I was recently on a group call and one of the designers chirped that she churns out a new website for her clients every other day. I was blown away. Just floored. That is a LOT of work to get done in two workdays. And that included a logo! I have been doing this for quite a while and I started to wonder am I a dinosaur unable to keep up with kids fresh out of school? Is this where it is all headed? I had a lot of questions. What was she using to get all of this done so quickly? Are there new tools I just don't know about yet? So. Many. Questions.
Upon further investigation and a round of 21 questions, I discovered that pretty much every aspect of our businesses is totally different. Neither one was better or worse, just very different. For starters, our clientele is 100% completely different, as is our process, pricing, even our client experiences. My clients have established businesses that have been around for a few years. They are looking to invest in and level up their branding to something bespoke and completely custom. Meanwhile, her clients were mostly in their mid-20s and just getting started with a small business. Their primary need was the basic nuts and bolts to get up and running; they didn't care about custom icons or a style guide or even if there was a strategy behind it all. And THAT is one of the things I both love and hate about the design business.
You can't always compare apples to apples, so it is important to find the branding (and hopefully strategy) person that will suit your needs and not just go on price. If you requested a quote from both of us you might be very surprised at the price difference. My branding and strategy packages start at 10K and take 2-3 months vs. her packages start at $800 include website and logo, done in 2 days. All that said to illustrate that there are lots of ways to get to the destination… but like I said, I am taking the scenic route because I know the benefits of slowing down.
You Get To Sit With It For A WhilePhoto by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
My process for branding and strategy starts with research and discovery. At this point, I am learning everything I can about my client's goals, vision for their brand, and what their ideal customer looks like. I am looking for interesting details of the founder's journey that can help tell a meaningful story to their customers. Having a longer process allows me to dig a bit deeper in the research phase, and marinate a bit longer with that information. The end result of all that cook time is that when I distill that information down into their brand strategy, it is filled with meaningful information and useful details. This strategy is the foundation for the design work. So clients know that every design decision we make together is rooted in strategy.
A Client-Friendly TimelinePhoto by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
Brand strategy (and most client projects) rely heavily on client feedback and information. If you work with smaller businesses like I tend to do, the person guiding those decisions, and providing feedback, is often also very busy running the business. A longer timeline allows them the time they need to really reflect on their answers and make sure they have time to digest our work together—we don't want to rush something as important as branding. The longer timeline allows for an immersive process that feels more luxe and client focused. Additionally, I think involving the client more allows them to appreciate and really see the value in the process.
Getting DetailedPhoto by Sven Mieke on Unsplash
I look at branding as a significant investment, much more than just a logo. I take a holistic approach to the process. My clients understand that I am not working on multiple client branding simultaneously. I work on one branding project at a time, and my price reflects that one-on-one service. The end result is grounded in strategy and built to be flexible enough to use for years to come. It is a comprehensive brand guide, and the specific pieces of collateral that will make the most impact for their business. And then, I even show clients how to use all of the elements at their disposal. Including how to relaunch the brand with their new look. A few months sounds long, but clients seem to truly appreciate not rushing through the process.
While my "slow" process may not be for everyone, I think it highlights the importance of right-fitting when choosing a branding professional to work with. When in doubt ask about their process. Working with the right designer for you can be the difference between a frustrating situation or an amazing brand identity to grow your business with.
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