My 5 Step Branding Design Process
It's not uncommon for an artist, designer, or other creative to kind of just go with the flow when it comes to their craft. We are known for being free spirited, after all, and creating without a system to follow is par for the course for personal projects.
But when it comes to running a business and working with clients, a creative process is essential.
Lets break it down.
WITHOUT a set design process in place:
-The designer has no direction or creative inspiration, and the project tends to be more based off the designers personal taste rather than what the client wants.
-The client becomes frustrated with the lack of organization
-The project goes much longer than intended, causing extra stress of both the designer and the client
But, WITH a design process in place:
-The client knows exactly what to expect and when from the designer
-There is a clear start and end date for the project
-The designer takes the lead in an organized manner and with a comprehensive vision for the finished product
-The client feels like their hard-earned money has been well spent on a brand that will fit their needs as their business grows
This is why I have come up with a 5 step branding design process that is literally foolproof. Not only do I feel exponentially more confident in my work, but my clients are remarkably more positive throughout the entire project. It's a win-win for the win!
My 5 Step Branding Design Process
2 WEEK TIME FRAME: As a designer, I find it easiest to focus on one client at a time. This gives me the time and brain space to dedicate to one project and stay on track with that particular clients vision. Otherwise, lines can tend to blur between projects. Overall, not only do I create more cohesive brands when I set time aside for one project at a time, but my clients are happier because I have more time for one on one calls and brainstorm sessions thus creating a brand even truer to their needs and style.
So, I reserve a two week block of times for a each client. This allows the perfect amount of time to complete a full brand from start to finish and allows me to give undivided attention to that client and their design project.
After a client has decided that I am perfect for their design needs, we reserve a two week time slot for their project and then they are sent what I call client homework. This is a set of forms and questionnaires that delve deep into their vision, business initiative, and overall brand desires. These help me understand what type of clients they are trying to reach, and what direction they are wanting to take their brand.
When their project start date arrives, I begin my 5 step branding design process that look a little something like this:
Branding Design Process Step One: Inspiration Board
In addition to the questionnaires that I send in the client homework, I also ask my clients to create a private shared pinterest board between the both of us. They pin inspiration to this board including color palettes, images, patterns, quotes, etc that reflect their style and company culture so that I can get a better feel for what they are wanting out of their design.
From the images that they pin, I create an inspiration board. This is a collection of colors, fonts, and other complementary elements that I will use to create their brand. I sent it off to them via my client portal and give my client the option for a revision. This step is completed on day one of the project.
Branding Design Process Step Two: Logo Creation
After I have gathered inspiration that pairs well with the answers from the client homework and the pinterest board that my client has provided for me, I start creating their main logo. I will design three distinct logos for my client to choose from. This provides my client with control over their brand, while still allowing me to design to my highest quality. I allow for 2 revisions in this step, but have found that most clients rarely need them because the three options provide enough variation.
During this step, I also will create a color palette from the inspiration board. I find that it's easier to assemble a cohesive color palette while working with the logo because you can better see how the colors will be used in the brand as a whole rather than just on paper. I allow myself 2 days to complete this part of my process.
Branding Design Process Step Three: Brand Board
This is usually my clients favorite part of my design process because it is the first time they see their brand in action. Their brand board consists of the logo and color palette they chose as well as alternative logos (i.e. favicon, watermark, etc), handpicked fonts, and custom brand icons.
All these design elements are pulled together in a single graphic so they can see their brand as a whole before I apply it to mediums that their clients will see. It's also a great tool for them to reference down the road to ensure that they stay on brand with blog graphics, photography, etc for their business. I offer one revision in this step and have it completed by day 4.
Branding Design Process Step Four: Collateral Design
Now that we have created the bones of the brand, I start applying the design elements to tangible items that my client can use in their business. I let my clients choose three collateral items (business card, postcards, Facebook cover image, blog graphics, etc) to use for their business. These designs can be print or digital, and can be revised once. I give myself days 5 and 6 of the project to complete this step.
Branding Design Process Step Five: Website Design
The last and final step in creating a full brand is designing my clients website. I begin by selecting a squarespace template that bodes well to my clients needs and then I rework the layout to increase its usability for their particular business. I then customize everything with the brand colors and logos, and import the images and copy my client provides for me in their homework.
I create the website in trial mode on my personal account and then once the client has given me the okay, we transfer the site to their personal account. This step is the the final 4 days of the project and then we schedule a Skype meeting where I share my screen to show them through the backend of the site and teach them the ins and outs of how to add blog posts, add new products to their store, etc.
Having a 5 step branding design process has helped streamline my client experience SO much. It not only puts less strain on my creativity, but my clients love it as well because they know exactly what to expect and when. Overall, my projects are finished quicker, and the final outcome is more cohesive. It's literally changed how my business operates for the better and I'm making better work because of it!