1 Hit the target
Knowing your target audience or customer can be the difference between your brand being effective and it tanking. Targeting the wrong audience can be fatal. Spend time researching the audience so you understand it fully: this will give you strong foundations, letting you communicate the brand both visually and in words. Focus groups are an excellent tactic, and also give the brand an early opportunity to start engaging with the public.
2 Research rivals
Knowing what’s already out there and who you’re up against is a great way to start a branding brief. Identify weaknesses and strengths in your competitors and the market to help you understand core aspects of how your brand may develop. Daily influences are an endless resource and help you know what’s happening in the industry, so look at your competitors’ websites for an insight.
3 Identify your core values
Branding is more than just a nicely designed logo and visual identity: it’s also about driving an idea or story. Home in on the brand’s core values and share them. What’s the meaning or purpose behind the brand? What personality do you want to share with your target audience? Look at what makes the brand unique and what it stands for, then amplify it.
4 Communicate a story
Brands today have the opportunity to communicate outside of the traditional channels. Consumers are much more aware of issues that surround them from day to day, whether it’s an environmental story or even a ‘rags to riches’ story. Knowing your brand’s story and telling it through your visual identity is just as important as selling your product or service.
5 Flexible designs
It’s vital to have a brand that can grow and evolve with time. A logo can be consistent and recognisable, but also have various treatments to keep it flexible. Will your brand translate from a website to a mobile platform? Does the logo work for an app icon or do you need a secondary logo or symbol? Asking these questions early in the design process will help you build a better brand in the future.
6 Keep it simple and direct
Consumers face thousands of messages every day, so often it’s best to keep it short, simple and to the point. If you can’t say it in a few words, is it worth saying? Some of the strongest brands today use a very simple visual identity system, whether it’s a limited colour palette, clean typography or a clear and easy-to-understand tone.
7 Create an aesthetic niche of your own
Look into the things that are generally associated with your product or service, as this will have an effect on how the brand is received. Brands need to stand out with a competitive edge. Think about unusual twists that you can put on the branding; it doesn’t have to focus on the product all the time. Think about who’s using it and how.
8 Bad ideas can lead to good ones
Don’t be afraid to experiment: even having a handful of bad ideas can lead to something great. Brainstorming and getting a mix of opinions will help you to look at the key objectives of the brand, expose any issues and recognise values that need to be communicated. Having a wall full of ideas and associated imagery to stand back from can really give a sense of direction and clarity.
9 Nail the details
Logos, straplines and core values are not the only elements of a brand. Can you recognise the brand without seeing the logo? Can you identify it through a typeface or a colour? Develop ideas and concepts that take a brand design further than the physical and digital space, such as how the brand sits in its environment, or how the people behind the brand dress and engage with their customers.
10 It isn’t finished
As a brand designer, you can design uniforms, set the tone and consider all the platforms, but the brand needs to continue to be reinforced after that. A good agency will continue helping the client to implement the brand and ensure it moves with the times.
All illustrations by Roxanne Daner