How to Design a Brand Identity: Part 1
Branding forms a major part of all our projects, but the word gets used so often in conversation today it sometimes feels like it’s the catch-all term for all kinds of work. In reality when we undertake a brand identity project it is actually a very structured process. The nature of the work can be very enjoyable and engaging, so it’s important not to get distracted or drawn off course. To design, develop and refine an identity so that it can be applied effectively across all forms of communication and realised as a brand you need to make a series of very focussed and practical decisions. Each step will take things forward to realise a clear goal.
This is the first part of how we do it, and there will be further parts to come. With the benefit of experience it’s a process that can carry clients on an enjoyable and enlightening experience, and deliver fresh, original results.
Phase 1: Research, Brief, Definition
Do Your Homework
There’s no substitute for doing your research. A brief with no research is just assumption, and even with a bag full of experience that’s still only an educated guess. Whether it’s a team of one or a team of ten, the creative team need to have informed information (especially if it’s a branding project of some size), because that’s what they will rely one, what they will question, and what they will respond to.
A short brief is fine if it’s insightful and has the essential information that’s needed. But if not add more detail and additional information, you can’t have too much groundwork. Aim to have summaries for; target audience, competitor analysis, messaging objectives, core values, brand vision, key products/services. The big idea for the business and the personality that delivers it need to be attainable from this.
Also look to include the practical elements of the brief; budget, schedule, file formats and delivery requirements. Let the team know what’s needed and when.
Define The Brand Vision
The hard work starts with the vision. Before you start to look at the creative it’s important to encapsulate the vision of the business. Defining a brand by what it is may sound easy, but many clients describe themselves by what they’re not or how they differ to competitors. That’s not good enough for a brand vision. If you want people to engage with your brand it has to stand for something, so look to define what you represent.
We use several tools and methods to work through the definition process, but the results normally conform to the same principle. The proposition (the unique thing a company does) and the personality (how they deliver it to clients) combine to make the brand. So defining what you do and how you do it is the result needed.
Many companies will suggest they know their core values and the vision for their brand. But if they start by saying ‘We’re honest, professional… ‘ cut the conversation dead. Because everyone can start at that point, and this needs to get right under the skin to the very heart of what makes brands unique.
So think hard and think long. The better the vision, the better the branding. If you need a hand we’re always ready to help.