Developing a brand identity requires creativity. This can seem a bit mystifying, especially if you don’t consider yourself a creative type. How is the sausage made? What is involved?
Creativity requires thoughtfulness, and time for those thoughts to develop. In branding this means being able to truly understand the message you are trying to get across and spending time necessary to develop good ideas, then evaluating alternative design approaches, concepts, or treatments.
This step normally involves interviews with key employees and management in order to gather information and confirm and clarify expectations. Associations will be investigated, and concepts and ideas discussed and reviewed. Competitors’ branding will be reviewed and analyzed and admired branding solutions will be investigated. If a message brief has been prepared, then a lot of background information will be available and will be used as the basis for the design research.
Once enough basic design research has been completed, concepts will start to be developed. This is the ideation phase. How individual creatives approach the development of ideas will certainly differ. However, those who make a living coming up with creative ideas all the time have each found some sort of process that works for them. Associations are an important starting point; at this stage, brainstorming concepts and developing a large number of ideas dominate. Once deeply engaged, some designers find it helpful to then step away and engage in low level unrelated activities and not actively think about your project as a way to set the subconscious free to tackle the problem. Often, very good ideas present at this stage. Who has not had a moment of insight come to them in the shower?
Once enough ideas have been generated and mulled over, the most promising can be sorted from the rest and things can move to the next phase.
Here, a range of concepts or ideas will now be fleshed out and developed. In the design world the notion of resolving design issues is common; this is where a potentially good idea or concept presents design problems that now must be overcome if the concept is to work. A lot of effort is spent here making many seemingly minor adjustments to overcome issues and get things just right.
This concept refinement stage will further hone in on the strongest ideas. As problems are discovered in the weaker brand directions, a good design team will know when to cast them aside in favor of the more promising options. The end of this stage should leave you with fewer, stronger ideas that show promise but remain not fully developed.
Concept Review and Selection
Once these initial options have been developed they should be placed in context and presented to you for your review and feedback. Here it is important to not base your feedback on your own personal preferences but rather on your stated objectives with a view to how the design elements will play for the intended audience. Some additional refinement may be required, but often one of the presented options will gain favor right away.
Once the final option has been selected, further refinements will be made to get the artwork absolutely perfect. Pre-flight files will be developed ready for final delivery. This simply means cleaning up files by removing unused artwork and ensuring various versions of the artwork are consistent and that all colors and line weights are correct and any stray anchor points are removed. Files are prepared for print and web, sized appropriately and at the right resolution.
Once the brand identity deliverables are finalized they can be presented and handed over. This final presentation should be a review of the final artwork and all the files that have been developed, and provide guidance on when, where, and how to use these.
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