Brand Strategy for Designers: What You Need to Know

Unlock the power of impactful brand design with our guide for designers. From pre-design homework to the Rare Beauty example, learn the 'why' behind brand strategy and the importance of asking questions.

April 29, 2024

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Hey there, Dear Brand Designers! Feeling the pressure of creating a killer brand design and wondering, "Where do I even begin?" Today, we're diving into the world of strategy from a designer's perspective. So, grab your favorite cup of coffee and settle in - if the term "brand strategy" makes you feel like you need an MBA, it’s anything but that.

As a designer, you don't need to be a strategist or a marketing guru. Instead, think of it as laying a solid foundation for your design choices. The 'why' behind brand strategy is crucial because it helps you understand the essence of the brand you're working with. It's like peeling an onion—layer by layer, you reveal the core that makes the brand unique.

Understanding Your Client: The Pre-Design Homework

Before you dive into the design process, you've got to know the 'who,' 'how,' 'what,' and 'why' of their brand. Imagine this as your pre-design homework. It's not just about making things pretty; it's about translating your client's values and goals into visual elements.

In case you need a little helping hand to get you off the ground, I’ve got a Brand Strategy Workshop. It's like a crash course in brand strategy essentials. We cover everything from mission and values to target audience. Perfect for brand designers (like you) who want to infuse creativity with a strategic approach. No need to worry about becoming a full-fledged brand strategist; this workshop touches on everything you need to know about a brand before you embark on their design journey.

Understanding your client goes beyond just knowing their products and services. It involves diving deep into their mission, understanding the values they hold dear, and resonating with the audience they aim to capture. This understanding becomes the guiding light for your design journey, allowing you to create visuals that authentically represent the brand's identity.

Making Decisions in Design: The Rare Beauty Example

Now, let's talk about decisions. We're not just talking about picking colors and fonts randomly; every choice has a purpose. Time to put theory into practice! Ever heard of Rare Beauty? Selena Gomez's brainchild is a testament to the power of brand strategy. The 'Who'—they're all about empowering everyone, especially in the beauty space, and being inclusive. The 'What' and 'How'—think of accessible beauty products, diverse color ranges, and empowering language. The 'Why'—Selena's personal journey with lupus fueled her mission to break down beauty industry exclusivity.

Take their peachy blush named "Shade Joy." It's not just a color; it's a feeling. This is the magic of aligning design choices with a brand's core values. As a designer, knowing these details makes all the difference.

Understanding the brand story is not just about a one-time design; it's about creating a visual narrative that evolves with the brand. Rare Beauty's commitment to inclusivity and empowerment isn't just a marketing tagline; it's a design philosophy that permeates every aspect of their visual identity, from product packaging to marketing collateral.

The Main Idea: Answer the 4 Questions

Here's the golden rule of brand strategy. Let's be real—if Rare Beauty's designer missed the memo on accessibility and inclusivity, the design might have missed the mark. Fonts would have become unreadable, or color palettes could unintentionally exclude certain individuals. That's a branding disaster waiting to happen.

Having an in-depth questionnaire in your onboarding process makes all the difference; it's the key to unlocking your client's needs, vision, and targets. Make sure to tailor it to your liking, throw in some warm-up questions (like the 3 songs that describe their brand), and watch the magic happen.

Example Questions that Pack a Punch:

1. The Mood Setter: "If your brand were a movie, what genre would it be, and what soundtrack would be playing in the background?" Unveils: The overall vibe and emotional connection the brand seeks.

2. The Color Code: "If your brand were a color palette, which three colors would dominate the scene?" Unveils: The visual identity and the emotional responses the brand aims to evoke.

3. The Persona Probe:  "If your brand were a person attending a party, how would they introduce themselves?" Unveils: The brand's personality and how it would engage with its audience in a social setting.

So there you have it, don’t look at Brand strategy as a burden; it's about unlocking unique, impactful designs. So, go forth, ask your client those questions, wear your strategy hat, and let your creativity make an impact. If you're ready to craft designs that tell stories, shop our Brand Strategy Questionnaire. If crafting a comprehensive questionnaire seems daunting, our questionnaire template has all of the questions that our studio uses for every single branding project. It has just the right amount of detail to learn about the brand, without having any fluff to waste your clients' time

Happy designing! I hope this was helpful, and if you have any questions or are interested - shoot us an email or head over to our website alongside our branding services, we curate specialist resources (Courses! Workshops! Templates! A podcast!) to help our community stay inspired, curious and hungry for more. Scroll through our creative buffet and help yourself to useful tools that feed the creative parts of your brain in all the right ways.

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