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Don't build a business, build a brand instead.
Branding process explained.

Marcin Rzymek, June 20, 2019

Competition between companies is rather sharp today. A business requires to be distinctive and recognizable by clients in order to stand out among the crowd. What stands behind every successful product is a powerful brand. It has been found that almost 58 percent of individuals prefer to buy products from familiar brands, and 22 percent say they are willing to buy items if it comes from a brand they like. Some individuals have been used to believing that branding is done by marketing experts alone. If you tell that to professional designers, though, they’re going to reply how wrong you are.
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand” – Paul Rand
The post explores the essence of branding and the role of design in it. Also, the crucial phases of efficient brand development will be defined.

Branding? What is it? 

The term “Brand” has been widely used as some trendy thing recently, usually in the fashion industry, so many individuals have forgotten its real nature.

Business Dictionary says a brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, phrases, or a mixture of these, used to create a picture that defines a product and differentiate it from its competition. In other words, a brand is a visual manifestation that is correlated by individuals with a business or product. The one that clients associate with a high level of credibility and quality is an efficient brand identity.

Photoshop, facebook ads, adobe colours and instagram screenshots on apple devices

Powerful branding, however, relies not only on the aesthetic aspects of brand components, but on the information that lies behind it, such as message and emotional response. Person responsible for branding need to get deep into the details of company objectives as well as do market research and define target audience in order to develop a good brand identity. Here we have split a branding process into six key phases that creators or business owners need to go through on the brand creation path.

Phase 1: Goals and Brand Definition

It’s not, of course, a designer who sets a company’s objectives or defines its character, even though it is the base of the whole branding process. The business must set objectives and values at the starting point to obtain the anticipated outcomes so that the branding crew can see where to go. It is a designer or strategist job to help them with that.

For the entire cycle of brand existence, they do not necessarily need to be defined and used. During a creative process, the objectives can be adjusted later, but it is essential to have some directives at the start.

In addition, before creatives begin to work on a visual portion, they need to define the personality they want to present. It’s impossible to design a brand without its understanding. Like with painting a portrait. You can do the copy perfectly well, but there’s no emotion in the job. The same goes for branding. If the customers have not provided a description of their business to a designer, it is nice to ask for it. For instance, designers can ask clients to create a list of 4–5 keywords that describe their business, or at least what they want a business to be. More specific questions will be asked, more well defined the brand definition will be.

Practice demonstrates that not all customers come to cooperate with designers. They may not believe about information and just ask for an appealing visual presentation that will bring their company success. There’s nothing outstanding about it. Customers often see designers like artists creating beautiful pictures but you can’t expect them to understand all the brand characteristics and goals or know the brand attributes without conversation and introducing them to your business. 

The principles of psychology can assist creatives develop efficient customer communication. Many clients are not certain about their wishes and preferences, and that’s when psychology helps. If a designer discovers the right questions to ask, creating a customer-based guide will be simpler.

Phase 2: Market & Audience Research

When the goals are set and the personality of a company seems clear, designers go to the research work. This move is vital to the work of designers of all types, be it a logo or a mobile app. Research enables immerse yourself in the future brand’s environment and understand the peculiarities that can affect your achievement.

The analysis on the market is going first. Designers check out market and potential competitors data. It’s good to know whether it’s good or bad from someone’s experience. With the required information specialists, a distinctive and effective logo can be created and a brand identity that will stand out from the competition.

The preferences of designers and customer should go aside the requirements of the target audience. In order to gain their trust, a brand must create a good impression on its prospective customers or users and by telling a story give them hope for solving their “problem”. User analysis helps deepen the target audience’s preferences and psychological peculiarities.

The design is not just art. If you depend on beauty and talent extremely, there is a danger that the assignment will fail. Compared to doing the work again, research requires less time.

Phase 3: Logo

Some people often mistake a logo with a brand, but it’s just one phase in the branding process. However, underestimating the function of logo design would be incorrect. It is the fundamental brand identity mark, the most prominent brand image symbol, and the core of an efficient marketing strategy that enables its interaction with the target audience.

We have outlined the logo design in our article “Why is the logo so important for startups?”. Hereby the main bullet points:

  • setting the task
  • user research
  • marketing research
  • creative search
  • choice of style direction
  • choice of color palette
  • testing in different sizes and environments
  • creating a style guide setting right and wrong cases of logo use etc.

One of the elements included in the research is the exploration of competitive business logos. It helps to prevent unnecessary resemblance to other industry logos and to create an authentic brand identity.
When all the key data is collected, designers are moving to a more artistic stage — the creative process itself. They choose the direction of style and color palette by means of various tests that will work best for a brand.

Designers begin the test stage after the logo is finished. The thing is that in a different environment or variety of surfaces, not everything that looks good on a digital screen will be the same. And that’s why testing the logo in all possible conditions and placements is essential to ensure that there is no unpleasant surprise.
Logo design plays a major role in branding, so it is suggested that designers pay close attention to their creative process. A well-considered logo is worth investing in time.

Phase 4: Visual Brand Elements

Companies often search for ways to customize their brand. Mascots are the custom design characters made to represent the brand in an iconic way. They can be developed as part of a logo or as a single component of a brand. Such characters as nothing else can create a link with users. A mascot acts as a communication and user interaction instrument to help transmit the message in an uncommon way. Same goes about icons. People begin to see a mascot and icons as a significant representative of a business that introduces a product or service to them. The effective mascot ensures a brand’s recognizability and memorability and rapidly caught the attention of consumers.

Typography is another visual component that is important for brand identity. Many logos are developed or contain fonts through typography, but typography does not end here. Banners, business cards, corporate correspondence should also include indications of brand identity. You can also make your brand speak through fonts. Designers often produce custom fonts that even in such tiny details make businesses unique. That’s not the only choice, though. Experts can select a variety of standard fonts that best suits a particular brand. This makes it simpler for consumers to remember a brand in every detail because of its consistency.

Phase 5: Brand Style

When the logo is prepared, the color palette is selected and other visual components are ready, it’s time to bring them together in a harmonious brand style. When a designer operates on branding for service offering businesses, it is necessary. Depending on a company type, various characteristics can become a branded item. There are some popular brand components used by various businesses:

  1. Business card – It is a must-have item in business communication today, so it is essential to ensure that a business card properly represents a brand.
  2. Letterhead -There is always a formal style in business communication. Designers need to work on their documents presentation to prove a brand is a credible partner and service provider. Letterheads and envelopes must contain professional-level brand identity components.
  3. Banners, Posters and Billboards – Therefore, customers often ask designers to work on a creative concept for outdoor advertisements and web banners.
  4. Vehicle wraps – Effective vehicle decoration is required by companies providing product delivery. Brand identity materials on the vehicles or trucks of the business are an effective way of promoting outdoors.
  5. Merchandise – Brand-marked clothing brings the team spirit into a business so employers often take care of these attributes. Branded T-shirts and hats can be a nice solution to a uniform if needed or used as gifts.
Business collateral. Business cards and letterhead standing on the brick. Two blue pencils on the side

Phase 6: Brand Guide

The job is finished. The material for the visual is complete. The last job for the designer is to ensure that all assets are correctly used by clients. A style guide is a document that provides directions on how to use the graphics produced for the brand correctly and incorrectly. Traditionally, a style guide involves explaining the concept behind a logo and presenting a corporate color palette that can be used for various reasons. To prevent bad visual performance, it may be nice to show the pictures of inappropriate use.

Final Words

Branding is a challenging process, as you can see. Based on the requirements of the target audience and company goals, each step should be well thought out. To see more, please visit our latest case studies. Remain tuned!

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