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Understanding The Brand Process

What do we mean when we talk about brand process? If you are about to begin this process with us, you may wonder what to expect. Ultimately, it means building the identity of a business from the foundations upward. Here we will go into detail about the steps involved and what we have to offer – clarifying our process. This crucial period of research and creation is what will propel a new or evolving company forwards into their chosen market, towards their target audience.

An exciting time for any client who is ready to meet their potential!

It’s not easy to assign a set process to brand development because it is so different every time. At Teapot Creative we work with such a variety of companies; vibrant youthful companies and refined professional companies; brand new companies who need everything, and established companies in need of a refresh. There are certain steps that need to be hit over the course of the brand process, but overall, we find that it’s best to not try to fit the process into a template. Ultimately, each brand process will be as unique as the client, but let’s look a little further at what is broadly involved.

The Initial Meeting

This is where we meet with the client to find out about their needs. It is one of the most important stages because, while there may be many things that the client anticipates, we almost always walk away from the meeting with a rather different ‘to do list’ than may have been expected! Often, changing one aspect of a brand identity will impact other areas, so this part of the process is crucial in allowing us to build an overview of the brand identity, and paint a clear picture of how it will function as a whole.

Brand identities can at times be more complicated than clients expect. Yes, of course you can just have a logo made and that may be the full extent of it, but ultimately that logo may not work very hard for you without delving a little further. Research, analysis and a full brand development have a great deal to offer when it comes to creating a strong brand identity.

Having said that, at times we do walk away from an initial meeting, having told the client that they don’t need a full rebrand and that a bit of a refresh is the best way forward, avoiding unnecessary expense. To get this assessment just right, we will talk through why the client is seeking brand work, the problems that they have come across that lead them to seek our help, and the solutions that they hope to achieve.

As we get an idea of the means that will make that magic happen, to create that perfect brand identity, we will discuss our various brand packages and the different levels of detail that we could explore. Our smallest level of brand package wouldn’t be useful for a large company and our highest level would be unnecessary for a small one. For us, it’s always about finding the right package to suit the client’s needs.

The Brand Development Begins

Sometimes just a logo is exactly what is called for, and our skilled graphic designers are always ready to delve into the world of logos! A client who operates as a one-man-band window cleaner is probably only ever going to use a logo on the side of their van and perhaps a business card, so their design requirements are going to be relatively small scale.

For those seeking more complex brand development, we will take the information learnt from the initial meeting and construct a detailed plan. We perform competitor research and analysis, looking at what the client’s direct competitors are doing with their brands. We make notes on what they appear to be doing right, or wrong, and observe any trends that appear.

If it is an unusual or very niche company, for example a therapist with a focus on older women, we will look at a few different areas that can help us get to know the market area that applies. In this case, we would look at therapists, and brands aimed at older women to get to grips with what was going to be the most effective approach.

At this step in our journey together we will deliver a presentation for our clients and walk them through exactly how we arrived with the suggestions we are presenting, sharing our conclusions on what direction the client should take. This will include colour schemes, symbology and font type, and sometimes company name. Each of these areas have a powerful impact on the brand identity and the way the company is ultimately perceived.

The Power Of Each Element

Colour semiotics and symbolism are a fascinating area of research that investigates how we as people see colour, both literally and metaphorically. It is no coincidence that brands in certain markets frequently rely on the same colour schemes. This is partially due to the knowledge that certain colours make us feel a certain way;  such as green for calm, or red for passion, however it also comes down to the fact that we consume so much visual information from brands on a daily basis, that we have actually come to associate brands with particular colour palettes with certain qualities. Dark blue is associated with being trustworthy, yellow as approachable, orange as youthful, black is luxe, and so on.

As with colour, we associate certain fonts with certain things because we absorb so much information about them through osmosis. While we might not be aware of it, fonts are also chosen for very specific reasons. Serif fonts are often selected for a more traditional look; sans serif fonts are considered more contemporary; while handwritten fonts give a more personal touch. The function of fonts can run surprisingly deep, with the shapes of certain letters having specific connotations. This is also true of symbols, icons, and all of the other elements that make up a logo.

With this information filling up the customised tool kit we create for each client, we begin to develop a few routes that the client could go down for their brand identity. This will show colour palettes, font decisions and, of course, the logo itself. The next step is to show these logos ‘in the wild’. What does ‘in the wild’ mean you may ask? This means mocking up a view of our designs on brand assets to show how they could look in the real world. This makes it far easier for clients to visualise their potential brand identity, making it possible to imagine how they and others will interact with it.

This mock-up could include business cards, letterheads, signage, simple website layouts, vehicle signage, billboards, t-shirt prints, and anything else that is relevant to that specific company. The design package is put together as a PDF presentation and either sent direct to the client with a brief explanation of what awaits inside, or presented in person, depending on the level of package and the type of client. Once we have their feedback we will work together to perfect their chosen route.

The brand guidelines

Once a brand identity has been chosen, we will often put a Brand Guidelines document together for the client. This is a handy guide that sets out how the how the brand should be used in any and all situations and goes through everything from brand values, logo use, colour use, typography, and image use, to icon use, and shows examples of how it should all come together.

Having a guide to provide to internal staff who are making branding decisions and external design agencies makes it easier to maintain and convey a streamlined identity.

Many business owners are wary of brand guidelines documents because they can feel constricting. A good one however will allow you to be as free as you want, while making it easy to stay on-brand. This step is not necessary for every company but is well worth considering.

Into The Wild

Now that the client has their new brand identity and everybody has agreed on how it will be used, it is time to start applying it to actual assets! We will work with each client and their suppliers, such as printers, signage makers, magazines, media companies, or social media companies, to produce artwork.

The relationship each client shares with Teapot Creative doesn’t have to end here, as we are always on hand to help you out along the way should you need us. We look forward to seeing your new brand identity take flight!

About Luke

If I’m not making nice things for the print and digital worlds, I’m probably talking about dinosaurs.

Give us a call on 01460 281865 or email us to see how we can help you!