We often receive emails from graphic design students. Many are looking for design placements or jobs, some are looking for input to their creative studies.
Being a friendly bunch we try to reply to everyone. Getting into the design industry is a pretty daunting prospect and it helps to remember those who gave us a leg up along the way…everyone needs a break to get where they want to be. Also some of the approaches we get are quite interesting and help to give a bit of much needed outside perspective on our day to day studio lives.
Anyway last week we received an email from Mike, currently studying his 3rd year of a Ba(Hons) Graphic Design course at Leeds College of Art. Amongst other things during this final year of his degree course he is working on a case study about building brands from scratch and helping SME’s find their voice.
Mike’s email to Punch asked us to consider the various facets of a brand in the form of a Q&A. The following passage is taken directly from his email:
“I find it interesting that creative agencies and studios are asked to define exactly what a business is going to become, they mould an identity and produce guidelines for it to adhere to throughout it’s life. Building a solid relationship with an emerging brand at the start of the process can provide great repeat custom for the studio, I want to see how studios tackle the complex tasks of brand identity and prevent it from spiralling out of control once they rolled it out to the public. Understanding the complexities of copywriting, strategy, business image and cross-media delivery will inform my progression as a student to professional with a creative mind and a business head”.
We liked Mike’s approach and decided to tackle his questions (only slightly daunted that he seemed to know more about brand building than us!).
So, here goes…these are Mike’s original questions and our answers to him:
When considering the complexity of building a brand, in your opinion, what value do you see in having a copywriting team from the moment of brand creation? Do they add a new angle to a creative process or simply complete the final picture?
A copywriting team can be highly valuable when budget allows. At the very least we try to form a guide to brand language via some leading statements and establish some basic rules to ensure a consistent voice moving forward. Quality copywriting is undervalued in the industry, it is one of those things that a lot of people think they can just sort out themselves.
When a start up or small business approaches you regarding their vision, what questions do you ask of them to help you assess what is exactly needed?
Apart from gaining a thorough understanding of their business model we often ask them to imagine their new company or brand as a person: how would that they describe that person? what would they say? That can help them understand a brand from the multiple perspectives that should remain consistent to build and maintain the brand.
Each brief brings a different set of challenges, however what are the similarities between each project in terms of client requests, end product or requirements for every start up?
The most common concern is time and budget – more people understand ‘brand’ now through their loyal use of consumer products like their iphone etc – however fewer clients understand the level of work that is needed to achieve that seemingly effortless brand image. Great brands seem fluid and free, as consumers we don’t see or think about the rules that bind them together – to us they just work. Because of this there is a common misconception from inexperienced clients about the process of building a brand. To many people it does boil down to whether or not they engage with an initial concept.
Cheers Mike, you made us stop and think about branding for a bit, which can only be a good thing!
You can find out more about Mike during the final year of his degree at http://aiaagd.com,