Designing brand identities is such an awesome and rewarding experience. As designers, we endeavor to make the best brand identities we can, however at times things don’t go the way they should, and the way we want them to be. What we need is a more disciplined approach, and for that, we follow a more professional procedure.
For this process, let’s provide you a walkthrough we mostly use to create a brand identity. We will show you a brand identity we created lately and will clarify each and every step we went through.
The Creative Process (10 steps)
I will be presenting a brand identity project that I made together with my team.
Showing you the following steps like a discussion among you and the customer, while you are enjoying a cup of tea. Here’s YOU (consultant or group) disclosing the procedure to your customer. For the record, I picked “group,” since it has a feeling of consideration and included some extra task notes for setting.
01. Research + pen and paper
a. Moodboards / Stylescapes
By using mood boards (like collages, if you say), we will be able to visualize the wire-frame of the design. Same like Pinterest or Instagram.
b. Mind Mapping
We always use this technique to express our ideas into an organized form. There’s no good or bad, all types of ideas are taken into consideration by brainstorming as soon as they pop into our heads, and later we focus on organizing them.
Just like a map, we target a destination point not the entire map, while the roads stretching out towards the destination point are equal to the key thoughts in our designing process. You’ll also have secondary roads or options we can say, which represent secondary thoughts; and so on.
Images or shapes are the landmarks of our map, just like particularly exciting or representative ideas which helps a lot in the Brand identity designing process.
This is when we transform all our ideas into pencil sketches. The goal here is to turn ideas into a low resolution graphic.
Selection & PDF preparation
After pouring our hearts and creativity into our sketches, we will select between 8 and 12 of them, scan them, and prepare a PDF in a grid layout.
Don’t worry; we’ll have side notes that further explain the concepts and why these particular sketches were deemed the ‘winners’ in our eyes. Each proposal will have a reference number, so you can easily choose your favorites.
We know you want the best of our efforts, so please be aware the sketching phase can extend over several days. (3–5 days)
Project note: While drawing we make quick decisions, some logos have thin lines, some thick, some have a small size, some are big, some are hollow, some filled. In the presentation stage we redrew the selected sketches and refined them. The aim was to make them look consistent in line, thickness and size.
02. Review & Feedback / Phase 1
Based on the PDF you’ll receive, you will be able to review the selected concepts and give feedback that we’ll make sure to incorporate in the next step.
Don’t be shy, let us know what you really think! We love an honest opinion.
We recommend that you choose 4–6 concepts that can go in the digitization phase.
03. [4–6] Digital proposals
Each proposal from step 02 will be digitized. We will work primarily in black and white and test the logos in both black on white background, and vice versa. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of color; we’ll get to that a bit later.
04. Client Review & Feedback / Phase 2
Once you receive the PDF from step 03, you’ll get the chance to choose “one” proposal for further development/iterations. We’ll make sure every little detail is as it’s supposed to be and each pixel is where it’s supposed to be for you.
Project note: The client has chosen this version of the logo, both horizontal and vertical versions.
05. Final version iterations
Based on the version that you’ve decided on, we will start iterating and prepare 5–7 iterations. We will arrange all versions in a grid system (just like we did with the sketches in section 01). You’ll have our side notes to help you navigate the minute detail variations that can make all the difference.
All concepts are presented in black and white. (Bear with us for a little longer, we promise there will be color.)
Project note: The image is just a small fragment of the actual iterations. We had many more refined versions, with a lot of differences some more noticeable some less. In this step we also refined the proportions, tracking, kerning and made some optical adjustments to balance the composition. The client gave a lot of valuable input in all the stages of the process that we took in consideration.
06. Client Approval
The moment you’ve been waiting for — you will choose the final version from all iterations in step 05.
07. Choosing colors
See? We’re designers of our words. With the final version of the logo, we can now talk and select colors. We will propose between 2 and 5 color choices and prepare a PDF for you.
Project note: We knew that the client wanted blue as the primary color, but we wanted to try some additional options, just to make sure we cover everything. In the end we deliberated between 3 hues of blue and orange, after we tested how the color will be rendered on screen and in print.
08. Final presentation
Wait! We’re not entirely done yet. With the final concept, we will prepare a small presentation that includes: Identity overview (how things look in a visual system); 3–4 pages of various applications (business cards, folder, banners, etc.)
09. Prepare deliverables
If you’d like to know exactly what you’ll be receiving regarding deliverables — we will create the following materials that will be delivered in digital format:
ai, pdf, eps, svg, png
Typography (and links)
My tip: I put everything in separate folders, making sure all of my files are appropriately named. Also, I include a “Thank you” note with my business info. This is optional of course.
It was a brilliant journey so far, but there’s one more step to take.
We hit the Send button with all the Deliverables to you. In fact, this can be done via email, as an attachment or via shareable link (Google Drive), or any other way you require.
And we’re done! That is a long journey, isn’t it? Actually, it’s not. You ensure the best quality you can provide and still keep your sanity. Imagine that a big part of this article was the actual discussion with the client. You just bought a TON of value into the conversation and clients will love you for that.
This process is just the tip of the iceberg, and I hope it gives you a more strengthened sense of discipline and what that implies. Write down your process and learn it well. Remember always to improve the ways you are doing things.