At Studio Two we believe that “brand” is much bigger than your logo and your letterhead – it’s how you express yourself to the world in all forms. For organizations considering brand development we always start with a fundamental question of “why”? – Why does your organization need a brand? What are we trying to communicate? Who do we seek to reach and transform with our brand?
At the foundation of our brand work is the distillation of values. We believe that at the heart of any great brand is a clear, memorable statement of purpose and value. Nike has “Just do it”. Apple has “Think Different”. Our goal is to bring that kind of clarity to your brand, no matter how complex the ideas behind it.
The graphic expression of brand is, of course, a key product of a successful branding process and must be durable, appropriate and effective in communicating. Our work on brand design builds on the graphic rules and trends that have staying power. We want your logo and brand elements to be timeless and able to remain effective for decades to come. We base our design work not on trends of the moment but long-term, well-established rules of good design.
Our overall process is interactive and inclusive. We seek to hear from a diversity of voices in your organization and to come to grips with fundamental core values as well as the aspirations and visions for the future that any great organization needs to thrive and grow. Our process is transparent – we believe that if our clients “see” the work as it develops and can trace the steps of our decisions that it illuminates the end result and builds towards consensus.
Our process is focused on a successful end result. Sometimes a powerful solution comes up early in the game – other times it takes many iterations and reviews to get to that outcome. To that end we do not articulate a hard-and-fast quantitative element in our proposals (i.e., we will prepare 5 designs, then three, then finalize). We work till we get it right.
Process Steps – Phase I
Prior to our first meeting we will provide you with some basic guidelines towards a valuable branding-discovery process. This will include a request to identify for us compatible organizations in the market, possible competitors or peers, and an favorite or preferred examples of entities or brands that you admire (or don’t!). Gathering these elements will accelerate aspects of our work with you.
Our branding process really begins with the most important first step – discovery. We typically like to meet with as many stakeholders in the organization who are committed to the brand development – and responsible for it – at once, together. As a first step we will give a quick overview to the group of our approach to branding – a focus more on misison and vision than graphic identity at this phase. We then take this group (ideally between 3-7 people) through a process we call “wordplay” – a guided discussion of core values, purpose, vision, history and mission. We guide the group interactively, developing ideas and capturing them on a whiteboard or wall-mount notepads. We review as we move along – returning to the recurring elements to elicit deeper discussion – discovering positive as well as negative ideas, words, and phrases in the process. This process also helps us understand who we will be working with, where there are strong opinions or diversity of ideas in the room, and an opportunity to hear from these voices.
We will conclude the session with a summation of our findings and an analysis of what we heard and are taking away. Our next step is to go back to our studio and begin deconstructing the session and the market-discovery process to see what trends and ideas begin to surface. We will also initiate our own market research component at this time – reviewing and capturing best and worst examples of compatible organizations and their brand components. Being aware of the market space is critical to our process – we believe that as much as a brand should “stand out” it also needs to meet the consumer’s conception for the space. Every industry and group has graphic rules that they need to be aware of. We want to make sure that we understand your particular space as expertly as possible.
At this point we will start our work on designing and articulating your brand. We will begin work on logo and typographic development. We will also begin to compile an image or illustration library that will inform your brand expression going forward. Our focus is not the delivery of a single logo but rather a well-articulated brand “toolkit” that has all the component parts required to deploy the brand into any media space quickly. This toolkit will include fonts, logos, colors, images, text and the rules by which these elements are used.
Once we have the first round of our design process in hand we will setup a review session. This can be done in-person or via skype or other medium. Ideally this session will be attended by a subset of the first group – the 2-3 people who are in charge of the process and empowered to make decisions. The reason for this smaller group is to avoid “groupthink” during this phase. The development of a powerful brand is dependent on a degree of boldness – and often suffers badly in larger groups where consensus tends to water-dwon the bolder ideas. This phase is about playing with riskier ideas – even if they never will see the light of day we want to get the feedback in it’s raw form. Our process is often suprising to us as much as to the client and sometimes the most off-the-wall ideas become the inspiration for the final product.
Based on feedback in Phase II we will begin the preparation of final designs and supporting components. We will take the preferred logo(s), typographic and messaging directions presented in Phase II and put them into final form and layouts. Our work product during this phase will be focused on putting the brand components together into “real world” applications – how do the elements work on a web page, an ad layout, on collateral elements? Our presentation at the end of this phase will demonstrate the preferred elements in final layouts. We will then take the feedback from this review session and begin production design.
We will design all basic corporate collateral – business cards for all employees, letterhead layouts and templates for word or prefferred digital systems, and the creation of the final “brand book” that will articulate the brand components and their rules for useage. We will prepare the brand components in all commonly-used digital formats both vector and bitmap for distribution to your office.
Additional brand elements
Our proposal does not provide for all the potential ways that the brand components may be designated for use. Design and production of production-level artwork for signage, vehicles, presentations, trade show booths, uniforms, displays, etc. will be done either under a new project proposal or hourly based on our attached rate sheet upon request. Generally speaking, once the brand is delivered and finished development of these component elements is an efficient and cost-effective process.
Process – conclusion
We hope this description brings clarity to the branding process we are proposing. We have also provided examples of brand development components and brand books performed for other clients to assist in your decision.
Below are examples of some of our brand “books” that show both the process steps and the outcomes.