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The Process of Building a Brand Identity: What to Expect When Working with a Branding Agency

It’s one thing to design your own logo, pick colors, and apply everything to a simple website design. It’s another thing to go through the process of building a brand identity. If your company is in need of brand design, whether you’re just starting out or contemplating a refresh, it’s important to understand what to expect when working with a branding agency. There are countless articles listing steps and promising process, but which process is the right process?

A Defined Process

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First things first, any brand design company you consider should showcase, or at the very least mention, a defined process. They might pride themselves on being innovative or creative, but if they don’t talk about how they achieve (and reproduce) results for their clients, that should be a red flag. The number of steps or phases in the process of building a brand identity doesn’t matter — some keep it short and simple; others get more detailed. A process can’t guarantee success, but it needs to exist.

What that Process Should Include

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The early stage of brand design normally includes research or discovery. This is where learning and information-gathering happens. It’s often the most critical part of the process, because it informs the strategy and decision-making for everything that comes after. You should expect to provide background information and answer foundational questions about the past, present, and future state of your brand.

The next phase should cover the results of that research and provide clear creative direction that guides the execution of the work. It’s important to have an agreed-upon and shared understanding of what you’re going to create.

After that, the tangible creative elements are designed, reviewed, and revised (this is the fun part where everyone sees the fruits of their labor). The final stage involves asset delivery, production, or launch. (This always depends on the preference of the client, whether there’s just a hand-off of files or a physical/digital delivery.)

Setting the Right Expectations

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When evaluating a process, the conversation should include the expectations of both parties. You should expect to be heavily involved in the brand design process. Any team that has one conversation with you, then goes away and comes back with 20 ideas to throw against the wall, has no idea what their design work is supposed to communicate — and that’s a red flag. The same goes for any company that says, “we’ll do as many revisions as it takes to get it right,” which sounds great in theory, but if your brand design agency is going through more than 1-2 revisions, it means they don’t know how to identify the right direction to take. Too many revisions suggests that guess work is happening or the execution is sloppy and there’s a lack of understanding and attention to detail.

The team you hire should act as your guide through the process, explaining each step along the way, so you know where you are, and agree with where you’re both directing the brand.

Designing brand experiences is like an assembly line in a factory; each step is well defined and supports the previous step. The entire process should be designed with efficiency and efficacy in mind. Creativity can’t be manufactured or automated, but it can be harnessed and guided, which is what a good brand design process does. When we meet with clients, we don’t promise the moon or ask for blind trust —  we should all trust the process.

Designing brand experiences is like an assembly line in a factory; each step is well defined and supports the previous step. The entire process is designed with efficiency and efficacy in mind. Creativity can’t be manufactured or automated, but it can be harnessed and guided, which is what a good brand design process does. When we meet with clients, we don’t promise the moon or ask for blind trust —  we should all trust the process.

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