January 2, 2009 | Branding
I wanted to start this blog with full disclosure that I am a graphic designer. So while branding can be so much more than just the design of company’s image, that is my focus, my viewpoint, my perspective, my angle, my bias.
On projects for Visible Logic, I usually am not involved until a client gets to the design phase. I may try to push them back a step and allow me to help them with “bigger picture” issues, but that’s not always an option.
A few things I think that are part of branding:
Researching the market and figuring out how your product or service will fit in with the rest is an important precursor to branding. This may not even branding, but rather determining whether or not there is room for a brand. When I work on an identity project for a client I always ask for a list of their competitors and I follow that up with my own research. The client is generally able to provide insider knowledge about how their competitors fit into their trade’s landscape. I am able to give an outsider’s view of how each is perceived and where there is room for another brand.
Deciding on a name for your product or service is critical. I wish this was something I was more involved with. It is an area that I’ve contributed to when working at larger agencies. And my educational background has prepared me for this more than the average designer. Even if I don’t find myself naming primary businesses or products, I often provide feedback and ideas on other text such as taglines, descriptions, etc. The style and tone of writing is definitely part of your brand and should be considered in printed marketing materials, on your web site and even in emails.
Creating a visible look for the product or service. This is the heart of what I do in a branding project–development of the look and feel for a web site or design of a logo. This involves development of:
- iconography – your logo symbol, if there is one
- logotypes – the specific way your company name is typeset
- typographic palette – the choice of fonts, and how they are typeset
- color palettes – corporate color(s) and supporting color choices
- imagery – this includes photographic styles or other images
- visual patterns etc. – all the rest of those design elements such as the grid, amount of color, white space, etc.
Identifying other touch points that will affect the brand, including customer service, sales, etc. are things that should be considered. When I develop branding materials, I suggest to my client all the places where an identity could be carried over. These include the basics: business card, letterhead, web site and marketing materials. And then to the next layer of materials: invoices, packaging, uniforms, order forms, trade booths, advertisements. But there is an important level beyond the design, that should be at the core of your business. This is how you and your employees interact with customers. It can be the style and tone of text on your web site, the decision to use email vs. the phone, the way you answer the phone, the sign on your door, etc. Obviously many of these areas are well beyond the scope of a graphic designer, but as a small business owner myself they are things I’ve considered.
As this blog develops I hope that my insight as a designer will add to, but not close-off my perspective on branding.
So, welcome and please respond with your thoughts.
– Emily Brackett