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This project describes the importance of research when developing a brand.
For a business owner today, looking for branding, marketing or graphic design specialists can be scary and incredibly confusing. It seems like one can just type in logos and find thirty dollar options. Twenty dollars more for a blog template and youre done, right? You could save so much money and itll probably look pretty good too! Especially as a startup, this can be an enticing option, since finances tend to be very tight. Let me tell you one reason that this should not be your choice: Research.

It sounds so boring, right? How is research going to make my logo look better? Because its not about making your logo or website (or whatever your communication tool may be) look good. Its about expressing your brand to your audience and creating a back and forth communication between the two. A business card is not art. It is also not only informational. It is designed to convey the brand platform as well as the information. It is a true blend of communicating to the left and right brain of the brands customers. Research is a collaborative effort between designer and client to learn about the brand, its competitors and what will make you brand unlike any other in the category.

When we begin working with a client, we start with a Brand Questionnaire, so we can be brought up to speed on the ins and outs of any particular category. For instance, we're working on a startup Raw Food Chef. When we started, the client knew far more about the raw food lifestyle than I did, so I needed to learn about the profession, competitors, who the raw food customer is and their likes and dislikes.

We also ask visual, or right brain questions, to find out what might be appropriate shapes, colors, fonts and so on. Many time its difficult for a client to articulate visuals since they are not in the design world on a day to day basis as I am, so Ill create a what I call a Brand Inspiration Board.

This is a collage of visual images that we feel are appropriate for the brand, based on what research weve done and the input I received from the client. It may be a logo, shape, pattern, color or a letterform. From that point, well meet with the client & well go through the images one by one, placing the images we agree are most like their brand a the center of a circle, while those that differ will be placed away from the center of the circle. How far away a visual is from the center represents how different the image is from the brand. This process ensures that when a client says I want something hip and cool, we are on the same page to know exactly what that means to the client and most importantly, to the brands customer.

In conclusion, its important to find branding specialists who include research in their process. Its a crucial step and worth the investment. Without research, its nearly impossible to establish strong brand relationships and ultimately a successful brand.
Inspirational board for chef Tina Jo identity. Notice the movement, exuberance, white space and simple layouts.
The result of our inspirational board can be seen in the Chef Tina Jo logo and other executions of her identity.
Inspirational board for Mark A. Cella. He was looking to create a tongue-in-cheek, legendary image. We selected masculine images with aggressive, superhero, over-the-top qualities.
Here is the result for Mark A. Cella identity.