DEVELOPING A BRAND IDENTITY: HOW THE PROCESS WORKS
When you’re ready to invest time and money toward developing your brand identity, how do you go about hiring a brand designer? From brand agencies to freelance logo designers like myself, it can be overwhelming trying to know for sure if a designer will achieve the results you’re hoping for… even if you don’t know what you’re hoping for.
Every designer will have a different process, so I thought I’d outline what you can expect when working with me to design your brand, but first, let’s start with a few tips to help you choose the brand designer that’s right for you.
HOW TO FIND A BRANDING DESIGNER THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
There are oh so many branding designers out there. I know because I love to connect with my broader community. My advice to you when you begin your search for a brand designer is to take to social media, specifically Pinterest and Instagram. These two social platforms are highly visual and logo designers and brand studios love them.
On Pinterest, start by searching for your industry + branding or for a certain style that appeals to you, like modern brand design. This will be helpful in identifying brand designers but also a great way to save ideas of what you like stylistically.
On Instagram, use hashtags to search for brand identity designers. Hashtags like #branddesigners, #freelancebranddesigner, or #brandingexpert are great places to start, but the possibilities are endless. However, this approach is an easy way to find designers whose aesthetic appeals to you and what you envision for your own brand identity rather quickly.
If you prefer to work with a freelance logo designer or branding studio in your area, the best place to search is, of course, Google.
Developing a Brand Identity: The Hunt for the Ideal Aesthetic
The main goal with all three of these approaches is to look at the aesthetic of each designer. Generally, there will be a similar style throughout their branding portfolio. If you look at my own portfolio, for instance, you can see that my design style favours minimalism. So if you’re after a highly detailed graphic or animated logo, I am not the designer for you.
Once you’ve found a designer you know will deliver designs that align with your vision and aesthetic, how does the branding process work? Each branding designer will have their own unique process. Here’s what you can expect when working with me.
PHASE ONE: BRAND DISCOVERY
The first step as a brand designer is to get a solid understanding of your business. I call this the discovery phase. This phase will require some work on your part, but I assure you it will be beneficial to the outcome of your brand identity as well as your own business objectives.
If you want to build a successful brand and business you need to identify your who, what, and why. I send each of my branding clients my Discovery Questionnaire to complete that outlines these very things. It’s broken down into five sections:
The Business Essentials
The Brand Essentials
The Brand Influencers
This phase is as important for me as it is for you. It’s important that you carve out time to answer these questions mindfully. If there are questions you get stuck on, it probably means it's an area you need some clarity on for your business.
The more direction I’m provided during this phase, from personality to customer behaviour, the better. In order for me to design a brand identity that truly aligns with your values and will resonate with your ideal customers, I need you to answer the questions with care and purpose.
The other thing worth noting here is that I am open to your ideas. This process is collaborative. I encourage you to communicate your ideas and instincts and I’ll work to grow and expand on them during the ideation phase.
PHASE TWO: RESEARCH
Based on your Discovery Questionnaire answers I may have some follow up questions or might dive right into the next phase: research. This is where I take the time to familiarize myself with your industry, both locally and globally. I’ll look to your competition to see how we can differentiate and spend time getting to know who your ideal customers really are. All of these factors will influence the direction of the design.
Understanding who your target audience is — from lifestyle and behaviours to motivations and pain points — is invaluable. Without this, who am I even designing for?
PHASE 3: IDEATION
This is where the fun begins! Equipped with all that I know about your business, your industry, and who will benefit from your product or service, I put pencil to paper and start sketching. This can take some time. I need to work through a lot of bad ideas to get to the good ones. During the ideation phase I create upwards of 20 to 40 potential logo sketches. From these loose designs, I choose three concepts to further refine and present to you.
How long does a logo design take?
As you can tell by now, there’s much more to designing a logo than just drawing an icon. It’s important to understand that the creative process involved in developing a successful brand identity, when done strategically, takes time. You can expect the turnaround time to range from two to four weeks. If you’re investing in your brand, trust me, you want to take the time to do it right.
PHASE 4: CONCEPT DELIVERY
You’ll receive a concept package that outlines three brand identity systems for you to consider, along with individually curated colour palettes. I’ll be deliberate with my choices and do my best to outline the intention behind each design.
Remember, this process is collaborative. I want your open and honest feedback. In fact, I NEED your feedback. Specific feedback. Spend some time with the different concepts. Share them with your friends and family for some outside perspective and feedback too.
I want the design to really resonate with you. Once you decide which design to move forward with, we’ll work on further refining it.
PHASE 5: REFINE, STYLE & DELIVER
Based on your feedback, I work to further refine your preferred concept. We’ll expand on the design to ensure all supporting logos and brandmarks suit the overall brand identity. The colour palette will be secured, and I’ll create a deliverables package with all of your final logo files.
Along with your logo files, you’ll receive a brand style guide. The purpose of your brand style guide is to serve as the guidebook for your brand’s visual identity. It covers logo guidelines, colour hierarchy, brand typography and how to use it. You’ll send your style guide to designers, web developers, employees, project managers or whoever else may be working with your brand to ensure all of your creative going forward is cohesive.
For you, as an added bonus, you’ll even receive a guide — customized to your brand — on how to use your deliverables. I want everything to be as smooth and straight forward as possible so you can get busy growing your business.
The one takeaway I want you to get out of this is that developing a brand identity — a really good one — takes time. Take your time hiring the brand designer that’s right for you and give them time to do the job well. Investing in your brand today, means you won’t have to rebrand tomorrow. If you’re ready to invest in your brand, I’d love to hear from you!