A 7-step Visual Branding Process
At the forefront of every brand identity design is visual branding. It can be considered the face of a brand. The first thing that comes to mind when people think about a brand. So a visual branding should be instantly recognizeable and memorable. It should also be simple, yet meaningful; it doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out and contains a lot of thoughts and meaning.
David Airey, an acclaimed graphic designer and design blogger who specializes in brand identity projects has listed almost everything there is to consider in a visual branding process in his bestselling book and blog Logo Design Love. Let’s take a look at 7 of them which are closest to the creation of the logo itself and how they apply in our own visual branding.
Beside an inside scoop of the creation of a logo from a designer’s perspective, we’ll also give you some tips on how to co-create the best result with them.
1. Put thoughts into writing
Mind mapping is a process of word association that helps to consider a lot of different design directions. One starts by writing down a word taken from the design brief, then branch out with other related words. Of course, a preliminary research or discussion is recommended.
When working with a designer or design agency, make sure that you don’t hold back any detail about your brand. Every little piece of information helps in getting to know the brand from your perspective and selecting the right words to be included in the ‘thought cloud’.
The name Kamarupa was decided for our design group at the initial stage, so we used it as the core of our mind mapping process. Some of the first related words were ‘design’, union, also some taken from the name Kamarupa: passion (kama), room (kamar) and form (rupa).
2. Explore a lot of options, and then some more
After a mind map gives way to the most important thoughts associated with the brand, the next step is sketching. Many go straight to computer, but given its limitations in producing spontaneous results good ol’ sketchpads are the way to go.
The goal of a sketching session is to document as many ideas as possible to build upon or rule out, to merge or combine, and not necessarily to create near-perfect drawings of logos. Through an extensive sketching session, one might produce a few brilliant sketches by combining between tens or hundreds of unusable sketches. And for that reason, don’t pressure your designer to show you ALL of their sketches; trust them and their process of assembling the presented options.
One of several directions we went to was using the initial K combined with one, two or more thoughts from the previous session. Some standout words from the ‘thought cloud’ that we ended up using a lot in the sketching session were ‘paths’, ‘intersection’, ‘continuity’ and ’future’.
3. Expect the unexpected
Deeper into the sketching session, the challenge is in translating thoughts into drawings. One thing to remember: sometimes a sketch is not a direct portrayal of the thought, but rather a representation of a certain ‘feel’. When merged or combined with the more ‘straightforward’ sketches, the result can deliver both rational and emotional response, which is good! And who knows what hidden meaning that adds a wow factor to your logo can come out of this process.
Having said that, having multiple meanings in one logo should be something that comes naturally and shouldn’t compromise the simplicity of the logo itself.
A combination of ‘paths’, ‘intersection’ and ‘continuity’ results in a negative space that symbolizes ‘future’.
4. Shape up
After narrowing down to several sketches, it’s time to refine them. Aligning the lines and shapes on a mathematical grid gives a logo and the brand it represents an image of stability and thoughtfulness. This process can be done manually on a checked paper or digitally.
Parallel lines and consistent angles help to give our logo a structural feel that goes with the industry it represents.
5. Color me good
Color is arguably the most important aspect of a logo. It adds to the emotional response that a logo triggers. Airey suggests leaving coloring until near the end because it leaves everyone free to focus on the idea.
When it’s time to color, make sure that it delivers conceptually as well as emotionally, meaning that the color should be in line with the logo’s concept and the reaction that is expected from its audience.
Kamarupa brown is a mixture of the founding companies’ logo colors. The fact that they happen to be primary colors (red, yellow and blue) coincides with our identity as several companies from primary design fields fusing into one group.
6. Put the name to the face
When it comes to creating a logotype, some prefer to stick to a proven classic while some an originally developed one. Either way, proper letter spacing is key to a good logo which should be readable from afar and has a smooth flow from one letter to another. Two ways to check if a logotype has the right spacing is squinting one’s eyes to ensure space consistency and turning it upside down to make sure it looks good from all angles.
The right proportion of logogram, logotype and spaces inbetween is also crucial in creating a cohesive configuration.
7. Consider consistency
When a logo is done, there’s still a whole lot more to do in terms of visual branding. One of them is making sure that it will be applied in a similar manner throughout the many things that it’s going to be on. That’s where a graphic standard manual comes in. It contains a set of guidelines on how to spread out the visual branding consistently across many applications, including additional graphic elements that accompanies it (some call them ‘supergraphic’).
For maximum result, make sure that your visual branding project is followed by the creation of a graphic standard manual.
Our logogram is accompanied by diagonal lines that symbolize a continuous path toward the future. See how both elements are arranged on items with different sizes and proportions.
Here are several case studies from our brand identity portfolio. Click on an image for more information on the project.