You are your brand. Your brand represents you. As a business owner, you, as in your brand, is your business. If you work for someone else, then they will be dictating the brand. It’s impossible to have a truly authentic brand that is not aligned by the values of the business owner. There will be a misalignment internally, whether with behaviour or procedures. Which then translates to being out of line with the brand values.
Most people think a brand is a logo. The logo is really the tip of the iceberg. It’s the end of the journey. Before you even get on the road, you need to know what you stand for. Here is where the values work comes in.
Most of the time, businesses would hire a branding agency to work with them on the brand value development. This costs budget and takes time and expertise. Hiring the right agency that understand the type of culture and industry nuances is important, if you want to stand out from your competition.
In this current age of templates, every working designer has access to a plethora of creative work that can be passed off brand development. This makes hiring the right creative agency or freelancer critical to the quality of your final result. While brands are tweaked over time, rarely are they given a complete overhaul. Invest wisely in the early days, and you won’t need to change it later.
A brief is the single most important piece of communication that you can give a creative person. Any creative. Photographer, graphic designer, web developer, stylist, basically anyone who has to come up with a visual representation of the ideas that are in your head. Without a brief it’s a laborious task and a stab in the dark. Help the people you hire please you by first figuring out what you want out of the project. The briefing process does this. No, it’s not obvious and no two humans have the same imagination.
A good briefing document will challenge you to think deeper passed the obvious. It’s not repetitive, it’s about the depth. Those deeper layers are what gets you a good result. Going through the detail in the early stages will save you money and speed up the overall process. Most clients get very impatient once they know the team have started work. The better and more comprehensive the information in the brief, the more efficient and effective the creatives will be at conceptualizing the work. Think of their task as having to filter an infinite number of ideas down to the three or four that gets presented to you.
Then. Give. Them. Space. To. Work. There is nothing more creatively restricting than being harassed and micro-managed. I’ve always managed branding and design but even as a writer, if I haven’t had a chance to work through my own ideas, I am in no position to present them as solutions. Designers are not miracle workers. They need to think, ponder and experiment. This takes time and space. Leave them alone. Understandably, you feel you have communicated your bit, and you are eager to see it come to life. Agree the timings in advance and go and do your other work.
During the presentation of concepts, the first thing you’ll feel is a like or dislike to what you see. Probably quite strongly. This is probably the most difficult part of the process. Stop listening to your own thoughts. Stop tuning in to your emotions and start actively listening to what is being presented to you and how it represents the information you put in your brief. The last thing any creative wants to hear is “I just don’t like it!”. Be specific and objective on which aspects do not work to signify the elements in the original brief. Without this detail, there is no development. There’s just more stabs in the dark while the designer tries against the odds to pinpoint your exact thought and turn it into a visual.
Eventually, you will get to a point that you will be so excited by how your brand is the embodiment of everything you want your business to represent, you will want to rush the next step.
Managing your brand is just as important as creating it properly in the first place. Your design team will create a manual that details all aspects of how the brand should be used and applied. Quality in any product, service or industry is measure by consistently delivering a high standard that meets or exceed expectations. When you visit a restaurant and the food isn’t as good as your last visit, you become a disappointed customer. At some point they failed on the delivery.
The only way you will be able to deliver your brand well is by being consistent on the delivery. This is what your brand manual does for you. In your brief, make sure you have detailed all the possible future applications of the brand. Even if you don’t need them now, having the guidelines will ensure that everything you need looks professional and uniformed.
Finally, you are ready to express yourself and your business through your brand. Make sure every single customer touchpoint features your branding as well as the correct usage. Police it closely within the business and be proud of what you have produced!