Every brand designer has a framework when it comes to the branding process, so it’s key to find out how they approach it and most importantly, how it will benefit your company.
Branding doesn’t have to be daunting and excessive. It should be tailored to each business to produce the most effective result – one of the biggest reasons I don’t offer branding packages.
As a brand identity designer, it’s my job to make sure the branding process is kept as simple and jargon–free as possible, so I make sure I understand the needs early on to keep the process productive, creative and focused.
What is the branding process?
The branding process is a combination of strategic thinking, creative problem–solving and visual exploration.
Yep, you’ve heard it before – it involves more than creating a logo. And it really does. It means considering all of your brand touchpoints to make sure they all look, feel and sound like your brand.
Brand touchpoints include your email newsletters, social media, website, direct mail, booking systems, and anything else your customers might experience when interacting with your company.
As an overview, the branding process typically includes:
- Assessing business goals – short and long-term
- Diving into the brand DNA – the what, why and how
- Figuring out the audience
- Conveying all of this visually – logo, website, print, packaging, etc.
Do I need branding?
There are many reasons you might go through a branding process. You may want to:
- Align your visual appearance (logo, printed collateral, website, etc.) with who you are and what you stand for
- Reposition yourself in the market to target a different audience
- Give your audience a better first impression of your brand
Whatever your goals, branding could help get you where you’re heading.
So, here’s the 6-Step Studio Grace branding process.
- Strategy Sprint
- Design Exploration
After receiving an enquiry, I’ll set up a meeting to get to know you and ask questions about your business and requirements.
Along with the typical budget, timeline and requirements questions, other questions I like to ask are:
- Have you worked with a creative agency before?
- What’s the benefit of going through this process?
- Do any other marketing activities rely on the completion of this process?
This gives me a full 360° view of your business, requirements, and expectations of Studio Grace.
After our meeting or call, I’ll collect any brand documentation you’re happy to share to that shows your current position and perform a top–level audit. This helps me understand what’s required to get from A to B. I look at your:
- Internal documents such as your brand strategy, identity guidelines, process templates (if relevant)
- Online presence (website, social media, SEO etc.)
- Current brand identity or visual elements you use
- Engagement and responses (blog, social media, forums etc.)
- Content strategy
Everything you share is confidential, but you don’t have to share every sensitive detail about your company. This part of the process often sparks those, ‘look how far we’ve come’ moments later on down the line, so it’s best to share as much as you’re comfortable with.
I’ll create a proposal that includes an outline of your requirements, including the audit findings, to make sure I’ve understood the needs of the project. I like to present proposals in person whenever possible so I can answer any initial questions. It also includes:
- A guide to the creative process
- Financial details – quote & timeline
- Tools I use for project management
4. Strategy Sprint
Every good branding process has a solid strategy workshop (also known as discovery). We’ll arrange a 2–3 hour strategy sprint that looks deeper into your business. This is the leverage for the design phase to ensure the visual identity we create attracts the right people, positions you correctly, and represents you as a company.
The strategy sprint looks at 4 main areas:
- The Motivation – your what, why & how
- Your Identity – values, attributes and personality
- Brand Positioning – audiences, competitor landscape & white-space opportunity
- Brand Messaging – tone of voice, storytelling and content
After the strategy workshop, I compile all of the strategy findings into a neat document so we can refer to it throughout the design phase. This means we can ask questions like:
- Would this design attract the audience we’ve described?
- Is this message going to be understood?
- Do these colours represent the essence of our brand?
5. Design Exploration
We start the design phase when we’ve asked all the questions, researched the industry, and agreed on the direction. Stylescapes or moodboards are often used to explore potential design directions.
With every branding project I work on, I always start with a pencil and paper. Sketching helps organize all my ideas, no matter how big or small. Sometimes the tiniest mark I’ve drawn drives the bigger concept, so I find sketching helps with organic creativity.
I take my strongest sketches into Illustrator, where I develop and refine logos, marks, and patterns for the branding.
Tip for fellow designers: Duplicate every element when making small refinements, no matter how small, so you can see the development of your designs and go back to previous iterations if you need to. I learned this from Aaron Draplin, founder of DDC.
View the video snippet here: Aaron Draplin Takes on a Logo Design Challenge
Once I’ve developed the concepts, I look at how they can be applied to different mediums such as web, social media, printed materials, banners, signage, and packaging.
This is compiled into a presentation to discuss the concepts.
The launch is the final stretch in the branding process, but possibly the most important.
A brand identity is most effective when used correctly, so part of the launch phase is not only providing you with the deliverables in the right formats, but also to talk through the best ways to actually use them.
All of the recommendations are provided in the Brand Identity Guide you receive and includes things like:
- How to use your logo – e.g. don’t place on busy backgrounds
- Your brand colour codes – CMYK, Hex, RGB & Pantone
- Recommended print specifications – e.g always choose uncoated paper stock for consistency
- Examples of the tone of voice – e.g. how you say things and words you should use
As always, I’m on hand for advice or support when it comes to maintaining brand consistency, including design support across print, marketing, and social media once the branding process is complete.
- Branding is more than a logo.
- Successful branding must include strategy and research so the final results help your business rather than hinder it.
- The brand identity deliverables will always include guidelines so you know how to use your new identity system.
I hope this gives you an insight into how Studio Grace approaches the branding process, but feel free to leave a comment below with any questions!
Thinking about branding or rebranding your business?
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