How brands are designed

Design is about solving problems: The Design Thinking Process

Design Thinking is a most discussed Design process that has revolutionized thinking in general. Classes and meetings have been transformed in the University of Stanford by Bernard Roth. He is an Engineering professor at the University and he applies the “circular line of thinking” in various depths of his work. They were the pioneers.
“Design thinking is an amorphous concept that was given its name by David Kelley, another Stanford professor and cofounder of IDEO, when he was trying to explain that successful designers have a different mindset and approach from most people.”
That is an excerpt from the book “The Achievement Habit” by Bernard Roth. I recommend you to read it, especially if you are not in the Design field. It provides insightful resources to do more and smartly.
I use and talk about Design Thinking [DT] a lot. It feels natural to me to solve challenges in a non-linear way. Life and problem solving aren’t black and white, but with tools like DT help us get comfortable with going back to basics when trying to solve a problem. It’s a like a muscle: once it gets used to the revolving problem-solving process, it becomes second nature.
Design is nothing but a tool to solve problems, whether it’s a product, a service or an experience. A “brand designer” is someone who solves problems within the branding and business systems, that are separated things, but very much connected. It involves many aspects that are not physical: how people react to words, perception, smells, sounds, and pretty much anything related to human senses. It’s a convoluted, complex concept to explain in a few words. Design Thinking consists of the following steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Each step can be revisited at any time of the process.
The Design Thinking method was created in Stanford University in California. This method is a concept that David Kelley (one of the pioneers behind DT) uses to denominate designers that think and solve problems differently. This mindset allows us to solve problems from the root, therefore, believe it or not, it’s unconventional (specially in a world where being a Graphic Designer is a status). Fix the well, not the tap.
The logo creation and all the other problems that I face as a professional go through my Design Thinking mind. If would simplify (a lot) Design Thinking, it would look like this:
  • identifying the problem;
  • research;
  • ideate;
  • prototype;
  • selection;
  • implementation;
  • learning and iteration.
Design Thinking is not a linear process, therefore at any given time (specially at the light of new information) the Designer might find him or herself going back to earlier steps. For example, during the prototyping phase, noticing something doesn’t quite work, which would require more research, new ideas and new prototypes. The end goal is the result.

Lettering and the iPad Pro

The iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil are great Design assets. They are highly portable, highly efficient and the most important: I don’t need as many papers. I use to have piles of papers for just one project, it has made sketching more environment-friendly and even faster when it needs to be. As well as it allows me to mimic any kind of paint, brush and have all millions of colors without having to rebuy all of the traditional tools just to “test” something out.
Lettering on the iPad Pro with Procreate
Don’t get me wrong, I love pen and paper. some inks, brushes, pens, and pencils have unique feeling and look to it. It's about knowing when to go digital and when to go traditional. Normally, I start digitally just to get a general idea (to avoid wasting paper).
It has also sped my prototyping and my efficiency in Designing, writing and reading and even video editing. I am able to have thousands of books, highlight important parts and make notes so I can reference it later on my blog, for example.
Lettering is the essence of my work. It’s a unique approach to a brand’s wordmark. I have a strong background in Arts, therefore lettering is an extension of this passion. It’s not the same as calligraphy, however; lettering is more like drawing words and drawing words for a conceived meaning. You can follow my lettering and my design processes on Instagram more closely.

How should a brand look and feel like?

A brand should communicate to its target customers, not to the CEO's taste. That's a common mistake people make when starting their businesses. "Because I want the color to be X and the logo to look like Y". Well, have you assessed your market to know what your competitors are doing, as well as how people respond to their actions? What are they saying about it? What should YOU do about it?
That's how you find out, by doing something we call validation.
An idea is not a product nor a service until it’s done. Until the work is done, it’s just an idea. Personalizing the experience to your brand is the key to bring brand ambassadors in. How does your brand look, sound and feel like?

Investing in your brand

Branding is not an expenditure. Branding is an asset, a tool that will increase your revenue, your business’ awareness in the market. The best investmnt you can make when opening a business is on branding: both the planning and the designing of it.
A great brand can change how people perceive your products and services. The words, the colors, the images, and even the smells can change how your brand is seen. Therefore, going economic-minded on branding is never a good idea. You need clarity on your brand.
An investment is an action you take that will give you a return (the famous ROI, return of investment). How would you trust a business with a bad brand? You wouldn’t. Not only having a brand designed makes you look more professional, it actually builds equity. You are giving value to people, and as a consequence, you sell.
A brand will increase your sales. People judge products and other people within 90s of first contact. Imagine if yours looked bad. If your website worked funky, how many people closing the tab do you think there’d be? If your product packing looks bad, or the product itself is not functional or appealing to the senses. See where I am going?
You might want to say: “But I am an illustrator! I don’t need a brand!” Or “in the music business, branding is different!” PEEEEEEH! Wrong!
If you are putting ANY KIND OF work out there, you are technically generating a brand without thinking about it–which is a recipe for chaos. A 12-year-old kid who is putting photos publicly on Instagram is creating a brand, without necessarily having a business: she or he is crafting an image, and a perception of her or himself. Even if she is hiding a trait or two because it doesn’t fit her image interests.
Maybe you are not making sales because you aren’t treating your animation, illustration, photography, fitness, or music business as a brand, as a business, or because you don't know how to market yourself. The foundation to understand your business will be to define your brand as early as possible, and let it evolve and grow. Your only job is to nurture it. Let it grow.
Kevin Chown Professional Bass Player
My friend and client Kevin Chown, professional bass player.

The process of designing a brand

Assessing the brand
Branding is about defining the qualities and personality of a business, which will support the creativity and the story on marketing campaigns. This part of the branding is conceptual and it is based on the following aspects:
Crafting the visual identity
The VI consists of the visual definition of the business in order to facilitate an audience. People are more likely to buy from people they know, like and trust. By solidifying a brand through visuals (and through other senses, too) a business can be more easily identified.
What’s included on a Visual identity?
  • Logo design (in different file formats);
  • Typography (fonts);
  • Color palette;
  • Layouts (such as business cards, social media templates, banners, etc);
Steal or copy my work and I come murder you :)
Brazilian, living in Finland since 2012. Passion for branding, lettering, photography, music, bodybuilding, and horses.
Julia Braga - The Branding Girl © 2016-2017
Y-Tunnus: 2791209-3
Kouvola, Finland