My 4 Step Process To Creating A Strong Brand
Creating a strong brand is about building a visual concept and executing it consistently. Today’s post is going to show you how I outline the process of creating those visuals, so let’s start off with a basic overview of the design/branding process. In it’s most basic form, it goes something like this:
collect info → process it → translate it → review + revise → repeat
Over the lifetime of creating a brand identity, you’ll have different objectives that you apply this process to:
01 | ONBOARDING
This is where the client onboards the designer and provides the information needed to establish the premise of his/her business, but it's up to you as the designer to draw out the right information. You could say that this step is actually the true brand development - everything else is just visuals created from that brand message!
As I said, as the designer it’s your job to draw out the right info. Your clients aren’t always going to know the correct thing to tell you or the most productive/efficient way to think about things, which is why you need some tools in place to help your client along (I like to make this part of the process easy for my client by having him/her answer my 3 part questionnaire and utilizing Pinterest to gather inspiration images).
After the client returns their “homework”, I like to make separate notes of things that stand out to me and seem important to the brand. Then I check in with the client to make sure I’m processing it correctly. Asking very specific questions about the business’s mission, target customer and business model helps make sure I'm on the right track.
For example: “So, based off of your questionnaire answers, your target audience is primarily made up of edgy 20-32 year old women who love eating healthy and making an effort to live an active lifestyle. You want to become a resource to these women via your upbeat and detailed blog posts, personalized consultations and one-on-one training sessions - is this correct?”
Reviewing the information you've collected and processed with your client helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and can help move the project along.
02 | CREATING THE INSPIRATION BOARD
Once you nail down your client’s goals and objectives, you can use imagery to start building the visual components that reflect that mission, which is also a regular part of my client homework. I like to implement an inspiration board to reference throughout my projects to make sure I’m staying on track with the visuals.
After creating the initial board I like to check my brand notes and ask the client for feedback. Usually just making a small change here or there can totally transform the feel of the inspiration board and really open up the doorway to creating the visuals needed in the next step of my process.
03 | CREATING THE BRAND ASSETS
And now we finally get to the part that most people think of when they hear the words “brand identity”! We all know by now though that this can only be started after the grunt work of collecting information and going through a couple rounds of processing and asking for feedback has happened.
For this part of the design process I personally like to get away from my computer, which is something I think is SO important for graphic designers to do (more on that for another day). I usually spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours just sketching out logo ideas. I look at my brand notes and reflect on the inspiration board too, but I spend most of this time just playing around with lettering and shapes, then eventually start building out digital versions on my computer.
When approaching my clients with initial logo ideas I think it’s important to offer a few different distinct concepts, making sure they all lend themselves to the business’s mission and vibe. Again, after presenting I'm looking for specific feedback so that I can process and make revisions accordingly. It’s even more important to get the right kind of feedback at this point so that you aren’t spending countless hours making tiny changes, only for it to still not feel right to your client.
After the questionnaire, brand notes, inspiration board and primary logo have been approved, it’s time to create the supplemental assets! These include brand colors, fonts, icons, patterns, secondary logos, etc. You’ll want to incorporate client feedback and approval for all of these items as well, then move on to the website and other marketing collateral which - you guessed it - will also go through the review / revise process until it's perfect!
04 | CREATING THE WEBSITE AND MARKETING COLLATERAL
You already know how important it is to have a clear focus and relevant visuals for a brand, but what do you do after you have the mission statement, logo and brand colors picked out? You put that brand identity to work for you!
You incorporate it into your website, your facebook page and your business cards. You incorporate it into how you write your blog posts, how you respond to emails, your email signature, your about page text, your about page photo, your instagram photos, your instagram captions, your tweets, how you style your contracts and invoices, your blog sidebar, your newsletters, so on and so forth. You filter everything you do through that brand message and identity.