Let’s talk process
I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached for my services with an introductory message that says “Can you make a triangle with *insert name here* under it?” I typically answer those messages with “What is it for? How will it be used? What kind of services or products are you hoping to market? And to whom?” because those questions matter.
You and your vision matters.
The first step in my branding process is this question: Who am I branding for? Without this step – this key question – any subsequent work I do will be without the foundation needed to create a lasting and effective brand. A brand is often a customer’s “first contact” with your company, so I have to get to know you and your business, what you value and stand for. So, the first part of my design process is discussion.
When we sit down together, my first question for you will likely be “What’s the dream?” Being a business owner myself I know there’s a story; a dream, a goal, a vision, a “shoot for the stars” idea that drives you. I want to understand what that is and how you hope to get there; how you’ve already gotten to where you are.
You are awesome and you’re getting stuff done. (Usually more than you even realize.) And, I want to know all about it because your brand should be a reflection of where you are and where you want to go.
As a friend of mine often says, “start as you mean to go on.” So, you fill me in on your long term vision, and I’ll help uncover and create strong steps to get you there.
Once we have met, and I feel I have a baseline idea of your expectations, hopes, and vision, I hit the sketchbook. This stage often takes time and many pages. It sometimes involves ink and paint and brushes or, at times, just a pencil. Other times, I end up with just a single page of quick sketches before I move on to the digital sketches.
The Pencil Sketches
The sketch stage was always my most hated stage when I was a design student:
“What do you mean I have to do 200 thumbnail sketches? They count for marks?!”
Yes, they counted for marks and, yes, they are essential to the process. Inspired by our discussion and with a clear vision of your business and values in mind, I start to sketch ideas. This stage is an explosion of creativity and savage kind of filter. It exists to help me go to the bounds of my imagination and then break beyond it into unchartered territory. It exists to weed out the cliché and I have honestly learned to adore it. Grabbing my sketchbook is my first instinct when I start a new project. So, I suppose I owe my instructors a thank you for burning this invaluable tool into my being.
The Digital Sketches
The digital stage is usually similar to the sketch stage in that I sometimes end up with one file containing 30 versions and sometimes end up with 20 files before I get to a place where it’s time to talk final (and this is to say nothing of the file naming struggle designers often face: final.ai and final_1.ai and final_33_edit4.ai but I digress.)
The digital stage of the branding process is, quite honestly, one of my favourite stages. To play and explore within Adobe Illustrator; a tool that has made everything so fluid and versatile is one of my great joys in life. At this stage I start exploring with typefaces and colour. I can have files that are bursting at the seams with one logo version in a rainbow of colours and a myriad of typefaces.
The Client Presentation
Once I have a solid two or three concepts of your brand that I feel reflect your business and can really go places it’s time to present you with options. Typically, I present the two or three concepts in both horizontal and vertical versions to showcase the versatility of each. This presentation is not for you to “pick one.” Instead, I ask that you tell me what you love/hate about each one. Maybe you love the colour of #1, the typeface of #2, and the orientation or pairing of #3. Perhaps you are totally opposed to the colour and typeface of #1 but like how certain elements complement each other. I offer no judgement, no arguments, no justifications.This stage is really about finding what speaks to you. I am an educated tool to wield, one who offers guidance to help navigate and facilitate your journey.
At this point in the process, armed with your feedback on the concepts I presented, I refine all of our work into a final piece. This final version of your logo and brand will employ a combination of elements; typeface, colour, shape, imagery to embody the spirit and goals of your business. After final tweaks and touches, if you are satisfied with the result, I then create all the necessary file formats; pdf, jpg, png; in all colour spaces; rgb, cmyk, pms; and put together a package along with a branding guideline as reference for any future designers who will work with your brand.
All of this work – the “shoot for the stars” conversation, the 50-200 sketches, the digital duplicates upon duplicates, the multiple options, presentation, and further conversations – will provide you with a solid, effective marketing tool that you identify with and feel truly represents both you and your company. Above all, my business dream is to help you honour your dream, and this is why good branding—and the heart of my process—is you and your business.