branding + design + development - part i


a brand board from the archives

It has become clear that a solid foundation for your brand is essential. However I'm often asked questions from business owners and creatives like: "can't I just have a logo" or "what's the difference between ____ and ____?". So, in the hopes of shedding some light on what it means when I say "your brand is important" I have broken down the idea of branding and the process behind it.

Note: this is the first part in a three part series on branding, design and development. My hope is that I can help creatives have a basic understanding of the concept of branding, the details of design and the specifics of development.
Brand + Identity
A brand consists of a number of elements that work together to form the identity of your brand. This includes, but is not limited to: typography, colour, logo and graphics. But, it can also relate to what you can see (Tiffany's iconic blue is trademarked), here (the roaring of MGM lion has been trademarked), taste (Coke has trademarked, it's a top secret recipe), touch (Louis Vouitton has trademarked the feel of their bags) or smell (Chanel's no'5 is trademarked). Your brand is the identity and the identity is the brand. Seth Godin an entrepreneur said "A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for consumers decision to choose on product of services over another." Personally I use the word identity to describe the visual appearance of the brand. However, I have seen the terms branding and identity used interchangeably, so don't be confused if you see both.

The process of branding varies from client to client as no two clients are the same. I have a questionnaire that I send to all my brand development clients so that we can dig into what their brand is about and their story. From there I gather research and information which feeds into my brand boards which then feeds into design concepts. Once design and identity concepts are finalised we either move onto collateral, or we finalise all the details and I put all the files together to be sent to the client. Each designer uses a different process, so make sure to ask your designer about their process.
A logo is generally defined as any symbol or design that identifies a brand. There are three main types of logos:

  • Mark - most often a singular symbol or icon like the Apple logo
  • Logotype / Type Lockup- consists only of type. This can vary from the brand name in a simple font like helvetica or a detailed hand lettered logo. Google's logo is a popular example of a logotype.
  • Illustrative logo- this is simply an illustration that represents the brand, many sports teams use an illustrative logo.

Many logos are often a combination of all three. For example, some brands like Dribbble use a mark in conjunction with a logotype. Their primary logo is a logotype of the word 'dribbble', but they also use a basketball as their 'mark' throughout their website.

One of the best ways to see the way brands use a combination of the above types of logos is to head over to the responsive logos site and watch the logos as you resize the window. Joe Harrison, a UK based designer created the project to demonstrate how logos can be resized to work for responsive web sites. However, it is also a great demonstration of the different types of logos.

Collateral refers to the items that serve to support your brand. This can include but is certainly not limited to a website, blog, business cards, or client magazines. The idea of collateral is that it backs up and enhances your brand. When talking with a designer you should mention early on what types of collateral you will require, as this can influence the logo development and design.

If you have any more questions about branding and identity, my process or if you would like to work with me, feel free to email me here.

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