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What is branding?

Branding – it’s quite possibly our favourite part of the job, but the meaning of branding varies depending who you ask and the perceived value changes with that. So in the first of a series of blog posts about the different services we offer I thought I’d explain what branding means to us. How much value an effective brand strategy can add to your business and also to map out how a typical branding project usually runs.

Many businesses think of branding as a logo, in fact a lot of our branding projects start out with the simple request ‘can you design us a logo?’ Though logo design  is often the starting point there is much more to it than that:

The fundamental idea behind the brand is that in everything the organisation does, everything it owns, and everything it produces it should project a clear idea of what it is and what its aims are. The most significant way in which this can be done is by making everything in and around the organisation – its products, environment, communication and behaviour – consistent in purpose and performance and, where appropriate in appearance too.


Wally Ollins in ‘The Brand Book’

What is branding?

  • More than a logo!
  • Something that effects every point of contact with your audience.
  • A discipline which requires not just great design skills but the ability to understand the target audience and communicate your key values effectively to them, great brand strategy pervades everything a company does.
  • Something that that can be communicated visually, which can include logos, graphic devices like textures, illustration style, colour palette, suggested typographic treatments and photography style, our more detailed branding projects can include tone of voice recommendations, document templates and company behaviour too.

So, why invest in your brand?

Okay, so we’ve established that branding is not just about the logo, but isn’t this just your design company trying to make more work for themselves? Well, you’re right that it is more work, however the benefits of investing in your brand can be huge.  At Puree Design we seek to add as much value with our design work as possible. We’ve found countless times that a consistent and well targeted brand has a very positive effect on the perception of a company. Which in turn can drive up leads and ultimately profit. A strong brand can also really help smaller companies punch above their weight.

Understanding our audience, our personality, and our tone of voice, all contribute to establishing our TootCompare brand strategy. Puree has worked hard to strike the right note with our audience and create a strong brand, which sews a common thread through every point of contact.

Karen Rotberg, Director Tootcompare.com

Establishing standard styles and recommendations for your brand can help all of your communications (website, flyers, stationery, brochure designs) sing from the same hymn sheet. Projecting the same core values and style across everything you do. This aids recognition between communication channels and also inspires confidence in your company as a professional organisation (or something more informal, if that is one of your brand qualities!). If these styles are not thought about as a whole, individual designs (especially if they are produced by multiple parties) can evolve to become disparate and weaken the brand as a whole.

The brand strategy and guidelines could be likened to a conductor, making sure that the different members of the orchestra are playing the same tune, when the musicians work together in harmony they sound stunning and really move their audience…

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Logo guidelines, which form part of brand guidelines for Plan my Family holiday

 

Understanding your audience can (and should) fundamentally influence the way you do business. How much our clients have thought about their company as a brand and the audience varies greatly from not knowing who the audience is or what the company should stand for, to full audience personas and a strong sense of brand essence. Whichever it is, a large part of our role is to help you discover and crystallise this so that we know who your brand needs to communicate with and what it needs to say about your organisation.

How we approach branding at Puree Design.

We apply our SEED design process to every branding project to ensure we understand your objectives and those of your audience.

SEED stands for Study, Evolve, Evaluate, Deliver, and it’s how we describe our design process – there is a big emphasis on understanding the business, audience and objectives and this early research helps us create something truly meaningful.

Study:

A typical branding process starts with our SEED questionnaire where we establish your key goals, the deliverables and we help you to create audience personas – this is a part of the process our clients often find particularly helpful as it helps them clarify who they are speaking to, and what their needs might be, which is surprisingly easy to lose sight of as a business. We come back to these personas throughout the process to measure the success of a design, putting ourselves in their shoes in order to determine if the design would fulfil their needs and appeal to them. This avoids design that panders too much to fads or personal preference of individual stakeholders.

Depending on the level of detail your particular project requires, we can also conduct brand essence workshops to distil the companies personality into a set of values that we can weave in to your visual communications.

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We’ll also undertake desktop research to help us understand your competitors and the market you operate in. This helps us identify if there is any industry wide aesthetic and helps us establish if we need to conform to fit within that market or to set your organisation apart from a homogenous industry landscape by doing something different.

Evolve:

Having established the context of competitors, brand essence and audience we begin the evolution of the visual brand elements.

The design process is usually an evolution of ideas and we often produce many ideas and combinations, gradually evolving them to a minimum of three directions to review with the client. We ‘show our working’, so you can see how we’ve arrived at the recommended route.

Evaluate:

Even though we’ve done all that research, we appreciate that you are still best placed to understand your business and it’s audience, so your feedback is a vital apart of the evaluation process. We also dip back into our research and measure the success of our outcomes against the key objectives and see if they ring true with the audiences we’ve established. We often go between evolution and evaluation many times before we are satisfied that an outcome is striking the right chord.

Deliver:

When we’ve checked that our design measures up to your objectives and speaks to the right people, and of course that you are happy, we tighten up any last details and produce all of the assets you’ll need going forward. Of course this includes a brand guideline document that makes it easy for everyone in your organisation to use the brand elements correctly and effectively going forward.

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Branded assets for Another World Adventure

 

Here are a few examples of branding projects we’ve worked on recently:

The Funding Room – An exciting brand project where we had the opportunity to help this tech start-up find and communicate it’s personality, working in partnership with Ellen D’Vries of the Copy House, brand language and visual brand guidelines were created. We established a strong illustration style, colour palette and logo which encapsulated the brand essence established in early workshops. We have gone on to apply these guidelines to numerous pieces of design including the WordPress website design, illustrations, stationery and  skins for Facebook and Twitter.

Tootcompare.com – An extensive branding project, which involved brand workshops with key stakeholders to establish the personality of the brand as well as defining key audience personas. From these early stages we were able to develop a logo and style that we have helped apply to the website and online ads.

NetBin – A smaller budget branding project where we quickly established a logo, sub-brands, style guide and visual language for a tech company working with smart refuse collection systems and other Internet of Things applications

Puree Design is here to help with your branding project:

From new start-ups still finding their identity, to established companies seeking to refresh or rebrand, we can help. Puree has a number of branding packages tailored to different budgets and requirements. Every project is different and we look forward to having a chat about how we can help with yours. Whether you have done the ground work and are clear on your audience profile and brand personality, or if you’d like us to lead you on a voyage of brand discovery…

Drop us a line today and we can help you establish a brand that makes the right impression…

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