The Branding Process
When you think of a brand, what comes to mind? Naturally, you probably think of what I like to call the “tip of the iceberg” stuff – logo, colors, fonts and imagery/graphics.
Not so apparent are the processes, sketching, and collaboration that makes a brand visually strong and attractive to the outside world—the “bottom of the iceberg” stuff. We all know that if the bottom, or foundation, isn’t solid, the top won’t be either.
Last year, our team took a step back and began to question how we approach this “bottom of the iceberg” stuff. It wasn’t that we were doing anything wrong, we just knew there was something missing to make our final, visible product even stronger for our clients’ businesses.
The first big change we made is what we present to the client in our first meeting. Instead of bringing a mood board of busy visual directions, we bring a simple list of concepts (with the why behind them) and usually 4-5 different color palettes. The concepts are a brain dump of words we feel could capture the client’s brand visually. There is no wrong answer and we aren’t limited by what we see on sites like Pinterest or Dribble because we haven’t even gone there yet. The color palettes help us determine what kind of mood and feeling the client wants to evoke with their brand. Are they drawn to bright busy colors? Or muted corporate ones?
The second big change we made is what we present to the client next: our literal hand-drawn sketches. In the past, all the steps from making our initial mood boards to digitizing concepts were done internally. Like many others, we used to shy away from showing clients anything but a “presentable” product for them to critique. Now we bring our clients into the dirty work with us. Not only do they feel like they are more part of the process, but they can tell us exactly what they are drawn to and why. Another benefit to this is that they can literally see the work and thought going into their brand—something that the rest of the world will probably never get to experience.
Making these key changes has helped create some of our strongest branding work to date. It’s also helped to eliminate many of the revisions we were having to make at later stages in the process. Want to see the “tip of the iceberg” stuff that’s come as a result? You can find two of my favorite recent branding projects here and here.