It’s so frustrating when I see amazing business owners not taking the time to dive into their brand strategy BEFORE designing. But I get it, when you’re starting out it’s easy to fall into the trap of picking a few colors, purchasing a pre-made logo, and calling it a day. The problem is, if you cut straight to the design without gaining clarity on the foundation of your brand’s identity, your designs will not help you convert viewers to customers… even if they are pretty.
Think of your branding like a house. You shouldn’t build a house without a well-thought blueprint, and you shouldn’t design a brand without an intentional strategy.
Before you design anything (or even make decisions about your brand colors) you need to have a solid understanding of what it is you’re trying to communicate. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I put together a list of some deep-digging questions to help you gain the clarity you need to design an effective and strategic brand identity.
Who is the person you’re doing all of this for? The person you want to help. Your “dream client”, if you will. What do you know about them? What do they like/dislike?
Think about your their struggles. How is it that you help them? Why do they go searching for you in the first place? How are they feeling before they come to you? Even better, how do you want them do feel when they finally land on your page?
Or better put, who are the people offering something similar? I don’t like the word “competitors” because if you do the whole branding thing right, you’re not really competing with anyone. We both know that you are amazing and you bring your own thing to your industry, we just need to let your audience know about it.
Remember how I said you’re amazing? That’s because I know we all bring something special to the table. What is “the thing” that makes you different or unique? What would make your people choose you over someone else? Why are YOU the best fit for YOUR dream clients?
Try to keep it simple with short, one-word descriptions. This will help you be intentional with the words you choose. For example, the picture below is from one of my client’s brand, Simply Lead & Lace. The descriptive words for this brand are “Natural, Rustic, Casual, and Hand-Made.”
What do you want people to say about your brand? I’d be willing to bet at some point you’ve heard someone say “Amazon has the best customer service” What is it that you want people to say about your business?
When you’re doing business, what do you find the most important? It may also help to think of what you are most proud of when it comes to your work.
What is your branding lacking that caused you to want to re-brand in the first place? Is there anything that is working for you? If you don’t have any branding yet, try analyzing anything you have put together like your social media or your website.
This question is not to decide what graphic should be on your logo or what colors you should choose. We’re not there yet. Think of this step as more of a mind mapping exercise to help paint a picture of the personality of your brand. In fact, I highly recommend creating a mind map. They make a great, uncensored tool to help you get your thoughts out.
If your audience gets nothing else, what do you hope they understand about you? What do you want them thinking about your brand on the drive home?
Answering these questions before you start designing will help you lay a solid foundation for your brand identity. This way you can develop an intentional strategy for what you want your visuals to communicate, and the effect you want them to have on your viewer.
Here’s what one of my clients had to say about the brand-discovery questionnaire.
“There were questions I’d been putting off answering for my brand because I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself. But in the end it gave me a lot of clarity!” -Kyrie (Overlock Design Co.)
Not only will strategic design help you look like a pro, it will help you start attracting your dream audience. It doesn’t really get any better than that.
I help bold creatives become ideal client magnets by designing stunning brands and strategic websites.