What does the branding design process look like?
Branding is everything. The right brand can make a huge impact on your bottom line. Successful companies the world over know this. Get the brand right, the message right, and your advertising and marketing will land and the sales will follow.
Get it wrong and… well expect very little.
It’s a science, it’s a mix of science and creativity, this branding thing. A science that has a process that works. We didn’t build this science, but we abide by its rules!
We’re often asked: “What does the brand design process look like?” so it felt like a good time to share what’s involved with creating a new visual brand.
Grab a cuppa (or G&T depending on the time of day) and sit back and relax. Here’s what the design process looks like and why it’s important to follow it.
Firstly, there are some key stages to any branding work.
- Initial scoping meeting
- Full brand proposal
- Strategic work
- Branding report
- Brand proposition
- Design research
- Presentation to the senior team
- Development of ideas
These are the key areas we follow when undertaking any work with a client (new or current) and they’re like our commandments; our framework to any branding work. Sometimes but not always, they may appear in a different order!
Let’s take a look at each stage and then explain their importance so you get to understand what the branding process is all about….
What does each stage look like?
Initial scoping meeting
It all starts here. We sit down, chat about the weather and the journey to the meeting (how very British!) and then we get down to the crux of it.
The initial scoping meeting is where we’ll talk about your business, your vision, your aims and the purpose of the business, and the brand you’re looking to create.
Most importantly we’ll try to nail down why you’re different from others in your field so we can price the branding work and determine what ‘dig deep’ work we’ll need to do to get a success for you as a client.
Full brand proposal
After we’ve digested all the notes from the initial meeting we’ll send over our thoughts and visions for the work and give you a full brand proposal which outlines exactly what, why, where, and when – with an outline of the investment.
More often than not we then need to build in some time to work with the senior team in your business to work out exactly what you’re trying to achieve with the brand. This isn’t your thing, it’s ours – and we’re very conscious that we need to get this right from the off. Why are you different? Why do people choose you? Who are you? What do you stand for and what’s the intended brand message?
This stage is sooo important to really draw out the essence of the company and create something that makes you stand out. This strategic work can be short or long depending on each client’s needs.
Never drive blind. You shouldn’t consider creating a brand without looking at the market and finding out what’s already out there, who the audience is, what drives them, and what messages are likely to grab their interest.
Depending on what you know already it’s sometimes necessary to conduct some research (quantitative and qualitative) to find out where you are now and where you want to be.
And then we wrap it all up in a report to show the findings from all the essential work carried out so far. It might sound like a lot of faffing but it’s essential to a good brand and when you skip the steps it rarely works.
The conclusions of all the strategic work and what needs to be done will be included in the report so everyone knows what we’ve got and where we’re going. This is also hugely helpful later down the line when you’re planning your marketing.
And then we get to it. The brand proposition will show and state who you are, why you’re different and what the brand will need to convey. This is just as important as the colours and images. Honestly!
Then we’ll move onto researching the competition in greater detail than previously (this would have come up in the strategic stage) to make sure we’re not about to blend in with someone or look similar to them. With all the inspiration out there online, the TV, on the road, on your phone, it’s easy to be planted with an idea that’s not come from your deep dive, but actually from something that already exists.
This research ensures you don’t accidentally blend in with what’s already out there… what a waste of time that would be!
Then we’ll have a full briefing session with the design team, based on what’s been uncovered in the strategic work. This can be a short process or a longer process, depending on the size of your business and there’s no real rule here. This can’t happen without the above. The creative just doesn’t work effectively without all the work that precedes it.
Presentation to the senior team
And then it’s crunch time! We take our concept and present it to the senior team with full rationalised explanations as to why we have created what we’ve created. This will involve a recap on the findings so far, what we found in the market place, and what we feel is the brand and message that will deliver the visions and goals for the project.
Development of ideas
We’ll take any feedback from the presentation meeting and then move onto the development of ideas with the feedback from you, the client. You’ll note that the work takes a while to get to and we’re still re-working even after all that research and deep dive work.
This is normal as it’s often tough for you as the senior team to ‘visualise’ the brand concept without seeing it and then you have some more input to give us. Don’t forget you need to look at the concepts from the shoes of your ideal client.
Hooray! You love it, of course. Sign off happens, and then we move onto brand guidelines and handover. Then it’s over to you to implement your stunning new visuals. Or us if you want it done well! Hohoho
The common issues and how to avoid them…
The branding process might look like a long, drawn out affair but our results speak for themselves. Without all this work, the final brand lacks substance and clarity and the messages doesn’t land. Yes, you can get a logo on Fiver but that’s not going to work for your business if you have standards, I’m afraid!
It’s essentially a waste of time doing it if you skip the steps.
We see some common issues that cause the branding process to go off piste and here are the most common:
We don’t want the strategic work – just get on with the visuals…
Some companies don’t want to do the strategic work. They see this as pointless, time-consuming, and some think we’re only doing it to charge them more money. They just want the pretty pictures and the exciting part.
That’s understandable, but it means their new brand will lack substance and won’t make its mark in the world and this means a lack of results for them. We have to stand our ground on this one at times!
They won’t stand in their customer’s shoes…
Clients need to view the visuals standing in the shoes of their clients in order to make a comment that is not biased. It’s all too easy to give your opinion on a new brand and not the opinion of your customers; the people for whom it matters. You are not your intended audience.
Getting into the shoes of your client (or not) can make or break this key stage.
“We don’t want research – just get on with it!”
Uh oh… they want to drive blind. When we hear that they don’t see the need for research, we brace ourselves for a mini battle. It is important and it is essential to the final success of the campaign.
“We’ll skip the brand guidelines, thanks!”
One BIG reason a re-brand won’t work is the final piece of the puzzle. When the client doesn’t see the need for guidelines, it’s a warning sign that the brand won’t be used and shared in the right way and this will undo so much of the good work carried out so far. Again we’ll try to educate and explain why they’re incredibly important.
Why is a strong brand so important?
We’re bound to thing a strong brand is powerful – it’s what we do. After all this work you might be thinking it’s a lot of work for little reward. but you’d be mistaken.
We feel that there are eight benefits to a strong brand, and these are:
- Customer recognition
- Customer loyalty
- Brand equity
- Attracting new talent
- Allowing shared values
- Added confidence.
You really can’t put a price on those resulting benefits of a good, strong brand. Although… we do, and we’d love to chat with you if you’d like a new brand.
Branding is a big process and we hope you can see why it takes time and money to create a truly memorable brand.
If you’d like to chat to us about your new brand then please do contact us now and we’ll get our heads together.
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