Phases of a Successful Branding Engagement

Phases of a Successful Branding Engagement

Phases of a Successful Branding Engagement

Step 1, The Interview & Questionnaire

Once a contract is signed, most clients want to get started immediately and deservedly so. Part of the engagement, for me, is to slow the process down and invoke a different path to thinking the project through more creatively and effectively. At the onset, most clients feel like they already have a vision all mapped out in their head and they just need an artist to create it for them. My job is to make you think about your vision in a different way. Think about your brand, your company’s promise, your mission, your competitors, how you will grow with this brand and much more.

This all takes place in the interview process. I start with a questionnaire. Really basic questions about colors, competitors, favorite brands outside of your own company and so on. The more the client invests into this process, the stronger the support and results for the project will be.

The result of this process is the creating the most important document of the project, a Goal And Strategy (GAS) document. This is where I will create an overall Goal for project as well as define the vision brand. It is clear, concise and to the point. At any point in the engagement, if we start to stray creatively, I will refer back to this Client-Approved document and keep moving forward.

Step 2, Discovery

The discovery exercise is where I dive in head first into your project. I will scour the internet, books, designs, designers, competitors, brands, companies, etc. looking for any type of influence, history or idea which will support your brand’s new definition. Through this process I will start to formulate ideas and thoughts based on the real information from my findings. Where a lawyer has libraries and past cases to prepare briefs and arguments from, a designer must exhaust every avenue of creative influence and historical reference in order to produce effective solutions which support the creative ideas. These discovery phases presents itself to the client in the form of a Mood Board, a visual representation of colors, images, ideas and influences which will be used as the base of your new identity. As with each phase, I ensure we are all on the same page and headed in the right direction. The project will not move forward without the client’s satisfaction and approval.

Step 3, Design

This is the fun aspect of the project. With the Goal defined and the Mood Board approved, I will begin to sketch loosely, form ideas and begin designs in a rough form. Once there are some solid concepts and/or directions, I will then work with the computer, where your initial designs will come to life. In the beginning rounds of design, I will work in black and white. Every great mark needs to do a one of two things, reproduce as one color and scale effectively from down to business card up to the side of a building.

There are typically three rounds of design included in a design engagement. Round 1 presents the initial design concepts in black and white and presents all the directions I have decided to go for your project. Round 2 presents the logo from your desired direction with any refinements or changes your have requested. Round 3 usually introduces typography and color. The logos presented in round 3 typically will be final marks which will now be your company’s new logo.

Step 4, Production

Now that you have a new logo, we need to learn how to apply that new art to your multiple marketing deliverables. Typically, clients need things like stationary, signage, websites, apparel/uniforms, etc. As a part of my packages, I tend to offer a basic stationary package (letterhead, envelope and business card) design with my branding engagements. Your new art has to be designed for all of these different mediums and verified it will reproduce effectively. There is also a very good chance that either the designer or the client may not always work together. As a part of my engagements, I produce a Usage Styleguide for the identity kids I produce. This is basically your brand bible. I previously created a brand checklist I use for my logo projects, but basically I will outline how to use the logo. When, where and how to use the mark, official colors and so on.

The Wrap Up

As much as I would love to think that client relationships last forever, the reality is that they don’t. But in the case that the client would like to take their work and work with another designer or just take the design work in house to their own marketing departments, it’s all very agreeable. Once the work is completed and the financial commitment is fulfilled, I will deliver all art files to the client. You own them at that point.

However, I do like to remain in contact with all of my clients because brands are living things. There is no such things as building a logo or brand and immediately you are going to have brand recognition in the real world. No, that’s not how it works. Building a brand takes work and consistency. Brands are bought, but built up over time. I like to work with my clients on implementing their brands because, if anything, once the logo and guidelines are created, I am so in lock step with the client and brand that I can be more effective in helping implement the brand effectively according the original Goal and Vision.

Branding certainly has many moving parts and can get very overwhelming very quickly. You can hire a designer to create you a logo, or you can hire a consultant who can help define your company’s vision, build and maintain a visual palette for it and implement effectively. These are all the things which build for a solid foundation a successful brand.


Client Dialogue








Wrap Up

Photography: Bonita Taqueria Y Rotisserie

Photography: Bonita Taqueria Y Rotisserie

Photography: Bonita Taqueria Y Rotisserie

Every once in a while, I get a client with a really fun and exciting project. This project in question was for a new Taqueria and Rotisserie which was opening in San Francisco’s Marina District. The client was starting from scratch, so I had a blank slate to work with. I was hired on to consult with them on their branding as well create an online presence.

Why Your Website Could Be Hurting Your Business

Why Your Website Could Be Hurting Your Business

Why Your Website Could Be Hurting Your Business

Carpenters have been building and crafting homes for thousands of years. Sure, technology has played a strong role in making homes bigger, stronger and more structurally sound, but, in the end, a house is four walls and a roof. The carpenter uses his tool box to build that home; hammer, saw, nails, etc. yet, what his imagination and effort allow him to create with those tools is entirely up the him.

You see, your website, your business card, your logo, your perfect location, your great customer service, these are all just tools you have in your tool box which help you build the perfect business you desire. You’re the carpenter and although it’s very easy to lose site of your tools, you need to stand back, take inventory and understand the potential you have in your possession to truly make an impact and create the business you want today. After all, you’re in business for one reason, to make money. If this weren’t the case, then you should close shop or just give your services away for free.

Is Your Website Good Enough

Now, I’d like to concentrate on that one thing you can’t seem to wrap your head around: your website. Although there are a lot of business owners claiming to already have a “good” website, my question would be, have you taken a look at it lately? Probably not, because if you had, you would have noticed that the copyright information is grossly out of date, the front page is broken, the site is talking about products that don’t even exist any longer and you have moved from the location listed, etc. Ok, maybe your site isn’t that bad, but do you know if you have analytics installed on your site? Do you know how many users are visiting your site, per month, per day, per hour? Do you have your Social Media accounts linked to your website? Is there a way for you to convert your visitors into potential customers? If you can’t answer these questions, then you may have a problem. Let’s just test the health of your website with a quick little Q & A.

Q: Is your site optimized for Search Engines?

A. Your site should have a strong defined title, description and set of keywords embedded in the pages. This will help the search engines “find” your content. The descriptions need to be relevant to the content on the page so that you can rank properly. Also, your site must be coded cleanly. Often developers can “hack” a site together, leaving garbled code and poorly optimized, un-tagged images  which can hurt the site’s performance and download time. Bottom line, if the mechanics of your site are bad, the search engine performance and visibility will dramatically suffer.

Q: Do you know what people are looking at/for when they come to your website?

A. If your developer/designer did a good job, they should have installed some type of Analytics on your site. I personally install Google Analytics on each of my sites. It’s easy, contains a massive amount of user/visitor information and best of all, it’s free. By having the analytics on my sites, I can see how many visitors are viewing them, where they are coming from, what other sites are linking to my website, how long the viewer was on my page, what areas they clicked, etc. The list goes on and on, but the reason these analytics exist is because they help developers and site owners understand how their site and content is being used, or not.

Q: Do you have social media accounts and are they integrated with your site?

A. Social Media Marketing should be your key strategy in order to run a budget-friendly marketing campaign. Simply put, there is no easier way to market, promote and effectively win over the the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands, of loyal fans. These are customers who “like” or “follow” you out of sheer desire. They either “heard” of your business or are loyal patrons, no matter, they want know more about your business. Working to engage with your audience on the large social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc., it becomes very simple to drive traffic back to your site and, ultimately, your business.

How Well Is Your Website Working to Make You Money

The main issue is not really about how great your site looks, it’s more about how well is your website built and how is it working to make you money? I have a long list of brands and companies I admire and I will often go and check out their website or Facebook Page. If finding that website is too cumbersome, or the navigation is really clumsy, I lose attention immediately. Look at your site and determine why you are sending users there, what’s the call to action, how can you continue to keep users coming back, how will you engage with your customers and build a larger, stronger following? These are the questions that matter. The answers to these questions will allow you to make better business decisions with your website, allot appropriate budgets and market more effectively.

You must remember that you have tool box full of resources, use them to help build your business and watch it grow. If you’re not entirely sure how to use these tools, then hire a marketing partner or consultant who does, but doesn’t come with an agency price tag. This will be well worth your investment because most times, working with consultants, you will learn from a “hands-on” approach and can eventually take over yourself. In the end, all businesses succeeding is far better than none at all.