The secret of brand design for businesses
Originally published — and most updated version — at: http://franrosa.com/articles/brand-design-a-guide-for-businesses.html
There’s a common misconception about brands and design. Some people think you hire a graphic designer to create a brand for you. That’s wrong. And worst part is some designers are happy to spread that idea in order to gain clients.
I don’t need a designer?
I can’t think of a single business that couldn’t benefit from working with a graphic designer. It’s about communication, and every business has to communicate itself at some level. From differentiation to adequateness of a message form, graphic designers are a great asset for your business.
Who is going to create my brand?
A brand, and specially your company brand, has to be created from the inside and, most important, brought to life by the whole company. A brand is a set of features of your company or product, and those have to be real. You can build a brand for your business that doesn’t reflect your true values but the values you want others to relate your company with. But it won’t last. You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Do I have to know how to create a brand?
You have to know what is the identity of your company or product in order to create a brand, but you can have professional help. There are branding specialists, but it’s a question of marketing. There’s also people specialized in specific areas like online reputation. Some graphic designers also have the experience to help you identify the key aspects of your brand. If you look for help in defining your brand, be it hiring someone or collaborating with a freelance or company, you have to be honest about your company, your capabilities and your business identity.
What to do after defining my business’ brand?
Once you have your brand clearly defined, you can work on every aspect of your business that reflect your brand, from advertising to costumer service, product design and communication. If your brand values are clearly defined it’s easy to align all those aspects to reflect your brand. If you have kindness as a core brand value, is not only on your advertising you have to be kind, but also while responding to customer feedback or talking to a client.
When are you going to mention the need of a logo?
Working on the form of messages is really important. Not the most important aspect, but one of the top ones. And a good visual representation of your brand identity is a huge aspect, because it spreads across every interaction: your website, letters, products, etc. But it doesn’t necessarily reduces to a logo, or not what most people understand as a logo. A brand can be mutable and have different forms, and it doesn’t have to be a word mark with a symbol attached to it. Sometimes typography is enough. Sometimes just the use of color, and not a particular color.
Don’t I need a word mark, a symbol logo, a corporate color, and all those things?
Brands used to work by repetition. And depending on your business it may be the way to go. But sometimes a strategy based on a set of elements instead of repeating the same again and again may be a better way to communicate a brand. If your business is a small shop, packing your products in a specific color, or using textures may be more interesting than printing your logo over a thousand bags. If you wrap your goods in an interesting way, it may engage your costumers in a conversation with their friends about where they got it, and may be more useful for your business than printing your address in the bag.
Will I be able to afford those things?
A whole marketing plan is the best way to be sure how much you spend on every aspect of your communication. But most graphic designers will be able to talk with you about your options according to your budget and your desired output. If you are honest with a designer about your budget, they will be able to help you. Some people are afraid that telling a designer how much they can spend, the designer will go with the most expensive option on that budget. But that’s the point of it, offering you the best solution you can afford. And working with the same professional over time will give her the option to adapt to your business evolution and grow your brand, because time is your friend and brands need time to evolve and be understood.
If you’re honest about your business working with branding, marketing and design professionals, trust them to work with your brand over time, and talk with them about business you’ll be able to build your brand with their help. Because true professionals will talk to you about business, not specific services they can offer. If some professional wants to talk you about getting something done (be it a website, brochure, stationary) instead of helping your brand (and business) grow, go work with someone else.