What’s a ‘brand’ and why does it matter?
A strong brand is built on an idea.
And while a brand is often expressed through graphic design as well as written and spoken words, all of that must rest on a foundation that is essentially this: Why do you do what you do? What matters to you?
A strong brand answers to those questions whenever it communicates with customers: whether through a personal interaction, an advertisement, a website, social media or the sign outside your building. Imagery, words, color, type and tone of voice all work together to say a lot about who you are.
That’s branding. And it works. A great brand will inspire loyalty and admiration. But it takes planning, discipline and persistence.
The branding process
A branding project begins with a conversation. Here are a few things we talk about, things a brand needs to succeed:
- It needs to be rooted in an idea that your customers can believe in. What is this big idea?
- It needs to be true to who you are and what you’re trying to do. If it’s phony to start with, it won’t last.
- It needs those inside your organization to believe in it. If your colleagues or employees don’t buy it, your customers won’t either. Is everyone on board?
From there we distill the conversation into an idea, into messages, into images. There normally will be a number of iterations as we work back-and-forth to design a logo and select colors and type.
A brand guide
As we nail down the brand, you probably will want to be able to have in-house staff implement it. Maybe you’ll need to make a quick flyer, a letter or even something as utilitarian as an invoice.
A “brand guide” is a document we create for you during a branding project that explains how to use your logo, typefaces and color palette (as well as how not to use them). Consistency is an essential part of building a brand. The guide may also include advice on getting your messages across.
If you’re curious about what’s in a brand guide, here is a fairly simple one that we created for a community organization in California.
Do you really need branding?
So here’s a question maybe you’re asking yourself: “Geez, I just wanted a logo. Do I really need to go through all this?”
Honestly, maybe not. It depends. There are plenty of times we have designed logos without the full branding rigmarole. Often, it’s turned out just fine. On the other hand, there are times we think that was a serious mistake.
The best thing is to come in and talk to us about it. We’re reasonable people. We’ll try to give you our best advice, and we won’t be trying to sell you something we don’t think you need or you clearly don’t want. The nearest thing we have to mission statement is: “no bullshit.” That’s part of why we started this company, and that’s the root of our brand.