TO BE BETTER THAN BEFORE IS OUR GOAL
Hello again and thanks for visiting our site. In my previous article ‘Your Great Wall of Branding’ (Read it here), I explained how developing a ‘brand’ is very similar to building a ‘wall’ and how a strong ‘foundation’ is a must for the longevity of your business.
Creating and developing brand identities has always been a great and rewarding experience for us at VERSION. We always aim to produce the best identities we can by adopting a disciplined process for all our clients. I’ll walk you through the various steps that we use in this process to create a brand identity and showcase a recently created one by explaining each step.
Initial preparation or research regarding the new client is a must. I explore their social media accounts and website (if available) to find out about their history, who are the main decision-makers, products, and services, etc. This initial detective work helps a lot in steering the discussion in different directions to gather more information from our new clients.
01. THE FIRST CLIENT MEETING
I’ve always admired people with ambition, I have a soft spot for new business owners and business startups. I love talking to them about their ‘vision’ and their plans for the future. It is both exciting and inspiring to chat about the ‘spark’ that got them started and what they are striving to create.
With every client meeting, I always set an agenda. Sometimes it is very rigid and structured but most times the first client meeting is very informal over a coffee. In all instances, I go through a list of set questions to extract from the client their expectations about their new brand. You can download the VERSION Branding Briefing form here
There are 2 things that I need to check off my list so I can say the first client meeting was a success. First, I talk about our process briefly so as not to bore the client and second, I cover the project budget. I need to know from the first meeting IF we are a fit and able to work together. One thing is for sure, talking about the process enriches the conversation and puts our design studio, in a better light.
I take lots of notes in the meeting, otherwise essential pieces of information tend to get lost. By the end of the meeting, I let them know what the next steps will be, which usually is an estimate or proposal submission. I usually ask new clients to email me anything they have that will help us create their brand – some clients email pictures, a mood board, lots of copy and some send sketches of what they had in mind.
02. THE PROPOSAL AND COSTINGS
After taking all of the information we have gathered through research, the first client meeting and all that has been supplied to us by the client, it is time to put everything in a proposal. The aim here is to be as clear as possible about what is included and associated costings. This document will serve as a guide and a reference for the scope of the project agreed by both parties.
Our proposal usually covers:
1. A brief introduction about VERSION
2. Our process and range of services
3. Samples of previous work
4. The scope of work and associated costings
5. Deliverables and timeframe
Once we have built up this document, this is sent to the client for feedback or approval. Usually, there will be a back and forth until everything is clear as day and approval is finally given.
The VERSION contract terms states for new clients, we require a 50% deposit as confirmation to proceed with new projects. For existing clients, we only require a 25% deposit.
Having an approved proposal and costings help us keep track of the project. One thing that happens quite frequently on the client side is going beyond the scope of work. The proposal is a great reference to keep the scope of work in check if required. We usually remind new clients to finish what we have started or agreed on and after that discuss additional deliverables separately.
At this proposal approval stage, we make ourselves available to the client all the time in case they have any questions regarding the proposal we have submitted. Our aim is to get everyone on the same page with the scope of work, inclusions, timeframe, and the final budget.
03. THE CREATIVE PROCESS
I will be showcasing a brand identity project that VERSION created for Astec Paints. Established in 1978, they are manufacturers of coatings and paints in South Australia. Astec Paints put a lot of research and development into creating their innovative range of products and distribute these to NSW, VIC & QLD and internationally to Japan.
A. Research + Sketching + Refinement + Presentation
- Mood Boards – To set the visual direction, we use mood boards and collages similar to Pinterest.
- Mind Mapping – This technique allows us to pour out all our ideas into a tangible form. There’s no good or bad, all ideas are put down on paper as soon as they pop into our heads, and we can worry about organising them later. Just like a city map, our main concept is the center of the city, while the main roads stretching out from the center are equal to the key thoughts in your thinking process. You’ll also have smaller, secondary roads, which represent secondary thoughts; and so on. Images or shapes are the landmarks of our city.
- Sketching – The goal here is to turn ideas into visual concepts. The sketching process is usually informed by all the research and items supplied from the client, I tend to immerse myself in all the information and visuals associated with the topic. This happens 24/7 and I tend to carry a sketch pad with me every time I am doing a branding project. While drawing I make quick decisions, some logos have thin lines, some thick, some have a small size, some are big, some are hollow, some filled. Following this is the clean up and presentation stage, where I redraw the selected sketches and refine them. The aim is to make them look consistent in line, thickness and size. I also go through a selection of typefaces to complement the logo (icon). Even after selecting an existing font, I tend to refine the chosen fonts to make it unique to the client. During the process I will select between 3 to 4 possible concepts to explore and refine further. Depending on the strength of the concepts, logo sketches are then scanned and digitised or vectorised using Adobe Illustrator and paired with their corresponding typefaces. I will work primarily in black and white and test the logos in both black on white background, and vice versa. The lack of color forces us to focus on the concept of the logo and nothing else at this stage. The colours are then chosen depending on the strength of the concepts. These concepts are presented to the client as a pdf with notes on how the ideas are formed. The sketching, refining to presentation phase can extend from over several days to about one to two weeks for larger projects.
B. Client Feedback + Revisions + Approval
It is always a tense wait to get the initial client feedback but we know all clients need some time to take it all in. Once the client feedback comes in, we refine the concepts further and aim to get approval from the client. This process is a very fluid and collaborative one between the main decision makers of the business and our studio. Each client revision is looked at and considered during this give and take process. Our main aim is to create a logo that works as a visual representation of our client’s business. Shown above are the sketches, the initial pdf presented to Astec Paints and below is the final approved concept with the requested revisions.
C. Preparing and supply of Logo Guide + All Logo Files to client.
To finish this brand development project, we create a simple Logo Guide (1 or 2 pages) and include a list of all logo file formats we are going to supply to the client in digital format:
Logo Guide pdf:
- Logo variations
- Logo construction
- Color codes
- List of file types and names for every logo variation
Below are examples of the final logo files we supplied to Astec Paints.
That concludes our Brand Development project for Astec Paints, stay tuned for our next newsletter where I’ll explain our Brand Implementation process.
The team at VERSION are experts at developing brands. Let us know if you would like to discuss your next project, please contact us here>