I’m an artist and graphic designer specialising in brand design. Running a design business is more often than not akin to keeping several plates spinning at once. Putting processes in place is essential to enable you, as a designer, to be efficient at juggling several clients at any one time. I personally try and limit the number of active projects I have at any one time to ensure I can fully commit myself to each of my clients.
Having a process in place helps things run smoothly and keeps both the client and designer accountable for deadlines and ensures the finished products are delivered swiftly and the ball rolling at all times.
Our complete client brand design process step by step:
After the initial consultation with me it is important to establish who your design is intended for. Depending on where your business is in terms of branding and how established it is will determine this phase of the process e.g if your company already has an established brand personality and strategy we can fast track this bit whereas if you are just starting out it is important we visit who it is you want to target.
questions i’ll ask:
+ what is your ideal customer?
+ what is their occupation
+ what is their marital status
+ what are their interests and hobbies
These may seem like oddly specific questions but thinking about who exactly you are trying to target as an individual rather than a group of people can help clarify things and help gauge exactly the kind of person this design needs to attract. Quite often clients haven’t really thought about this in depth, they might have a general idea of who they want their target audience to be but asking more direct and specific questions can clarify the target audience giving everyone a better idea of what they’re working with.
The next and equally as crucial step in the brand design process is filling in a design brief. The purpose of this paperwork is to give the client a chance to communicate what exactly they are envisioning and well as what they are and are not attracted to and what visual elements they want incorporated within the design. Doing this as a preemptive process makes the initial face-to-face (or remote) meeting more efficient and productive.
questions i’ll ask:
+ what colours/colour palette are you drawn to?
+ do you have any typography preferences?
+ what visual elements do you want included in your design?
A design brief is the skeleton of the project if you will; it gives both parties something tangible to refer back to throughout the process and provides a strong foundation for me as a designer. I also ask clients for their dislikes because knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do when alining the balance between their vision and what will work for their market. I know this seems like a lot of paperwork and time but it is important to have as much information as possible before the design process starts because it will just make the entire process run a lot smoother.
While questionnaires are the backbone of the design process, it helps considerable to have a visual representation to refer to when it comes to piecing together your design. I ask my clients to create an inspiration board either on Pinterest or even just send me some visual examples over email at the very beginning along with the design brief. This helps relay colour palette preferences, typography, visual elements even better making for a stronger foundation pre production and makes it easier to create a design I know my client will love.
I encourage clients to pin anything and everything they are drawn to – shapes, elements, colour combinations, typography, everything! The more pins the more I get to understand what visual elements my client is envisioning for their brand and ultimately create a better design. Less is not more when it comes to pre production planning and communication – more is more!
example of a pinterest inspitation board:
This step isn’t mandatory as I will create my own mood board in the next step basing my inspiration from your design brief as inspiration moving forward into the initial pre production sketches. Creating your own beforehand really helps speed up the process however!
what is a branding mood board?
A mood board is a collection of visual elements such as images, colours, text, typography and photographs based on the initial design brief, my own creative research as well as the pinterest board. These collated elements will be a combination of digitally attained arrangements as well as physical as I like to begin all of my work on paper. All elements are refined and pre approved by my client before moving onto the latter stages of the process to filter anything they dislike out. This will help put together an overall style or concept in which further work will then be based around. A mood board is a safety net.
I gather all of the information from my clients pinterest board and take elements form it that I think will align well with their brand. There will more than likely be elements that will not work and we can discuss this in more detail during the next step but I digress. The idea of a designer’s mood board is to communicate my interpretation of my clients ideas. The communication stage pre production is crucial in getting the best end result. There will come times where clients will have ideas and visions that just won’t work for the project they want to commission me for and this communication will prevent hiccups further down the line.
Once the planning and consulting phase is over now starts the first round of pencil to paper designing. All aspects of the design will begin in pencil and provide the framework for the project.
The creation of the colour palette and typography tends to tie in during the assembly of the mood board. Normally clients will have quite a strong idea of the way they want to go with the colour plaette with one or two shades they definitely want incorporated and I base my palettes around that. If not then the pinterest board should portray their taste rather well so this step is normally quite free flowing and unproblematic.
I have a template sheet that I transfer around three separate colour palettes for my clients to choose from.
As far as typography goes, I design my own fonts for my branding and logo design to ensure that every one of my clients receives a bespoke design. I ask for examples of text styles the like and take inspiration from those as well as the overall theme of the brand. Like the colour palettes; I normally make a couple of variation sketches for them to choose from.
Once the colour palettes, typography and creative elements have been agreed I will begin creating concept designs on paper. This process takes the longest out of all the steps because I like to take my time to really get creative transferring my designs from sketchbook to screen. Once I have some solid foundation I will create some draft concepts consisting of a 3 unique designs for my client to choose from. More often than not I will include a couple of variations of each design say maybe a slightly different element placement or colour for example.
Once these concepts are complete I will email them over along with some question prompts to ensure I get the most useful feedback I can from my clients. The more specific the answers to these questions the better!
questions i’ll ask:
+ what do you like/dislike about each design?
+ what elements do you like\dislike about each design?
+ what stands out most to you?
+ is there anything you would add/take away?
+ what is an other logo you really like?
After client feedback it is very much a to and fro with a few cycles of revisions for review and revision to get it perfect before I move onto the final steps of the brand design process.
Once the main logo design work has come together I will move on to the last stage of the design process and design the branding assets and put together a Branding Style Board which is the final design step.
what does a style board include:
+ main logo
+ colour palette
+ secondary logos
+ different colour combinations
+ font combinations
+ any client specific extras
+ graphic elements
A Branding Style Board is essentially collating all of the design features agreed during the entire process into one place, in this case a single document. I have a specific template for this step to keep things united. The reason for this is to make things easier for you client in the future by putting every design element of their brand in one place should they need to hire a different designer in the future. Being able to refer back to the original design features will ensure your client and their brand can keep their designs cohesive.
In addition to this there is also be a multitude of social media and website assets to design. This step is the most in terms of volume although usually this step is the quickest because the main chunk of the work has already been done.
Finally the project is a wrap! Once everything is finished and agreed the files will be transfered over to the client. I tend to use Dropbox for this as it’s a lot easier than other methods due to there being no limit on file sizes.
what you’ll receive:
+ any secondary logo designs
+ social media assets (usually Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
+ websites assets
+ various other brand collateral (business card designs, letter headers, watermarks, packaging designs, merchandise designs etc)
+ mood board
+ branding style board
If you need helps regarding the types of files I send please refer to my article on Design Basics | File Formats where I briefly explain the different file formats you may receive.
Any specific resizes will also be included – there is a section in the design brief where you can request specific dimensions.
This isn’t necessarily a specific step in my brand design process but it is something that I will ask my clients after their project is complete. Testimonials are important for my own brand and more often than not my clients will be more than happy to provide me with one! It’s also a great opportunity to receive constructive criticism and highlight areas to work on yourself.