in branding a long time ago when I haven’t even had a clear idea of what it means. Back then I was working as an in-house graphic designer and was starting getting an idea what it is all about.
I travelled a long way to be where I am right now. I understood the meaning of well-designed brand identity, found out what is crucial for the successful project and developed my own process that helps me and my clients achieve the goals.
While every designer has a different way of dealing with a project I decided to explain how it works in my case.
I make sure my clients are well informed, know what’s coming next and what to expect.
Brand, brand identity, branding – what’s the difference?
Let’s start from clearing it up. A brand is a promise that your company gives to the audience. It’s how people feel about your products, what they say about it when you’re not around. Creating a strong brand takes time and effort. To win people’s loyalty you need to connect with them. To do it you have to show them why they should care.
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.
~Seth Godin (more)
Brand identity is the visual aspect of your brand. Identity is how you show your brand to the world. In this case, design is involved. Designers goals are to tell a story about your brand in the way that it connects and represents what your customers seek. Understanding their needs and their fears is crucial to creating a design that will resonate with your target group.
So what’s branding, you ask?
Branding combines brand identity and strategy to create a comprehensive image and spread awareness about the brand. While brand elements such as logo or colours are an identification of the brand, branding is consistent communication, a process that will help you to create a strong brand and distinguish it from your competitors.
While brand identity is mostly visual aspect of your brand, branding is a process. To create a strong presence you need to connect all the dots and create a clear message that will resonate with your audience. Branding connects your strategy, mission, values and visuals in one comprehensive and consistent image.
Why do you need branding?
There are many reasons while you should think to invest in branding or at least brand identity. Even when you have a clear idea about your brand, not everyone else has to feel the same. To elevate your business to another level you have to be laser focus, know your goals, be sure about what your audience needs and be real about promises you make to them.
Branding helps you to communicate this message, makes it understandable. It also helps you to break through the noise and be recognizable. While being consistent is one of the main principals of branding, putting it all together will help you to follow the rules and remember about priorities.
(Not so) basic branding package
When I started working on brand identity a few years ago I was focusing mostly on visual parts of the process. I was, of course, trying to justify my design decisions and give the work deeper meaning, but I often felt misunderstood. I was spending endless hours discussing visual details and personal preferences.
Took me a while to understand what I do wrong and how to fix it. Only when I extended my service and offered basic discovery sessions I could go deeper. I developed a totally new process that was a game changer for me and my clients.
I believe that there are few elements of successful collaboration when it comes to branding and these are:
- Be clear about the scope of work – I always send a clear message about what I’m going to provide, how the process looks like and what is included. How many revisions we have and how long the whole process will take;
- Be honest with the price – I ask my clients about the budget in front and I have a fixed price for a basic branding package. Knowing the cost upfront is especially important for people who just start with their business and their budget is super tight;
- Listen and ask – before I even start the design process I listen to my clients. I let them talk because this is when I can learn the most. Many people have a clear vision about their business and for me, it’s important to respect that;
- Diving deeper – the information my clients provide is only a beginning. I like to discover what is out there. Being objective helps me to show the brand in a new perspective and maybe find out things that will help them to go beyond their vision;
- I design emotions – I try to show emotions not only a group of visual elements. Brand identity has to show the feelings, connect with the audience and resonate with their desires. I start designing with a story in my head. A story that makes the heart beat a little bit faster.
The process step by step
Before design starts
- Listen and learn – I work with my clients remotely so depending on their preferences we meet on Skype or we exchange emails. Sometimes I sent a question and I ask about the company, products, mission, story and so on. I try to get as many information as possible;
- Research and discovery – I try to find out more. It’s important to know the market and target group. So I dive deeper and find out all the details I can. I organize them in detailed prospectus. The elements I focused the most are: characteristic of the market (trends, competitors, predictions), audience (who they are, what they need, what they fear), brand mission and values (I try to find the values that resonate with the target group and understand how the brand can help them solve the problem)
- Gathering all information – presentation – I divide a presentation into several chapters. That becomes a base for the design process.
- Mood boards – a visual representation of the ideas – I gather as many references as possible. I make sure the ideas resonate with the previous stage and represent a mission included in the brief. I usually create 3 mood boards showing three different directions. That include colours, typography, style of logos. Mood boards often include elements that are not necessarily connected to the industry but they show the character and feelings; Usually, a client chooses one concept and we can move to the next stage;
- Logo and key visuals – Usually After choosing one direction and come up with 3 different propositions of a logo. I make sure it is presented it in a wider context. I use ready mockups or designs and modify them to show a general idea. These are not ready designs but they play an important role. They help to make a customer fall in love with the logo and the idea.
- Brand identity materials – Because of the efficient process, we already know the tone of voice of communication and basic style that goes well with a chosen logo. So we can proceed with materials and we are sure they going to be consistent.
- Brandbook – final phase is gathering all the elements – copy, ideas, communication strategy, information about audience etc. and of course final designs. The brand book shows the general rules of creating designs so in the future they will stay consistent.
After the process all the clients are provided with:
- logo design – vector and raster designs in all colour versions;
- 3 materials of their choice, ex. business cards, posters, web banner (websites are not included);
- brandbook that shows a brand’s mission, values, target group and design rules.
If you’re still not sure you’re company needs a designer and brand identity, contact me. I will help you to make the right decisions.
Hi, my name is Magdalena. Brand designer and strategist with a passion for creative thinking, travels, and coffee. I'm inspired by new challenges and everyday life. I observe, read and listen. That's how I learn and gain experience to use it in my works.