As an Art Director specialising in Branding, my approach to any project considers thoroughly how the design will function both digitally and environmentally. Brand Design, indeed, needs to be organically functional, must be transferrable across different media — which may include exposure in public spaces such as a lobby — whilst remaining memorable.
Your Business’s Visual Identity is your most efficient ambassador: as it will shape your audience perception of what you do and how you do it. You can’t leave that simply to guesswork.
The First Steps To Business Branding
To a degree, a Designer is a little bit like a doctor. I am often asked to give a diagnosis of an issue. This issue is most likely a lack of clarity towards the organisation’s identity and its strengths within the market. And we — as AdCraft’s Team of Designers, in collaboration with business experts — go through a process of research that is both inwards and outwards. We always start by looking at data and market research. However, our experience tells us that to create a lasting, performative Visual Identity, you must also dig deeper.
We ultimately want to thoroughly understand what the organisation does, what vision the people internally have, and to what degree of conformity. When we deal with smaller businesses or start-up organisations, we often find that our team needs to suggest stretching that vision in order to be forward-thinking. Branding Design is not a short-term game. It is shaping a bigger picture for your Company. And to this purpose, a Visual Identity must be liquid.
Is Professional Branding Really worth it?
To know your Business’ values and strengths is not the only condicio sine qua non (indispensable condition). You must also be able to communicate it effectively and transversally. Too often, I see businesses without visual consistency. A Branding is not just a Logo. It is an all-encompassing kit of parts: from Typography to Layout, From Graphic Elements and Icons to Color Palette and Photography – including Ads, Posters, Merchandising, Animation, Brochures, Mailers, Web Design or App Design and all Marketing collateral.
When a connector or an element of recognisability, is missing, the Brand looks dishevelled.
As you would not introduce yourself to a new client looking unkept, the same thing should be valid for your Business’s Visual Identity.
The Power Of Branding Systems
Large organisations may have more means to maintain this consistency. The reality is, however, that Branding Design is very rarely executed by the same person. For this reason, a Brand Specialist designs a system to be managed homogeneously by an in-house art department, advertising agencies as well as clients themselves.
The key to creating Branding Systems as such is to reduce complexity. The more complex and diversified the design, the more it is challenging to maintain consistency across the different platforms. Not to mention that Organisations often go under structural changes — expansions, merges, new management, new products, other markets and so on. Therefore, to maintain a recognisable identity even after a Business has evolved, Branding needs to be versatile.
A Visual Identity is made of a kit of parts. A kit of parts is your Business graphic language that you’re using as an identifier — as a vector to convey information and your Business’s quality. It needs to be simple because it requires functionality in every context —small, large, digital or analogical – architectural even, in some cases.
It is not only about good design skills; a Branding System must interact (and integrate) within all aspects of the organisation and its marketing strategy beyond aesthetics alone. The main criteria must be recognisability and communication because even if you need to apply this system to a new product or a new affiliate company, with slight changes, you will have a guideline to know what belongs and what not.
Most importantly, when we create a Visual Identity, we show our clients the process of creating a visual statement, so they can truly own it – and it is not just something passive that has happened without their input or control.
Without owning your identity, there is very little room for growth.
For the power of branding to do its job, it needs to be impactful and inspire trust. But most importantly, it needs to set the right expectations within your Audience. So, metaphorically speaking, if you are a conservative person who values tradition, you probably won’t wear punk clothes. And vice versa. On many occasions, I got presented with a situation where a Business had an inconsistent look. Sometimes it is an easy fix; sometimes, it needs a makeover. In both cases, it is potentially very damaging to present your organisation with an inappropriate look. As said, this goes beyond aesthetics alone. For example, suppose you are selling high-end, luxurious beauty products, but you visually demonstrate your Business as unpolished. In that case, you will create a huge misunderstanding within your ideal clientele – and you will end up with bargain hunters customers objecting to your high prices.
To recap, the first step to build a Branding that delivers is to admit you are not trained to see – as yet. Then, finding a Brand Specialist whose portfolio you admire is a smart move.
At AdCraft Studio, we offer a no-strings-attached free consultation to assess your specific situation and provide a realistic solution based on our expertise. Feel free to book out a consult with another agency or with us, but do not miss the chance to improve your visual communication and to make your Branding responsive.