Although the art design of the brand is my passion, I know that this stage of my work is the latest step for designing the visual identity of a company or organization.
My opinion is that branding specialists who want to build a seamless visual identity, have to assume not only that their work is to achieve a synthesis, but also that their resources act as a team. In this case, their main job is to make the team to be effective and coordinated.
In other words, I see brand design as to the job carried on by many football coaches, when they claim that teams should be assembled back to front, from the defence towards the front. I think the same happen with brands: You should start working from the defence. Then you have to build a tough and flexible midfield, one that can allow you to project a structured attack, solid, incisive and backed.
Why this complication? Because if you start to design a brand from the logo, then you can score an isolated goal, but being more than likely to loose the match by a landslide.
How can you build this scheme? Forget for a while about logos, colours, typefaces and illustrations and then let start to build the brand from behind.
The first step is to define the objectives to be achieved by our team. In this case, the meaning of winning is to reach a certain positioning into the map of meanings of the viewer. In other words, that means spectators will classify our brand, placing it in the best box for us of their mind.
This start requires a sincere agreement between parties by accepting all realities, expectations and responsibilities; otherwise the following step will never make sense.
With this search written in the skin, the second part of the process is to clearly define the recipient of our goal, to whom our message will be directed. That requires us to take notice about our opponent. For that reason, we will have to cut a portion of all humanity to stay only with a single segment, with a particular piece of the pie. This part will be a particular social group with which we will deal, forgetting for the moment all others. As result, the world has shrunk; the adversary begins to have a face and a form. There is only one rival. Now we can analyze him, see its strengths and weaknesses, needs and previous reactions. Now we must investigate him as deeply as it is possible. We must know and understand how and why he reacts as he does.
Third step, we must create an action strategy that allows us to begin to organize our job, based on gaining tangible things to our opponent. Accordingly, we should create a strategy that achieves the confusion of our adversary, looking us to be those who arrive first at the goal. Thus, we must have many clear things like: what attributes, buying habits, social behaviour, prejudices, ideas, norms, values and beliefs are we eager to change through our actions?
Fourth step, we must begin to interpret our strategy by thinking about the tactical actions. These are the concrete facts that will dispute over the space of our adversary. In this manner, even though one can be hired only to design a brand, for doing so, we must imagine and outline the whole further communication related to our brand, such as raw information, insights, and arguments. But we must go further: we must find the slogans and stories that we can use for affecting the other party.
As part of this work, we must be extremely coldly realistic and think about how we will move forward: therefore, we need to recognize our firepower, our real resources. For example, knowing what means, advertising and media may be used by us if it is appropriate. Also, what system of production, logistics and distribution can we use? From there, we can shape our midfield. That is because if we try to overcome high walls with weak legs and little air, the result can be catastrophic.
As a fifth step, we must manage these resources so to sound like an orchestra. That is a totality where each player takes its own place in the field, where pictures, colours, letters, symbols and levels of abstraction are organized as an ideal whole, to sound good together and to be ready for playing the best game. Hence, we have to work on the team dynamics, on the rhythm and visual hierarchies of the message so as to be as a battering ram. A striker represented by a word, image, colour or any combination thereof. A striker created for doing the best for drilling the opposing defence. This battering ram is the brand. Now we have to use of poetry, of all our art for interpreting our strategy and team tactics.
Conclusion: My position is that brand design requires the prior execution of a process based on: imagine, understand, interpret and media planning. In addition, I believe that is essential to have a real sense of the available resources that we will command and therefore to count with them. Also, we must have in mind about all of the related messages that can be built. After all of that, we can focus our job on the image creation: working on the symbolic features that will make the brand be visible. Consequently, if a clear strategy and defined tactics are materializing in our brand, we have the DNA of the company into the visual identity and we can then play the game beforehand. That’s the kind of brand that wins games.
© Sebastian Guerrini, 2012