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As a naturally creative person I often feel inspired by projects and have a desire to just run with my vision. Overtime, however, I have taught myself to slow down and create a structured process to my design and brand development and I have found that it is an essential part of my business.
Having a clear and complete brand-building process will benefit both you and your clients because not only does it create clear timelines, it also gives your creativity direction and clarity. When you take the time to develop a solid client on-boarding and project workflow you will present yourself as a professional – not just an amateur freelancer – and your happy client will be more than thrilled to refer you to those in their circle.
01. Brand Identity Workbook and Samples
After I have taken a project and the client has paid their deposit I have my clients fill out a brand identity workbook that will help them stop and think critically about their business, their target audience, and their goals. This workbook is essential to me as it provides a lot of insight into my client’s thoughts and vision and helps me to really get to know their business.
I also have my client start a private Pinterest board, which they share with me, and add a few samples of logos, color palettes, and collateral items that they admire for their project.
Once I get my client’s questionnaire back I research their competitors and brands they like and dislike. I also review their Pinterest board and write down my thoughts and ideas based on my research and their materials.
03. Mood Board and Color Palette
After I have a chance to review the questionnaire and study my client’s competitors and pin board, I create 2 mood boards with 2 different color palettes. If requested by the client, I will present a 3rd mood board option.
The mood board is to give the client an idea of the look and feel of their potential branding. It includes colors, images, potential fonts, and patterns that may be used on the logo or collateral pieces.
At this point I usually won’t do a revision – if they want to see one quick edit to a mood board that’s fine, but this still very foundational.
Once my client selects a mood board I start to sketch out their logos. I choose my favorite 3 sketches and move on to vectoring.
I use Adobe Illustrator to create a vector design of the 3 logos. I once again upload the work and let the client pick their favorite option. At this point they get 2 free revisions on one logo. I don’t ever give my clients more than 3 options for their logo. Too many choices can overwhelm clients and they may start to feel confused about the direction of their brand identity.
06. Alternate logo, Patterns Fonts, Etc.
Once the main logo is done I create an alternate logo for the client, which I allow 1 free revision on.
07. Patterns, Fonts, and extras
Now I go back to the mood board – I create patterns, icons/sub marks, and layout the colors and fonts. I upload the finalized mood board to Asana and make sure we are good to move forward with their collateral items and website.
08. Collateral pieces.
This depends on the project, but here I create their stationary, business cards, social media covers and templates, or whatever other items the client has chosen. Clients get 2 free revisions on each of these items.
09. Web Design
I usually design on Squarespace because I find it’s the easiest for my clients to maintain on their own. I like to talk to my client about what they like in a website design and if they have any sample websites we look at those for inspiration.
I pick a template and create a mockup of their home page and once they see the homepage mockup and give me approval I start to design their website on Squarespace. I like to start with just the homepage so that if the client changes their mind about the template we can easily change it before too much work has been done.
Hopefully the homepage design goes smoothly, and I can finish the website and let the client sign in to test things out. As always, I provide 2 free rounds of revisions, but this is for the entire site, so I ask my clients to submit all their changes at once, if they have any!
10. Client Strategy Meeting and Training
Once their website is done and their social media accounts are up I meet with my clients to talk about their goals for the website and social media accounts. I provide them with basic website maintenance training, social media use and guidelines, and create a social media and editorial calendar centered around their goals.
11. Brand Guide and Creative Assets
Once we are finished with our strategy and training meetings I put together an extensive brand use guide for the client and send them all the creative files for the project, and the project is done! I answer any additional questions I can for my client and always like to relax after a job well done!
Building a complete brand is challenging work, but I love every part of the process. I especially love bringing my client’s vision to life and I have found that this structured approach to developing a brand identity is essential to running my business. When you build a brand, you are doing so much more than merely designing a creative marketing piece, you are encapsulating your client’s business, mission, and values into a visual expression. Presenting yourself like a seasoned professional and taking a methodical approach to your branding process will help legitimize your design business and create great working experiences for you and your clients.
I'd love to hear from you! What is your design process like or what have you experienced when working with other designers? Be sure to comment below and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the latest from Akari Design Studio.