David Doyle
David Doyle 22 October 2018

Launching a brand: Our top tips

"Brand is more than what you see. It’s what you hear, read and sense too..."

Creating a brand from scratch is so much more involved than just designing a logo and selecting fonts. Those are undoubtedly essential visual elements, along with a colour palette and a coherent suite of imagery. But it’s the thought, the research, the misses as well as the hits in the conceptual phase that reveal the hidden depths lying beneath that shiny branded exterior. But where to start? Sometimes, there’s a strong vision, a clear direction to aim for, a compelling story that inspires. All too often, though, these have to be teased out, concepts experimented with, tested and rejected. It can be a painfully slow process, vulnerable to delay due to the inherently subjective nature of design. Decision makers, as well as creatives, can get bogged down by options, concepts, variants. The way to avoid this ‘death by indecision’ is to approach brand with logic, insight and creative intuition. Here are our top tips to a successful brand creation:

1. A clear brief

Brands that have been born from a single vision, like that of Winchester Distillery founder, Paul Bowler, usually tend to be rather more enjoyable to bring to life. With The Blend Academy, our client had a clear brief and a strong vision to work with. From this firm foundation we collaborated, stayed focused, and were able to explore options and test ideas thoroughly before reaching consensus.

2. Define tone – in black and white

Brand is more than what you see. It’s what you hear, read and sense too, and with The Blend Academy, a gin-making experience that celebrates taste, smell and craft, we knew we had to develop a strong and memorable brand personality. Our brief was to explore the concepts of learning and education and combine them with a sense of fun, adventure and curiosity. We created brand guidelines that included a content style guide, outlining the personality, tone, language and brand ethos in black and white. This is crucial in forming a clearly defined brand – especially one so multi-sensory as The Blend Academy.

3. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

A word that you’ll hear uttered time and time again by any self-respecting designer or brand manager, consistency really is key in brand. Why? Well, it conveys confidence, integrity and a clarity of thought. Most importantly, although small inconsistencies in language, tone, font size, colour, layout and imagery may go unnoticed for a time, once these dangerous precedents have been set, a brand can descend dangerously towards confusion. Keep everyone on the same page – both internally and externally – by committing to a thorough and detailed Brand Guidelines document.

4. Testing. It’s all in a name?

We’re not always right. Seriously, we’re not! The best brands respond to and respect their audience. So test the name and concepts out on a relevant sample audience. If your audience is confused by it, that’s not the end of the world. You can play off that with elements of surprise or build on a name with a strong tag line. If your test group is offended or just plain bemused by your ‘wacky’ name, then let it go. Listen to feedback and review your shortlist in the cold light of day.

5. Ready? Launch.

Launching a brand isn’t quite as involved (or expensive) as launching a rocket, but it’s just as quick. There’s a significant – and often surprising – amount of creative work, planning and research before everyone is ready to hit the big green button. Timing is everything to ensure all your branded materials are printed with time to spare; your website is refreshed, tested and ready to go live; and your PR and social media teams fully briefed. With so many moving parts, it’s a good idea to take a deep breath, take stock and review everything before you send your brand out into the big wide world. You’ll only get one chance!

The Blend Academy has been a genuinely special brand to work on, and we’re hugely proud to have helped create it. From the first briefing to fitting out the space in the heart of Winchester, we’ve worked collaboratively with our client – which really is the key to a smooth and successful brand project. And the most exciting thing? This is just the start!

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