Designers are artists. They possess a sixth sense that enables them to pluck connections and shapes and colours out of thin air.
That’s why handing a designer a blank sheet of paper and a good brief is so exhilarating. It’s the anticipation that you will be delightfully surprised. That they will create something so inspirational that a client will be moved to tears.
Seriously. Moved to tears. We’ve seen it happen more than once in the 28 years we’ve been working on branding projects.
The difference between a pure artist and a graphic designer is that the artist creates art for art’s sake, while a graphic designer’s strength is the ability to interpret a client’s vision and create a solution.
“The ultimate goal is to set your company and your brand apart from the crowd,” says Ryan Holmes, the founder of Hootsuite. We agree.
We also agree with American entrepreneur Lisa Gansky, who says “a brand is a voice”. It really is – and our design team has many years of experience giving a visual voice to companies, projects and causes.
No two branding projects are the same, and that’s based on our work on over 200 local and international branding projects across a range of sectors including retail, defence, government, tourism, hospitality.
Boylen’s MD, Tim Boylen, recalls being drawn into a brand review for Trafalgar House, which owned a wide range of companies. “The company I worked for in London undertook an audit of every single usage of logos and the final list included some items you don’t see every day. One item was a fleet of ships! That’s when I discovered they owned the Cunard shipping line. It was a massive project and the complexity was incredible. For example, another one of its firms built the tunnel between England and France.”
Here are some of the questions we are often asked.
What makes a great logo?
What is the process for a brand review?
Design brief: we like to start with a well-articulated design brief. You may have this already, or you may need to develop it with your designer.
Research: if appropriate, this starts with a review of your existing identity system and its uses, its strengths and weaknesses. We then research what you like and don’t like. To help the process, we usually bring some “outlier” examples to meetings; designs that are complete opposites so that we can get a sense of the direction you prefer.
We will want to talk about the unique aspects and key differentiators of your organisation, its culture, personality, traditions and aspirations. The same is true of your target audiences. What are you trying to convey? What impression do you want them to leave with them? On a more functional level, we will also focus on the ways in which the new corporate identity will be used.
Developing brand concepts: our designers often start the process by sketching and brainstorming in a free form manner to let the full power of creativity come through. Typically, this would include a series of visual symbols and typefaces. Ideas would then be narrowed down to a shortlist to be developed digitally.
Reality: once we have a few strong concepts, we provide a rationale on what each concept represents and why we designed it. We then let you decide what you like about them.
Revisions: in the majority of cases, if we’ve nailed the brief, clients will favour one concept in particular. From there, we refine the chosen design until we reach the point of perfection.
Do we need a style guide? And what’s in it?
A style guide is a quick reference guide to ensure consistent use of the corporate identity. The larger your organisation, the more you need it.
International companies need sophisticated guides because so many people will be using the branding, whether it’s for packaging in Australia, an ad on the side of a bus in Asia or a sales presentation in the USA.
The style guide would ideally have a champion. This is someone who either pre-approves artwork or, if that’s not possible, keeps an eye on what is being produced to ensure consistency is maintained.
A basic style guide will include of:
Can you give a shameless plug for Boylen’s branding expertise?
Sure, if you insist!
In one case, the International College of Hotel Management (ICHM) became the first Swiss Hotel Association school outside Europe authorised to grant the prestigious SHA Diploma in International Hotel Management. The brief was to develop a new corporate identity that drew upon the Swiss heritage and status but also reflected the new directions ICHM was taking, and projected ICHM as an education institution of the highest standard. The logo needed to be culturally appropriate across a broad range of cultures. The project was a lot of fun – and it’s been a great success. Enrolments have continued to grow and the brand has strong recall, both in Australia and overseas markets.
A third example is Katnich Dodd, one of the leading building surveying consultancies in South Australia. The brief was to develop a new company identity for Harmer CLG, which is an offshoot of Katnich Dodd. The new identity had to strongly convey the elements of “trustworthy”, “solid” and “reputable”. After the launch of the new branding, we were pleased to receive the following from the owner, Peter Harmer:
“The new identity is working well and standing the test of time. The conservative design and colour is perfect for the nature of our business, which is traditional and relies on technical ability, reliability and trust. The logo conveys all that. Thank you.”
Shameless plug ends here – but if you’d like like to see if we’re a good fit for your next branding project, please contact us.