The approach I take for almost all of my logo and identity projects includes the four stages of research, creative strategy, design, and implementation.
The type of research depends on the task, but I always look at your market conditions as well as audit the competition and comparable brands. Discovering how your competitors market themselves makes it easier to set your brand apart.
Knowing your vision for the next five or ten years is particularly helpful because it’s easier to develop context that futureproofs the work. Also of use is to know how you think design will help you. This gives me a better understanding of your design knowledge so I can explain things in the most appropriate way.
Another beneficial step is to uncover best-practice brands — companies with strong positioning in terms of what they stand for — who are either in the same or a similar sector, and it can also help if you mention a particular brand that isn’t doing something right, using this as an example of what to avoid.
Creative strategy is essentially about having a plan, and finding logic in the observations from the research stage. When the plan is clear, the chances of success are high, because we know what needs to be done to achieve the desired result.
The outcome is a creative brief that needs your agreement before moving to the next stage. A typical brief includes an introduction to your business, the project objectives, the sector context including the different audiences involved, and where you see your brand in years to come.
The brief is essentially a framework to ensure that nothing goes wrong in the creative interpretation. It acts as a benchmark that every design decision can be tied back to.
The design time changes depending on the project scope. While a lot of ideas are considered, I usually present just one or two — never more than three. Limiting the number of outcomes saves you time, and it’s rare when clients want to spend more for several ideas. In fact, as the creative strategy has already been approved it can be normal when a single design direction is the outcome.
My presentations are crafted using Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, and the work is ultimately shown through a PDF file for discussion. I’ll use various mock-up tools to share how your new logo or identity looks in context, such as on signage, stationery, uniforms, social media profiles, vehicle livery, etc.
Your thoughts on how everything aligns with the project goals are necessary, and there’s always scope for revision. As long as the work is driven by the creative strategy, there are rarely any major objections.
Everything is designed to ensure that implementation is as efficient as possible. For example, if a brand gallery — a collection of photos for use in marketing material — proves to be a useful tool, but a client doesn’t have the budget for bespoke photography, I can work on sourcing a variety of royalty-free images, or if a client has multiple offices around the world I can prepare identity guidelines for distribution, helping to ensure a consistent appearance in every location.
I always remind clients to check with me if they’re unsure about implementation, even if it’s many months after the project is complete. Some clients ask me to be a brand guardian for a few months post-launch, where I review the work done by their in-house teams, or where I act as an in-house designer until a team is formed.