There are many parts of branding from strategy, positioning, culture, to the brand statement. However, the design is obviously the most recognizable aspect of branding. Design and branding are inseparable but businesses often confuse the relationship between the two. The award-winning design team at ArtVersion is no stranger to tackling branding efforts including brand launches and brand refreshes. Working with a global set of clients has taught the collaborative group many lessons on how to best approach branding to turn out the best brands possible.

“Clients will approach us with a project – a new website, white paper or  – and give us initial direction that isn’t in alignment with their existing branding. It’s here that the ‘aha’ moment happens and they realize their branding is stuck and needs to be reworked to align with new standards and their own growth strategies.”

Erin Lentz, ArtVersion director of design

Here are the team’s top branding process takeaways:

Though a client might be anxious to follow a design trend they’ve seen in the market, it’s critical to first understand the client and their needs, building a brand around their specific market expectations. Don’t overthink the kick-off by getting too strategic at the outset. Identify the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ of the client from who they are, who is their customer, what do they sell, what are their goals, etc. Ask questions and most importantly, listen.

Allowing for a flexible, collaborative process can open up the possibility for solutions that wouldn’t have been uncovered through a more rigid approach. This applies not only to the process of working with a client but for the actual implementation of the design. For the brand itself, make room for the audience to be able to interpret the branding in a way that is adaptable for them – this will allow for greater connection to the brand and it’s messaging.

Imagine the brand out in the world, in its own context. How will be physically portrayed? On products, packaging, billboards, in magazines, shelves, etc. Take it off the page and out into the landscape that it will live in. This might require mockups or sketching to make it come to simulated ‘life’. Often, the ArtVersion team uses contextual methods from the very get-go, offering visuals integrated with initial designs, allowing the client to really see how the brand might be applied.

What is special about the product or service? What problems does it address, or better yet – what does it solve. Call these things out, don’t hide them. Differentiators are built in value adds and the core of what the brand should exemplify.

Developed brands provide multilayered opportunities to connect. Image, text and color combine to create a visual hierarchy that, if not presented in the right order, can confuse and misdirect the user. “We like to design using elements that can stand alone, in different applications for the client,” says Lynn Doherty, director of Brand Strategy. “Each element is strong enough to live on its own and lend the brand multiple opportunities for consistent but varied messaging.“

At the end of the day, the design is a key element of branding but needs to be supported by assessment, research and strategy. That said, it’s the visual elements of your brand that people recognize immediately and people often remember your brand by.