If you start working with a designer to brand or rebrand your business and they don’t ask you many questions before they begin, be worried.
While you might be pleased they’re getting on with the job and not wasting time, this is a false economy. Why? Because if they’re not trying to find out more about you, your business and your customers, they stand little chance of getting it right.
Let’s be clear on brand identity
First of all we should get one thing straight: you cannot graphically design a brand. A brand is the intangible relationship between you and your customers or clients. It’s what they think about you and how they feel about you.
Neither can you design branding. This is about strategy and deciding on how this relationship will look and how you will achieve it.
What you can design is your brand identity. But what is brand identity?
Based on strategy, it’s the visible face of your business that helps communicate your values, services, ideas and personality to your customers.
While this should be expressed business-wide, from how you deal with customers to your office culture, a big part of your brand identity is your marketing visuals – your logo, colour palette, typography and other graphical elements.
Getting this right is down to both your brand designer, and you.
Attractive design just won’t cut it
Because brand identity should be based on strategy, just making your graphic elements look great won’t do.
While a designer can quite easily put an attractive looking logo together with very little background information, if their design decisions are not guided by you, your business, your market and your customers, your brand will more than likely flop.
This is why any brand designer worth working with will ask you lots of questions – as well as do their own market research. They need to understand your background and goals before they start so that what they create stands out in your market, resonates with your customers and accurately reflects who you are.
If you have a visual concept in mind, certainly let them know, but if it’s not based in strategy don’t get too precious. Let the designer use their experience and your knowledge to get it right.
Questions your brand designer should be asking:
- Who you are and what you do – size of your company, how long you’ve been in business, how you began, what your product or service is, what your customers say about you, what you love about your company, what you’re proud of
- What the scope of your project is – what you require, why you’re branding/re-branding, what materials you’ll be using your branding on, what files you’ll need, what your budget is, when your deadline is
- Who your audience/customers are – what your typical customer looks like, their age, gender, employment, likes/dislikes, what other businesses they use, how often they buy your product or service
- Who your competitors are – why they’re your competition, what you offer that they don’t, what your unique selling point is
- What tone or image you want to portray – whether you want to be seen as high-end or budget, techy or earthy, casual or formal, how you want to be perceived e.g. dominant, approachable, colours/fonts/images you like/don’t like
- What your ultimate goal is – grow client base, raise awareness, how you’ll measure the success of the branding
- What your current logo/material looks like – why it isn’t working anymore, why it needs changing
Your answers should guide their decisions
From colours and fonts to spacing and images, a good brand designer will use your answers to inform the choices they make.
Picking the right colours is extremely important because of the ability colours have to evoke emotion. Here are some examples:
- Red: power and passion
- Blue: loyalty and tranquillity
- Green: affluence and nature
- Orange: energy and excitement
- Purple: wealth and creativity
- Black: formality and elegance
When selecting a colour palette, your designer should be taking your audience demographics, their cultural environment and your industry into account.
Similarly, your typeface can speak volumes about who you are and what you want to communicate to your customers. Italic and handwritten imply traditional whereas clean and simple say modern.
In terms of layout, a minimalistic design with plenty of white space shouts contemporary and forward-thinking. And when it comes to images, bold and relevant is a good choice for most audiences today.
The result: brand success
All these stylistic decisions matter and will make a difference to the effectiveness of your brand. So, if your designer starts asking you lots of questions or wants you to fill in a brief, don’t see it as a chore or an indicator they don’t know their stuff. It’s quite the contrary.
Ultimately, the more information you give your brand designer at the beginning the less changes will be needed at the end, and the more successful your branding exercise will be.