Manage The Brand You Create
More and more designers are finding they need to branch out in their roles. Whether you’re freelance or you’re part of an agency or internal team, you need to do more in your job. As designs, graphics and imagery become much more important to businesses and their brands, it’s down to the designer to manage their work more carefully. After all, you’re taking care of a company’s brand, and that brand needs protection.
Color choice is usually categorized or clarified in the media kit. As companies use the internet more and more, it is essential you draw up your brand ‘rulebook’ as clearly as possible. Do you provide copies of your logos and brand imagery for others to use on their website? Do you have a printer’s pack detailing the Pantone number and other color details? This information should be available in lots of different formats, including HTML. This is to ensure that your design can be reproduced accurately.
The font is very important. In fact, you might have created a font specifically for your brand. It might be used in your company name, and it might be used in your tagline. Don’t forget to make it clear which versions or variants of your brand or logo are permitted. When there is text, how must it be used? Are there variations of the wording? When can just the logo be used on its own? Where can users of your logo download the font pack from? Keep your design simple and concise to help avoid any confusion.
When it comes to using your designs, you should make a decision about permissions. If your brand is a product, chances are that online reviewers will need a copy of your logo or brand designs to supplement their blog posts. This might be sent to carefully selected reviewers. What about the Press? If you’re sending out press releases, be sure to provide the permitted logo and branding files for print and online. You may also need a stash of images for your product lines that could form part of any media or press pack.
Do you know how far your designs are reaching? You can track your brand online using websites like www.Chatmeter.com. This could give you an idea how many people see your branding and logos. You might also find out geographically where many of your customers might be. Think about where your customers found your designs. Was it on your website or on a reviewer’s website? Does it appear in the search engine results or online advertisements? Does your FaceBook page and your Twitter handle do your designs justice?
Now you know how far your design has to go, you can decide how best to refine it. Regularly check the website, and try to view it on different browsers and devices. This will give you a good idea which parts of your design are consistently effective and which might need tweaking. If you designed your website, consider how user-friendly it is. When your logo is prominent on the screen, their experience is going to be directly associated with it. What about all those online banner ads? Can you check they’re not annoying potential customers, and causing brand damage?
You don’t have to be a qualified or experienced brand manager to be taking care of your brand. You can run focus groups or create polls and surveys to identify brand strength and sentiment. Check out websites like http://managementhelp.org/businessresearch/focus-groups.htm for details on best practice here. There are many companies and consultants that specialize in this service, but it can be done in house too. The best time for this is when you want to update your brand designs. Of course, negative PR might prompt a new brief too.
It’s always a good idea to refresh the designs you have created every few years. A new design can change customer’s perception of your brand. It can reach new demographics, and it can help repair negative brand concepts. You might need to redevelop your design if your product line is moving into new markets. Even expanding into new territories might call for a few tweaks to ensure the logo is acceptable to local cultures.
Consumers and businesses often have different perceptions when it comes to your brand. Can your design effectively reach and attract professional clients as well as your core consumers? Do you even want it to? Perhaps a different design altogether or a different brand might be best here. As a designer, you might be called upon to discuss the impact and potential of current and new designs by the company owner. Can you effectively present your ideas?
Present Your Findings
Once you’ve done your research for your brand designs, you might need to present them to stakeholders. This can be pretty nerve-wracking. Try to clarify what the problems are that you’ve found as succinctly as possible. Don’t leave it there though! You also need to bring in the potential solutions. One of these solutions might be a new design. These should be presented formally as with any other artwork. Art boards and backing are ideas, even if they’re for a digital image.
Talk about how you will manage these new designs. How will you protect the brand, and is there a launch plan? Can you measure the effectiveness and the impact of moving to these new designs? How will you report back on these findings? Managing a brand goes quite far beyond the initial sketches. You’ll need a plan in place to implement the artwork and ensure it remains protected in its approved form.
From humble pencil sketches to a brand that is globally recognized – your input shouldn’t be downplayed. Your creation will initiate thoughts and opinions every time a customer sees it. And those customers could be seeing it everywhere online, in print, and on TV. Most importantly, they’ll see it on your company’s products. It’s down to you to protect the integrity of the design by managing the brand carefully too. Do you know what impact your designs have had?