Monday, March 21, 2011

The Logo Part of Branding: Why Process is Crucial

A company’s logo is just one part of its brand, but since it conveys the brand visually, relevance and meaning are crucial. I have been guiding clients through logo development for years and when the process is conducted properly, there are three phases:  research, concept development and execution.
Often a client will want to go straight to the concept phase, usually because it is the most easily understood step. Starting there is a really bad idea because research, concept development and execution are like the legs on a three-legged stool. If you remove one of them, the whole thing falls down.
·         If you have great research and great concepts, but the execution is poor, no one will get your great idea or the thought behind it.
·         Similarly, all the thorough research and great execution in the world won’t make up for inferior concepts – it will just make their badness more obvious.
·         And if you have great execution and fantastic concepts, but the research was shallow, sloppy or not done at all, you will miss your mark completely.
During the first phase, the client and the designer conduct research to define the client’s market, competition, client goals and other client-specific issues, to provide a sound conceptual and practical basis for the design direction. This necessarily leads everyone through a review of the organization’s brand positioning and promises. This phase is absolutely key for establishing benchmarks to identify relevant concepts. The end result of phase one is the creative brief, a document that defines the way forward to create the logo.
The second phase is concept development. Using the results of the research phase, a range of concepts are developed in thumbnail form and jointly reviewed by the designer and the client for meaning, impact, creativity and the factors specific to the client’s goals.
The third stage is execution. Choosing from the concepts of phase two, one or more are chosen for further development into a finished state of design. These “comps” are evaluated using the benchmarks developed in the early phase, and a final design is chosen. By this point in the process, all those involved are deeply familiar with the company’s brand, what it stands for, how it needs to be positioned in the mind of its market, and what its messages are.
When a proper process is used, a company’s logo will be a thoughtful and effective symbol of its brand. There really are no shortcuts.

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