It all began back in April. An existing client – for whom we have supported at various companies, all within the construction industry – approached us explaining that he was in the process of setting up a new company and, once again, required our support. Initially to establish a new brand identity for the new company – a concrete sealing business – and subsequently, to provide some branded items culminating in the new vehicle livery for a small fleet of vans.
Having created new brand identities for many companies over the years, we fully understand the various strategic and creative processes involved in the journey to the end result. More often than not, the creative work is led by the strategic (eg information gathering, competitor benchmarking, brand values, brand proposition, etc). However, on this occasion, the client came to us with a logo they had drawn and wanted our opinion. We thought it would be interesting to share the step-by-step approach to this particular project.
STEP 1: ESTABLISH THE BRIEF The brand brief is a crucial first step in the whole branding project and without one, it is impossible to understand the scope and direction of the project. Gathering the relevant information enables the agency to get under the skin of the requirements and understand the company’s value and market position, the creative parameters & limitations, the client expectations, etc. In a nutshell: This was to be a new company in an established, no frills sector (construction) The client wanted the new brand logo to be unique and depict what the company did The client had already drawn up a very crude concept for their logo (see below) and wanted our input.
STEP 2: DISCUSSION Of course, we are always happy to simply do as a client requests but, when it comes to branding, its never wise to totally remove the brand strategy from the branding process. As such, wWe had some reservations regarding their idea – the company name itself already provided enough information regarding the company’s service and there was a big argument to suggest the logo didn’t need to do the same. Furthermore, we were concerned that the client’s own concept may not as unique as they believed. Instead it was too simplistic, too uninspiring, and perhaps too limiting for a forward-thinking and dynamic business. So, we arranged a meet with the client to discuss the opportunity and our concerns. Of course, we were happy to simply do as was asked but, totally removing the brand strategy from the branding process is not necessarily a good idea. And so, we discussed both the benefits and limitations of the suggested concept as well as providing them with some alternate branding process directions.
STEP 3: PROPOSAL – CREATIVE INPUT OPTIONS Following the discussion, we put forward a cost proposal for three different levels of support: a) Tidy up: We would simply tidy up the client’s supplied concept with the end result looking similar to that supplied. No brand strategy would be required and this route would require minimum time and cost.
b) Fresh start: Here, we would embark on a branding program based on clear brand strategy (rather than being based on the client’s suggestion). This tends to be the right approach for a new corporate brand and this direction would enable us to establish the core brand values, benchmark against competitors and develop a true branding brief & direction for the brand identity. Inevitably, this approach would take the longest time.
c) Inspiration: This was the compromise option. We would use the supplied concept for inspiration only. The end result would be inspired by the suggestion but may have no obvious visible similarities to it. This required an element of brand strategy, albeit the designs were to be inspired by something already created.
STEP 4: ACCEPTANCE The client saw the benefit of the middle ground solution and confirmed compromise option c). The company was onboarded as a customer and we put into place the relevant design team to work on the new brand.
STEP 5: INSPIRATION Looking at the initial concept, a list of design ‘entities’ was created and shared between the design team. This would help to keep the project on track and within inspiration of the initial concept. For example, it was clear that any new concept may need to portray an element of ‘blockiness’; perhaps including straight lines, boxes, squares, layers, cuts, etc. Moreover, we were to keep it simple, without frills.
STEP 6: INITIAL CONCEPTS The designers worked closely with the project manager to establish the initial brand concepts which were then presented to the client alongside some potential ‘real-world’ asset. We find it is always a good idea to present a brand ‘in situ’ as opposed to just a logo sitting alone on a white background. Not only does this give consideration to how the wider brand style could be implemented but it also always puts the client in a better position to make an informed decision regarding their preferred brand direction.
Four concepts were presented to the client, and each inspired by the client’s initial idea. These depicted: 1. Badge. Two equal sized, different coloured, stacked blocks inset with the company name 2. Signature. An open angled floorplan to depict the company letters 3. Target. A three layered square target 4. Slice. An dynamic cut through a square
Each concept was presented in turn and discussed at length. It is always a good idea to have an open, objective and honest discussion regarding the branding process & rationale behind each concept. Moreover, we always discuss the benefits, limitations and ‘legs’ of each concept – so that the client had a clear & solid understanding of how far each brand concept could take them.
STEP 7: SELECTION & DESIGN DEVELOPMENT The client team were unanimous in their selection and opted for the one we named ‘signature’. This was selected as it was most unique and the one the felt provided the greatest potential. A number of development tweaks were required including subtle but much-needed tweaks to font style, spacing & positioning. As for the brand colours, consideration was given for colours that minimised the difference so as to create a close colour match between web & print – whether printed via pantone or CMYK across both coated and uncoated stocks. Moreover, as we knew the client required their vehicles to be branded, we ensured the selected colours matched with what was available in vinyl.
STEP 8: LIVERYDESIGN As with all creative projects, we worked with the client to gather a brief. We needed to know the vehicle type(s), its base colour and any specific information needed to appear on the vehicle. Of course, we also needed to understand any limitations of the vehicle that would affect where any designs could be applied The vehicle itself was a very dark grey with chevrons already applied to the back doors and side skirts. The client had opted against a full wrap and had also asked for any design to be kept relatively simple so as to complement the simplicity of the new brand logo. With all the information to hand, we could then start applying some initial livery designs concepts.
STEP 9: APPLYING THE LIVERY After a little design development, all artwork was approved and passed to our livery specialist who took control over the printing and subsequent application of the vehicle livery at the client’s place of work. this was a straightforward but time consuming process and, after a few hours, the final product was there for all to see – the client’s first vehicle designed in the new company brand.
>> Play the video below to see the livery taking shape.