Branding in the Design Process. Part 1

#design#workflow

In this article, we’ll cover the beginning of creating the experience – the brand identity.

It may seem that there is only a good designer’s taste and a couple of weeks behind the pixels that we call a design. The truth is that since every project needs a personal approach the designer needs to get to know the business and dedicate some time to find the right inspirations.

The start point

Every design work begins with understanding the project objectives and the client’s business. We inspect briefs filled out by a client, study all the materials we got, stalking the competitors, talk to the client, and google. Oh, we google a lot. There is no such term as “too much data“.

We aim to collect as much relevant information as possible because preparation is a very important part of every project. It is crucial to have an understanding of what we’re going to do before we dive into creating concepts.

Brainstorming

No creative work can be done without brainstorming, right? We like this kind of activity because it’s a great opportunity to come together as a team and spend some time thinking, imagining, making notes, and doodling. We start by discussing the data we have. It is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Then we define the directions of the future style and create some kind of a mind map for ideas that differ too much (if needed). There is always room for some abstract creative thoughts, though. Let ideas flow!

But since it is a part of a process everything should be documented. The best ideas have the honor to go to the summary document where we leave the most relevant and interesting ones that should be discovered later.

Getting inspired

Design is like driving a car. You need fuel (ideas) to start the engine (create a design) and get to the destination (business goals). No fuel means no movement. And by fuel, we mean inspiration – i.e. mood board and references.

So we have defined a few directions to develop. Now what? Let’s begin with a mood board. Originally the mood board is a physical piece where papercuts, fabrics, paints, and photographs come together. It is very exciting but we prefer using Miro and Pinterest because collaboration and flexibility are significant for us. Thanks to a mood board, we can picture and communicate the brand’s values without words. This must be the guide for our design choices that will help us in the design process by visualizing the emotions we want to evoke.

Consistency is fundamental for a good mood board. Different style directions should be reflected on separate mood boards. Color palettes, patterns, font combinations, photos, and illustrations are the basis. We can mix them up, edit, be creative but need to keep in mind the main idea.

Here are some nice example of mood boards ⬇️

A mood board that represents teal color palettes, patterns, font combinations, photos, and illustrations

A mood board that represents blue color palettes, patterns, font combinations, photos, and illustrations

Mood boards are cool and inspiring but we also need references. While mood board expresses the… well, mood 🙂 references show us the way of how to do something. How does it work? We may like the font from some book cover, colors from a retro movie poster, and illustrations from a science magazine. Then we bring it all together, experiment, refine, and get something completely new. That’s how we use references.

Generating concepts

When we have mood boards and references we can start working out concepts. It’s better to have a few to choose from. We strive for complex concepts that evoke emotions, not just colors and font pairings so finding the right theme for the whole brand identity can take some time.

The ideal concept should include:

  • Big idea
  • Logo
  • Color palette
  • Font pairing
  • Style of illustrations or photos.

Here is the example ⬇️

An idea concept that represents blue and orange color palette, font pairing, style of illustrations and photos, and logo

Polishing THAT special idea

When we are ready with our concepts, we can show them to the client. It’s worth remembering that the concept is not a ready-made identity. It only represents the idea and key elements. Sure thing, it could be polished after the feedback session, but this is the essence of collaboration. We refine the concept until it becomes the actual identity.

Brand guidelines

And what happens when the logo, colors, and overall style are accepted? We create brand guidelines. Or a brand manual. Or visual identity guide. Names may differ, but all of them mean the same – we give our clients a handbook to help them use the branding without asking anyone for help.

Our guidelines include:

  • Information about the logo (the idea behind it, how to use it properly, and what is not allowed to do)
  • Typography
  • Colors
  • Imagery style
  • Key graphic elements
  • Examples of usage.

These guidelines are made for people who will be responsible for creating different kinds of content or merch – marketing team, in-house designers, or other design studios. [Click here] ( https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UTmZOoMQ9ztGmMxzj49DOkrrF_rVqE6u/view) if you’re curious how we do it. We can update this handbook later when the website design is ready because there may be some cool examples of usage we may want to include in the manual.

And speaking of websites… We also have an article where we describe our website design process.

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