Good brand identity design shouldn’t be cheap

A man's hand holds a pencil above paper as he sketches a logo – Good brand identity design shouldn't be cheap

If you’ve read any of our posts or pages about brand, you’ll know that we consider a brand to be a lot more than just a logo. But your logo (or brand mark), typography, colours, and strapline are still very important elements of your brand — they will often be the first aspects of your brand a prospective patron sees, whether that be on the side of a van or in the masthead of your website.

If you want to build a successful business, your brand identity cannot be an afterthought.

Logos are important

Coca Cola, Nike, Apple, Ferrari. If you think of any of the great brands, the first thing to leap to mind is likely to be an aspect of their brand design — Coke’s looping white on red script, Nike’s dynamic swoosh, Apple’s partially munched apple, Ferrari’s prancing horse.

Well, that level of visual recognition is not confined to the big global brands, small businesses can have it too — after all, when Starbucks first applied it’s siren of the sea to a paper cup, it was selling coffee in a market in Seattle.

Even in your local high street, having a brand image recognisable half-way down the road will pay dividends.

Creating a strong brand design isn’t easy

Designing a truly effective brand mark is not always quick and easy. Sure, you can ask your neighbour’s seventeen year-old who is good art if they could knock something together, but creating a strong brand identity requires more than artistic skill.

Good brand identity design is about understanding what a business wants to achieve, what values it wants to communicate, and the company’s target markets. It’s requires taking into consideration cultural and geographic sensibilities, business goals, corporate structure, use of colour and shape to trigger ideas and emotions, and the bringing all those elements together in one design system.

Designing a strong brand identity is complex, but if you get it right, it will stand the test of time and provide the strong foundation on which you can build your business.

As former IBM Chief Executive Thomas Watson Jr. remarked, good design is good business.

What you need to consider when choosing a designer

When you’re considering creating a new brand, or redefining an existing one, there are a few things you should bear in mind.

How will your brand mark and other elements be used? Do you just need something for your website, or will you need stationery and business cards designed? Will you require signage for buildings, or vehicles? Will you want printed materials like brochures and catalogues?

If you just need a simple logo for the masthead of your website, a young graphic design student may be skilled enough to produce what you need, and happy to do something for a very reasonable price if it will make a valuable addition to their portfolio. But if you need to consider a wide range of uses, you’ll need to go to a company with plenty of experience and deep knowledge of print, typography and graphic design.

If you’re looking to create designs that encompasses a range of brands, then you’ll need an agency that is capable of doing the research and exploratory work that will result in a fully thought through brand identity design system — a visual language that includes core brand and sub-brands, typography, colour palettes and usage guidelines.

If your brand design is going to properly reflect your company and its values, the designers will have to really learn about your business, spending time conducting research to fully understand it. And you’ll want that process to be thorough so that your new brand identity will last a long time, because you don’t want to have to go through the whole process again only in a year or two.

Designing a carefully considered and professionally developed brand identity therefore takes time, and time costs money. If an agency or designer is offering to do that for you for a few hundred pounds, then the chances are they either won’t be doing the profound work necessary, or they don’t have the requisite experience. You might be lucky enough to find a talented designer who is looking for projects to demonstrate their skill, and happy to do it for a fraction of what he or she should charge because they want the exposure — we did some projects like that when we started out — but don’t count on it.

If you’re a professional then you’ll want your brand to look professional, and for that you need to get a professional to do it. Skilled and experienced professionals cost a little money — but it will be worth it in the end.

Get in touch

Are you looking for a good brand identity design agency to work with? Why not drop us a line or give us a call? We’ll be happy to talk through your requirements and prepare a quote.

About the Author

Nick Irons

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Nick Irons is Co-founder and Creative Director of Tribus Creative Ltd., a brand communications company for small businesses. He spent almost fifteen years in the entertainment industry as a writer, producer, and performer, before moving into branding and design consultancy. He is a fervent believer in the power of storytelling to unlock the value in brands both big and small.

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