Original date this was wrote: May 22nd 2015.
So today I’ve been working on a branding project for my good friend and filmmaker Michael Lee Toas, if you’ve read any previous blog posts, especially “A Portent Reverie” you would have seen his name here before. No the image above is not for MLT productions I’m still working on that and don’t want to post it online until I’ve got to a point where I’m happy with it.
But it did get me thinking about what my top-tips for creating a brand would be and I’ve got to say there isn’t a definitive formula it’s just finding what works best for you, so take this with a pinch of salt.
My first point would be to make sure you’ve done your research, I know it sounds boring and I usually can’t wait to start creating stuff but the research really does improve what you create, it shows direction and you’re more likely to get it right in the first couple of times rather than the first thousand times. What I usually do within the research stages is to look at competitors, mind map the company then start bringing in images that are relative to my findings. More recently I’ve started sending clients surveys that help breakdown the company by asking questions such as their mission, ethos and all that stuff. I then try to follow it up with a face-to-face discussion, get a feel for the atmosphere they work in and basically see if there’s anything I may have missed within my survey, more often there’s something that can be used that you won’t find out by a survey.
When it comes to creating a logo I try to consider the logo as only 20% (at most) of the project, if everything else like their printed materials etc. doesn’t fit in with the logo it can have a really bad impact; believe me I know. Sometimes depending on the size of the project I would put the logo on the back burner halfway through then work on the rest so that I know everything fits together. You can also do this if you’ve hit a wall and let the other material you produce feed back into the logo.
Simplicity can more often be the solution; it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the design itself but in the process, getting the right impact with the least amount of elements. It’s kind of like golf – get the ball in the hole with the least amount of swings. I personally find this useful cause I can have a tendency to over-think, if you do this with design sometimes you could end up over-working the brand and end up making the outcome look forced and uneven. I read an article once that stated that you should be able to easily sketch a good logo; the point of this was that it’s easier to remember than a complicated logo – just think of some big brands and see how easy they are to sketch.
Another personal point for me, mainly due to time working with Adobe After Effects. Is that at the sketching stages of a branding project I would consider how certain elements would be animated; even if that wasn’t stated within the brief. It helps me to identify how versatile a logo or/and branding elements within the projects are. I would usually create a little storyboard for a promotional video or generative web graphic that has helped me deconstruct my ideas, look at other possibilities and consider a brands approach to multi-media.
My final point for this post would have to be never NEVER! Think you’ve finished. I joke but at the same time there is some truth to this; even if it’s not a request for amendments a brand can be so organic within a business that you can find yourself taking on a re-brand as the direction of the company changes. My best solution to this is to keep this in mind when creating a brand identity and if possible try and give your designs some space to evolve. for example with Sound Particle Labs we created the typography to also work as a way of identifying the brand so that graphical elements can be dropped in the future if the company takes a different direction.
So there you have it, some of gr-if’s top-tips for creating a brand. Please feel free to pitch in your own tips, as I would love to hear them.