Updated: Sep 10, 2019
A few days ago I stumbled upon a blog post about how to build a brand. The author, who is the owner of a "branding" company, wrote a list of things you should do in order to build a strong brand. She started the post with "let's start with design..."and continued writing about how design is the first thing you need to work on when building a brand.
Unfortunately, she got it wrong and she is not the only one. As much as good design is important, it is not the first step for building a brand or rebrand. In the branding process, design comes at the end, only after there is a clear brand strategy.
Many companies sell you this notion, that you need a new logo, that your identity system is not good enough and that branding is all about design. No wonder so many have been burned before. You probably heard, or even worst, said yourself something along the lines of "I paid a fortune for branding, we have a beautiful logo, but nothing changed with our bottom line", or “we built really great looking identity system for us, but our online sales are still really low". This is because a logo is not your brand and design can't solve your business problems, no matter of how good it is.
Don’t get me wrong, I love design and I do think it’s highly important, I myself was in design for years and have a design company, but good branding is NOT about design, it’s about feelings. Branding is creating a feeling, a thought, at the right customer’s mind, just design can’t do that. Design is actually just the execution.
Before you go for design, you must do a lot of preliminary work, from research to definitions. To build a brand you need to first, define it, make sure it has a personality, a voice, a purpose. Find out what are the benefits your brand gives to the customers, define those customers, understand how they want your brand to make them feel. That is the bare minimum and sometimes it takes a long time over many uncomfortable meetings, but only after you do this, you should go to the design process for your logo, identity and so on. Here are two tips that will help you find the right designer: 1. Look for a designer or a design agency that have a graphic style that can represent your brand's personality and customers needs the best. Designers will convince you to go with what they are comfortable with, so you need to approach only those who their works look like what your brand needs. 2. Do not hire a designer who tells you that you need a logo which is "on trend", even if your brand is all about being on trend. Brands don't follow trends and this logo will be obsolete fast. Remember, it's not about how good your logo looks, it's about the right design to represent your brand's personality.