As a graphic designer I have created quite a number of logos. I have found that when I am commissioned by a client to design a logo only and then a while later they ask me to design a business card or poster; in my earlier days, I would just design something that looks nice and the client will like without considering how my finished design will impact on the overall image of my client’s company.
But nowadays I first engage with my client on what image they want for their business by asking crucial questions that will help me once I begin to design, in the case where the business has been around for a while and they already have previous design works done by other designers, the process with the client won’t be as vigorous because I will have previous work to guide me on how to handle their company’s brand identity.
What I have found though is that both of these processes have a lot of frustrations, because there is a lot of unnecessary and repetitive dialogue when trying to understand the basics about the company’s image and brand identity.
The best solution is for a company to have personalized brand guidelines drafted out first. Stating rules and guides on how to handle typography, colors, etc.
Brand identities (also known as style guides or brand guidelines) can and most often should include assets like shapes, patterns, different versions of the logo (monochrome versions for example), icons, symbols and other interesting and important things that are unique to the brand and can be adapted in different methods for whatever needs a design may require.
Having this information on hand from the beginning makes any design process much smoother, because immediately the designer knows what direction to take and if the approach calls for “breaking the rules” the rules that are to be broken are known.
It is important to understand that any company or business is a brand, regardless of what field it is serving, so it needs to be treated as such. That is why it would really be good if both clients and designers understood the importance of why companies – even if they are still starting out- need to have a brand identity.
Starting with a brand identity in the early stages of your business is best practice, because if you are to do it later on when the business is grown it will entail a lot more work and the costs will be massive.
Brand identities help in giving a company a coherent image throughout all mediums that it appears in, be it print, web, broadcast or any other medium.
Having a brand identity also helps in the event when a company uses different designers for their design needs, there is no hustle of explaining the basics about the company’s image over and over.
If you would like to see a practical way that a brand identity helped me out, check out this project on Behance that I completed recently.
I believe as designers we should take it upon ourselves to advise and educate clients on why having a proper guideline on how their brand should be handled is essential and beneficial. Not only for the present but their future design needs. Companies with brand identities look more established and their target audience can easily understand and locate them.
One last note: I would like to differentiate a brand identity (also known as a style guide or brand guideline) from a corporate identity, the latter refers to a collection of multiple designs like logo, business card, letterheads and stationery, but the former refers to a document that has information guiding the image of the brand and how it is to be handled when designing. Just because a designer created for you a corporate identity that doesn’t mean that you are covered, because a brand’s design needs don’t end in stationery alone, a brand identity ensures coherency throughout multiple mediums.
Article by: George ( TheGiwi ) Mutambuka – Multi-disciplinary freelance designer and creative based on the African continent.