Whenever a new branding project is launched, what people mostly get to see is the end result – a new brand identity and its application across a variety of brand touchpoints, such as a website, business stationery or signage.
But what actually happens behind the scenes? How do designers and copywriters get to the shiny end result? Well, it’s not magic. It’s a meandering creative process that takes time. To help you better understand what happens, we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at our work process, from brief to finalised concept.
What is a brand identity?
Brand identity design refers to the creation of a variety of assets that help companies build a memorable look, sound and feel for their brand. Usually, visual brand identity assets include a company logo, a colour scheme, a typeface or typefaces, a suite of photographs as well as a range of illustrations, icons or other supporting graphic elements.
Often overlooked, but of equal importance, are a brand’s verbal identity assets which include the company name, slogans taglines, the core brand story and tone of voice guidance.
It all starts with a clear brand positioning
Each of our branding projects starts with research and discovery into our client’s organisation. We conduct interviews and surveys with the leadership team, staff and customers, and take a close look at their competitors.
This provides the relevant information and insights to create a focused brand positioning that defines who you are, what you stand for, how you differentiate from your competitors and who you want to engage with.
Without this clear strategy in place, a designer or copywriter doesn’t really know which defining features, attributes and aspects of business to express through visuals and words to build the all-important associations that make a brand come to mind.
Putting pen to paper to design a logo
We literally start by putting pen to paper and doodle, sketch, and draw any logo idea that comes to mind. At this point, no idea is bad, we just let it flow – often filling pages and pages of logo ideas. We then pick the strongest and most distinctive ideas and draw, iterate and refine them digitally.
In most cases we will create a variety of logo options to keep the logo’s use as flexible as possible, especially when being used in small or confined spaces or when being used in black on white or in single colour on images or other colours.
Typeface auditions and tone of voice
Parallel to sketching logos, we start researching typefaces. We look through hundreds of fonts and typefaces and create shortlist of those we feel could best capture the brand personality we are creating.
We audition and test our shortlist until we find the right one(s). It may sound nerdy, but every detail counts! Type carries your words, so finding the right ‘container’ for your words helps to enhance your message.
The visual identity design goes hand in hand with verbal identity work. Based on the brand strategy, we craft the core brand story, a distinctive tone of voice, and develop key messages, taglines or slogans that build the foundation for any type of communication.
Colour palette, graphics and imagery
Colours are what our brain perceives first, which makes them a very powerful asset of each brand identity. We carefully compose colour schemes that are relevant to our client’s business – and if possible – different to immediate competitors. And we always make sure that they pass website accessibility guidelines.
To make a brand identity as unique as possible we always recommend creating a suite of brand photography that includes headshots, product images and impressions of the client’s space and environments and interaction with customers. We usually create mood boards, liaise with a photographer as well as arrange and art direct the shoot.
Icons, illustrations and other supporting graphics, such as background patterns, gradients, textures or simple shapes add an additional layer of recognisability to your branding. Icons are usually a great way to visually distinguish between different services in a product portfolio, especially if there are a variety of different products and services or if services seem too ‘abstract’ to customers.
Testing and iterating the full concept
Once, we’ve created all brand identity elements we check if the logo, colours, typefaces, taglines, as well as other graphics interact in harmony with each other. The full identity concept is then tested and refined with the help of mock ups, such as business stationery, signage, posters, webpages, etc to make sure all assets work.
Throughout the process we keep going back to the brief to make sure we are creating the right look, sound and feel for our clients’ business. With the brand identity concepts built, we present them to our clients and talk them through our creative decision-making process.
To prevent a concept from being judged by personal taste, we always connect the rationale behind our designs to the brand positioning. We invite our clients’ feedback by asking whether the design and tone of voice fulfills the brief and ‘translates’ the strategy into the right look, sound and feel.
How is your business seen and understood?
Is your business seen and understood by your audience as you intend it to be? If it’s not quite hitting the mark, we can help. Get in touch to discuss how you can better and more consistently communicate with your customers and prospects through a clear brand positioning and a consistent sound, look and feel.