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This phase should be as thorough as needed — depending on the depth of research and size of the company. It's the most crucial part of the overall process, and should result in a design brief that guides the rest of the project.
Below is a list of foundational questions and key dynamics to explore and document through qualitative and quantitative methodologies. (Note: This is only a quick overview of the most complex part of this process.)
It's important to have a design (or creative) brief if the brand identity project is bigger than one designer doing work for a small local business. A design brief should contain summaries from the research phase, such as: target audience(s), messaging objectives, values and mission of the brand, and the brand's products/services offering. It should also include budget, project schedule, file formats for delivery, and other practical needs.
After the research phase is complete and a design brief has been created, it's time to start designing the logo and identity system.
There are many ways to start designing a logo, but most often times you'll see designers begin by sketching out dozens if not hundreds of iterations on paper. The process of getting concepts down on paper and then iterating on those ideas can unlock new directions to explore and final solutions that you wouldn't have normally arrived at when starting on the computer. After selecting our best sketched concepts, we'll start iterating on them digitally.
Here's a peak behind the curtain of a few logo concept sketches as they became final digital solutions:
The identity system usually starts after the logo is complete. The purpose of the identity system is to form a systematic visual language around the logo — one that compliments the design thinking of the logo and offers a family of useful, flexible elements that will help to design marketing and business collateral. Here are some examples:
The style guidelines contain and prescribe the logo usage rules, typeface system, color palette, layout guidelines, and more. They exist so that others can create design collateral and marketing materials that will have a cohesive look and voice.
Style guidelines have traditionally been produced as print and web-ready PDFs. They're the core of the identity design, and usually accompany the logo, templates, fonts and other resources packaged together to make designing for the brand easier. Style guidelines are in-depth rules about logo usage, styling, and layout, and are always interesting to browse through.
Lastly, after a new brand identity has launched, it's important to monitor and care for it, as it's a living and breathing thing that interacts with your customers. Honestly, that's a loaded statement as there are many ways to properly care for a brand. Regardless, over time, if your target audience shifts, the market evolves, or the brand's products and services change, it may be time for a rebrand. The main challenge with rebranding is trying to maintain familiarity and consistency so that your customers will remember you.
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