The #1 Key to Good Brand Design + what to look for in a designer
It seems that ever since my design career has come to fruition, everyone I meet (and their cat) is a graphic designer or works in the creative world. To be honest, I love it. It reminds me of when I bought my beloved 2002 VW Jetta and slowly began to nearly exclusively see other silver Jettas on the road. And damn, I loved that car- shout out to Ruby. (Yes, I had a silver car named Ruby; this is a judgement free zone.)
I truly think it’s awesome that there are SO MANY wonderful and talented creatives out there and I feel so incredibly fortunate to be a part of such an all encompassing, supportive community. The best part of being surrounded by so many creatives and designers both in person and online is that we are such a diverse group. Everyone brings something unique to the table through their skillset, experience, and perspective. You can ask for a logo or piece of design work from 1000 of us, and all of us would provide you with something unique. It’s incredible.
I’m writing this post to help those of you who are currently in the client chair, or intend to be in one in the near future. If you’ve never worked with a designer or creative before, it’s really difficult to know what to look for, particularly with regards to your specific needs and/ or project.
The one thing I can say about finding a designer, no matter the project, is that the #1 key to good design (brand design in particular) is STRATEGY.
Strategy should come before ALL else in the design process, especially when we are speaking about designing a brand, or rebranding a company. Your brand + it’s visual aesthetic are the first interaction that your audience will have with your company. This can (and will) make or break a decision to stick around, buy, or enquire. Taking a strategic approach to discovering, defining, and refining these factors is the #1 key to creating a brand that is not only “pretty,” but actually ATTRACTS who you’re after, and will, in turn, stand the test of time in your industry. If your intention as a company is to stay a while, invest in strategic branding now- don’t wait. Kinda like how everyone tells you growing up to start a) investing or b) putting together a pension (LOL what even is…) You get the point. Cause who’s laughing when we’ve all got grey hair? Definitely not me, I’ll tell you that much.
My best tip to find a designer who is willing to sit with you in the strategy part of the work, is to find someone that actually CARES. This is easier to spot than you might think- especially on a phonecall. What questions do they ask you? What is their intake process? How do they do discovery? Now, unfortunately, these qualities are not something that you are going to find in someone you’ve offered $20 and a chocolate bar to do a logo for you. Sorry dude, not happening. This isn’t to say that people who take lower paying jobs are bad designers BY ANY MEANS, we all have to pay the bills, yo! What I’m saying is that you can’t expect someone to do work that you aren’t paying them for.
Here at Honey & Co. we have a relatively heavy intake process for our logo and branding clients. As a sidenote, I want to make it even more intense in the future, which might annoy some client as it means a bit more digging, work, and discovery all around on all parties but LET ME TELL YOU, dear, sweet, client; this. is. worth. it. What we do here is an in depth creative brief (which I’m totally open to doing a dedicated post on) which is basically a big ol’ questionnaire that I have the client fill out for me. It walks them through all sorts of fun questions surrounding their target market, values, mission, colour story, inspiration, goals, hopes, dreams, their favourite cereal (JK, glad you’re still with me though) and so on. After this is complete, we jump on a call together to go over everything in mega dig-deep detail. After the call, it’s time for me to do my own homework on target market, competition, and positioning, and then finally get crackin’ on my moodboarding process, which you can read all about here.
So, strategy is something you pay for, but boy, oh boy, it is one of the most valuable assets you can buy design wise, and will pay off BIG TIME as your company grows over time. So yes, you can absolutely get a beautiful logo from the majority of design folk out there. Man, there is some mad artistic talent out there, I tell ya. But, if you take one thing from this post, I highly encourage you to dig a bit deeper with your designer and shell out for strategy and discovery with regards to your branding. I’m no economics major, but I believe that’s what we call MEGA ROI, y’all.
I hope this helped, whether you’re a designer or new client in the design world!