My Client Process Part 1: Brand Styling
The most valuable part about working through any brand styling project comes from working through my process.
As you may already know, I recently redesigned my website and my packages, and have been focused entirely on honing in on my client process. I’ve made some changes in how I manage things like timelines and deliverables and wanted to share an in-depth look at what happens during a brand styling project here at Function.
When I take on a brand styling client, I’m certainly working on making captivating designs and setting up a consistent visual system for them to use across all of their biz platforms.
But I’m also doing a whole lot more.
A lot of people have this perception that brand design is a logo. I say ‘AHHHHHHHH’ to that! It’s so much more than a logo and that’s why the investment price tag might initially seem like it’s “too much.”
There’s a ton of work and thought that goes into designing an intentional, effective and put-together brand. (click to Tweet that!)
During any brand styling project, I’m working with my client through a complete, strategic process of getting crystal clear on what their business is all about, who they want to be working with/selling their products to, and what they want their life to be like in the midst of all this business-running shenanigans.
Your brand is what will set you apart in your industry and help you connect with the right people. It’s so important to have a well thought-out brand identity and use it consistently across every channel you have to interact with your people. This consistency is what makes you recognizable, relatable and makes you more memorable over time as more and more people scan your business through all sorts of platforms (think websites, social media channels, content...etc.).
I’ve had so many of my clients finish a project with me and tell me how exciting it is to have visuals for their brand to help them feel so much more professional and legitimate, but also how amazing they feel now that they have clarity and direction in their business.
Most clients are surprised at how much they love the process and the homework it takes on their end to work through a brand styling project.
So Danielle, how do you do all of this? Well, let me show you.
Step 1 | The Clarity Call
This 30-60 minute chat usually happens after you reach out to me with a project application. The application form includes a brief overview of what you’re looking for along with a timeline and what stage you’re at in your biz. Actually, why not have a peek at it for yourself right here.
During this clarity call (which usually happens over Skype or the phone), we get to know one another a little better, I get to hear more about your business and I’ll share my process, timelines and packages in more detail.
Step 2 | The Onboarding Process
If we’re a good match and you’re ready to dive into the project, then I start with onboarding.
Here’s what that process looks like:
Design agreement + proposal:
These outline the terms and scope of our project, timelines, each person’s responsibilities during the project, payment schedule, deliverables and more. This has an expiry date attached to it to make sure we stick to our timelines.
50% deposit invoice:
I send this over to be paid within the week before we get started on the nitty gritty.
Brand Foundations Workbook:
This is a bit of client homework for you to complete within the week following.
This workbook is what gives me a lot of that clarity I was mentioning above. You’ll fill in things pertaining to your ideal work week, who you want to work with/sell to, what you want people to be saying about your brand when you’re not in the room and more.
The workbook has been a huge hit with my past clients. It ends up being an important tool in helping them work through some of the foundational tasks in setting up a brand and business vision!
Setup project tasks in Asana:
During this part, I’ll go in and map out the entire project in my favourite planning platform - Asana. I write out everything that needs to be done along with deadlines so that we stay on track.
Here's an example of what that looks like:
Setup client email folder in Gmail:
Each client has their own folder in my Gmail Inbox. This helps me keep tasks and communications organized!
Setup Dropbox folders:
I use Dropbox to organize all of my client’s files. As we onboard, I’ll use a template I have of folders to setup a new client. These folders include things like: admin, concept work, moodboard, logos, stock photos...etc. Everything is really neatly organized so that when I send off the downloadable link at the end of the project, you don’t have any issue finding what you need.
Step 3 | Research + Moodboard Design
Next up, I take all of my notes from our clarity call and your brand foundations workbook and I begin to do my research and create a brand strategy guide.
This step is crazy important in my process because it’s what backs up my strategy of the entire brand style. It’s what makes my designs intentional and thoughtful, rather than just making things look pretty for the heck of it.
I’ll take some time to research your competitors, think in depth about your ideal clients/customers and I might even ask around to people I think are in your target market to collect info about what’s important to them or what they think about particular vibes/brand moods.
From there, I begin to create a stock photo library using royalty-free photo websites like Unsplash or Pexels. I use these free stock photos most of the time so that I’m able to share these moodboards on social media without worrying about credit or licensing, and so that you can do the same.
The moodboard is what I use to captivate an overall vibe or mood. It’s not necessarily to collect imagery for that business to use on their website or communications, but rather to tell a story about the feelings and tones the brand will rely on.
Here's an example on one that's capturing my client's modern, elegant, minimal brand mood.
Though it’s not necessary, sometimes clients will have a Pinterest vision board setup where they’ve pinned a bunch of photos, logos, fonts, colours or websites that resonate with them. If that’s the case, I tell them they can send over the link and I’ll take a peek.
I use these vision boards as a tool to see what’s resonating with you. But I need to be careful in making sure this is also something that would resonate with your ideal client/customer. Clients hire me to bring their brand to life and understand their business/market. It’s important to note that while I do want you to love your brand, I also want it to WORK for you. So generally, these are taken into consideration, but not as much as one might think. I’ll share more on that another time!
Step 4 | Concept Work
This is where things get exciting and start to really come to life.
After the mood of the brand is determined, I start working on concepts. I always begin off the computer. It’s important for me to use sketching, painting and hand-lettering techniques to generate some uniqueness and bring some new creativity to the project.
Once my sketchbook is full, I’ll take some concepts to the computer and digitize them. I’ll work on streamlining and sorting through the batch to find the one logo concept I think works the very best in representing your business and brand.
**Site note: I want to give a huge shout out and send some love to a designer I look up to in a big way, Jamie at Spruce Rd. She's been the driver of the one-concept process and it's made SUCH a difference in how I work and how my clients experience my process. A big win for everyone!
I’ll take the logo concept and begin to build out the rest of the visual concepts like the colour palette and typography.
Showing the brand to you in context is crucial for my process. I work on creating mockups of the brand concept so that you can see it in action, the way your audience would. Mockups might include business cards, packaging, stationery, web banners, blog graphics...etc.
Here is an example of seeing a brand in context:
Seeing the elements working together makes the brand cohesive and gives a more accurate representation of how things will work IRL (in real life for those of you not up to speed with the acronyms these days - don’t worry I just learned this one not very long ago myself).
If I just handed off a black version of the logo on a white background, it’s pretty tough to visualize how that will help your business. So, presentation here is key.
Step 5 | Concept Perfecting
A brand styling project usually involves 2 revision rounds for the brand concept, which gives us 2 opportunities to adjust or tweak things like colour palette, fonts, layouts of the logos...etc. for perfection.
This is important because I want to make sure you love the brand. But I’ll also probably remind you here to be thinking about the concept from your ideal client/customer’s point of view. We might even take this time to show it to some people we think are in your target audience.
Step 6 | Finalizing the Files
I go through all of the logos and save out every file type you’ll need for printing, editing, websites, social media profiles...etc. I'll also organize all of the files here to include fonts to download and colour palettes.
Usually a brand project includes a primary logo, a submark, secondary logos and elements/icons. All of those bits and pieces get saved individually for you, so that it’s easy to apply them to all of your communications.
And remember, I keep everything neat and tidy in a Dropbox folder for you that’s labelled for use!
Step 7 | Marketing Pieces
Most brand styling packages include marketing pieces. These are collateral items you can use in your business with your new brand style applied.
When we work through the initial brand foundations, I’ll get a better understanding about your own process and needs. From there I will suggest the pieces I think we should create to help along in your brand experience.
For example, if you’re an online service provider or a coach, I might suggest we create a newsletter template for you to reach out to your community, along with a social media graphic template for sharing news, blog posts or promos.
Another example: if you sell a physical product, I might suggest we create a thank you postcard to include in your packages, along with a stamp design you can use to stamp your shipping boxes.
You get the idea!
Step 8 | Brand Style Guide
Remember all those extra clarity points I talked about above? (PS - props to you for sticking around until this point!) Those clarity pieces comes into play here in a BIG way.
This style guide is what wraps up your brand in a tidy, clear and beautiful package. I put together a document that outlines what your brand is all about, how to use the elements and visuals and keep everything consistent.
A typical style guide outlines the following:
Brand Tones (the lens through which you’ll write and create things for your business)
Primary logo + usage
Secondary logos + usage
Submark + usage
Patterns + brand elements
Application (how to use everything effectively)
Bonus for working with me: I now print these guides off through an amazing company, Blurb (aff link), and send them your way when we’re done! You get a beautifully printed book all about your brand. Hard work pays off!
Step 9 | Wrap-up Meeting
We’ll finish things off with the final 50% invoice along with a quick call to go over the brand style guide and marketing assets. I like to connect one last time before I send things off so that you can ask any questions you might have about how to use your new brand consistently, and I can show you the file setup.
I also send over access to the Designing Your Own Graphics online workshop, which I give all my clients. A perfect 2 hour workshop to get you started on using your brand style guide to create your own graphics for your blog, social media platforms, launches, promos...etc.
Step 10 | Ongoing Client Support
When it comes to those one-off projects like workbooks for an online course, new business cards, slides for a webinar...etc. I offer ongoing brand support for my clients only.
I don’t generally take on any projects like this for just anyone who reaches out, only because of my in-depth branding process. I really believe in a strong, cohesive brand foundation FIRST. So for my clients who have worked with me through this process, it’s much easier for me to support these requests.
That covers it! Phew. Long post.
If you’re thinking about a brand styling package, hopefully this gives you a clear overview of what’s involved.
This is so much more than designing a logo for your biz. It’s a 6 week collaborative process to make sure that things are done right from the start.
This process will help you get the clarity you need to stand out in your industry, reach the right people on a deeper level and up your position from beginner to expert.
Ready to work together?