Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video What to know, part of Branding for Designers.
- I've been hired to design a logo for a client, but the client's business is in trouble, and they don't know why. They think a new logo will freshen up the look and solve the problems, but unfortunately, it won't. If the product is bad or the company is in the midst of a scandal, a new logo is like putting lipstick on a pig. Now, I can go ahead, knowing there are larger issues, and design the logo and take the money, but that isn't particularly ethical and won't result in a long-term working relationship.
My goal is to help define and communicate the brand, identifying any issues I see and help the client succeed. To do this, I need information. While Wikipedia is an easy tool, it won't answer the questions I have. I need to get in the trenches and talk to people. It's scary when we are used to sitting behind a computer and designing by ourselves, but it will always make a better solution.
First, I want to know what the current brand strategy is, if there is one. If so, what does the client think works and what doesn't? This isn't about the visuals, it's about the message. What does the client believe he or she is communicating? I need to understand the audience. Who is the current audience and who do they want it to be? Don't let someone get away with "everyone." That's too broad. The chances are good that there is a primary and secondary audience.
Now, who should it be in five years? Will that audience stay with the brand or do they need to expand or contract? Who is the client's competition? Is there anyone else doing exactly the same thing? Are they more successful or gaining from behind? What is their brand message? Go beyond the expected. One of my clients was a nonprofit library foundation. The obvious competition was bookstores and online books.
But other cultural institutions and museums were also encroaching on the client's audience. When we talk about values in branding, we aren't talking about political issues. The values refer to the most basic beliefs a client has. Often, this is where the company started. When Gap opened its first store in 1969, the founders followed these principles, creativity, delivering results, doing what's right and always thinking of our customers first.
These principles guide what they produce, how they interact with their employees and customers, and what they communicate. If the values have been make money fast, for example, the quality, interaction with the consumer and message would be entirely different, and probably not successful. Determining the correct core audience and reaching a clear set of values is like an archaeology project. You may need to dig deeper and spend time sifting through the information to reach the right answer.
And remember, to do this, collaborating with a client. They may not be the best at filtering the information, but that's what we do.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books