Have you ever inquired about a service outside of your industry and found it difficult to know what questions to ask? Today I’m giving you a behind the scenes look into my branding process from start to finish in hopes that I can shed light on the process of reaching out to a possible graphic designer all the way to receiving your final files.
Every small business has unique branding needs. I meet with interested business owners to determine any existing branding issues and to discuss what deliverables are needed. I’m happy to meet in-person with those local to the Pinehurst, North Carolina area or set up a phone/skype call for clients outside of the Sandhills. If the business has a storefront or location, it helps to hold the meeting in that space as a reference. The consultation is time for both of us to get answers to our questions. I want to know what has and hasn’t been working with any existing branding, what the big picture goals are for the company, what deliverables you are interested in, what challenges you experience with reaching your audience and what internal roles and processes related to advertising are in place. After the deliverables have been determined, I send a quote that outlines the pricing, timeline and responsibilities required to complete the project goals.
I have developed an online questionnaire to dig deeper into the “why” behind the new brand. These questions are customized to the project deliverables and are carefully crafted to get to the heart of your business. I encourage my clients to set aside time to reflect on these questions – small business owners are so busy juggling every aspect of their business that they don’t often get time to step back and look at the big picture. This is important so that we develop a brand for the business you are becoming, not the one you have been in the past. Often times clients want to rush straight to designing the logo, however I take branding very seriously as it is an investment for entrepreneurs and it is my responsibility to create an accurate and enduring visual brand. Consideration must be given to the audience and their perception of your company. There may be additional dialogue during this phase if further clarification is needed.
I take all of the important words used in the questionnaire/consultation and represent them visually on a mood board. Similar to an interior designer’s board full of fabric samples, paint chips and other finishes a mood board is a digital representation of the mood of the brand. The feeling your audience would experience looking at the mood board is the same feeling they will get when viewing your newly branded collateral. Only work with brand designers who use this type of step in their process. Words are abstract and people interpret them differently. A bold and feminine brand can be imagined very differently by two people. My goal is to limit chances of frustration and miscommunications during the branding process.
During this step, time is spent researching, sketching and exploring various logo shapes. I fill a page or two in my sketchbook of roughly drawn shapes – aiming to get out as many ideas as I can. Those sketches are narrowed down and brought into the computer where I start refining them. At this point, more attention is given to perfecting the alignment, fonts and illustration styles. Clients are provided with three logo concepts to review. I walk through the design decisions behind each element of the new logos and how they tie back to the brand goals. When possible, clients should get feedback from a few people who fall into their target audience. By the end of this phase, the client should choose one of the three concepts to perfect.
The grid spacing, colors and lines are revised for the chosen logo. During this phase I display the logo on a brand board that highlights the finalized logo, color palette, fonts and any textures or patterns that may be a part of your brand. I also develop a submark or monogram option based on the final logo. This mark must be recognizable as connected to the logo but simplified for use in smaller areas of display. My Branding Package includes two rounds of revisions during this stage.
Next, I create all the industry standard files. Logos with a white background, logos with no background, font files, editable files, hex numbers for all brand colors… it is all provided to you in a neat little digital package. Check out my FREE pdf: The Non-Designer’s Guide to File Formats as a reference. I also create a logo usage guide that explains how to keep the logo looking its best. With these tools, small businesses are set up with everything needed to launch their new brand and maintain consistency.