How I create a brand for a business
Ever wondered how a designer goes about translating what a client wants into a brand that captures the essence of a business?
Graphic designer and Hullo Creative founder Suzi Hull shares her process.
Every designer has their own way of approaching a branding project. There are probably a lot of similarities, but in the end design is as much an art as it is a science, and instinct plays a huge part in it. That’s why you can ask a handful of designers to follow the same brief and you’ll end up with a wide range of different results.
For me it really starts when I meet the client. 90% of the time when I’m talking to them, I’ll be taking in what they’re wearing, how they speak, how they approach their business. I notice things like the notebook they’re writing in and whether they use hand gestures and the things they respond to.
All of those impressions build into a picture and I’ll often start getting ideas. That will start sketching itself out in my head, and usually I’ll jot down the trigger points in my notebook to remind me and sometimes reflect that back to the client to see what their initial reaction is.
Fonts, shapes, colours
When I get back to my computer, I’ll start off by looking at fonts. I honestly believe every person can be represented by a font, whether it’s a serif one, san serif or some sort of brush lettering. Then I can start playing with shapes and colours on the screen.
There’s an incredible amount of gut feel involved. But then we also work with designers who aren’t client facing, who won’t meet with and respond to the client, they’ll work from the brief and they’ll be thinking purely about what looks good. That adds another twist, which is really interesting.
Based on the initial concept, we always produce several different iterations so that the client can reflect on which elements they most connect with. The feedback helps us narrow down options and we might end up combining different elements from different versions.
A brand that gets results
It’s important that a brand connects with the people the business wants to work with. We use a brand questionnaire to help draw out from our clients what they know about their target audience so they can understand what they’ll respond to. That helps us to refine our ideas.
But people buy from people and I honestly believe that if you can authentically represent the person they’re going to be doing business with then it will achieve what it needs to. It’s got to be a combination a who the business is and who they’re trying to connect with.
We recently worked with a corporate level executive coach and consultant on a brochure project. Her clients are results-driven people, they don’t want fuss, they just want to understand what’s going on. So everything in the brochure is bold, confident, clear - there are no extraneous details, no unnecessary embellishments. The colours we created when we did her branding represent the coach as a person, but the way we’ve used them is in response to how her audience will respond.
That’s why design and branding is a combination of science and art. There are rules that we need to understand and take into account. But after that it’s up to each designer to use their gut and their skill to bring all these elements together and add that special something to bring it all to life. When it’s done well, it’s magic.