WTF is a brand, anyway?
like that show 'how it's made', but the branding edition.
You read in all of your starting-a-business textbooks that 'it's all about branding, baby' which means you need a logo, right? Wrong. Well, partially wrong. A brand is so much more than your logo, and you might even be surprised to hear that your logo makes up a VERY small part of your entire brand. Every little piece of your business that the public experiences is your brand.
Most people mix up the terms branding and logo which gives branding a bad rep. We'll break it down for you.
In old school business days, you could pay your artist niece to sketch you a rabbit for your gardening business, scan it into your computer, call it your logo, and boom you have branding. Two examples:
- Look at the Apple brand; what appears to simply be a logo (the apple), is in fact so much more than that. Everything from the fonts they use, to the amount of white space on their website, to the style of photography, to the employees they hire (why do they ALL LOOK THE SAME?!) to the language they use in their product launches is their brand.
- Tiffany & Co has a brand without even having a logo. Their iconic blue boxes and their elegant typeface make up their brand without ever even having a logo in the old-school definition.
Here's a glimpse into the Trout + Taylor branding process, broken down into 9 not-so-short steps, with the help of one of our recently launched brands, Guru Singh.
STEP ONE: you have a business!
You might be a new business owner and need a brand from scratch; or have a flourishing business already and need a rebrand. Both will start from the same place, our brand tacklebox.
STEP TWO: The Brand tacklebox
We're not gonna give it all away on our first date here, but this is the part of the process that really allows us to get to know you and your vision for the future. We'll spend a few hours together, and walk you through a few 1:1 coaching sessions. Here's what we distilled after our deep dive into Guru Singh's brand:
GURU SINGh's CORE VALUES
GURU SINGH'S TRAITS
Hell yes: Bold, Colourful, Creative, Educated, Inspiring, Optimistic
Hell no: Corporate, Crafty, Generic, Judgemental, Ordinary
Guru singh's MUSE
A 35-44 year old woman currently residing in Los Angeles. She is active in the yoga community. She is a young to mid range professional who has their day-to-day life but seeks something more. She is concerned about the stress of modern life and conflict in the world. She believes that there is a careful balance between embracing the modern lifestyle and enjoying but not being pressured or controlled by it. She will invest in personal growth opportunities. She spends her money on organic food, yoga memberships, etc. She has an affinity for culture, music and pop culture.
STEP three: T+T HYPE SESSION
We have the perfect balance on our team between left brains and right brains, and we make sure that everyone has a stake in every project we work on (#bettertogether). In our project kickoff meeting (we call them hype sessions, cause man we are HYPED on your brand), we'll come up with individual mood boards and then put a master mood board together as a team. Here were a few from the initial Guru Singh meeting; see if you can spot his core values and traits within the mood boards:
......And here's the final mood board we came up with:
STEP FOUR: sketching
Armed with nothing but a pencil and boundless levels of creativity, our team starts coming up with preliminary sketches and concepts. We present our highest level concepts to you very early on, envisioning your brand coming to life (more on the brand presentation later) so we spend hours and hours concepting (in fact; according to our time tracking app, we'll spend anywhere between 40 - 80 hours on this stage) alone.
For Guru Singh, we wanted to weave in the ideas of creativity and movement throughout his brand; so we broke out the watercolours.
Anything created offline, like these watercolour images or sketches from notebooks get scanned in and we'll start to work with colours and graphic elements like these guys:
STEP FIVE: brand presentation
We'll start assembling the brand presentation together. We use our brand presentation as a big ole brain dump. We'll show you our sketches, we'll show you our findings, we'll show you exactly how we envision your brand, and some of the concepts that we just couldn't get our minds off of during the creative process. We love to do this meeting in person or via skype so we can discuss all of our ideas with you right away.
We'll put forth our strongest options; perhaps you'll see different fonts, different colour palettes or different photo treatments.
To help you visualize your brand, we'll always put a section in the brand presentation called 'in the wild' - if you have a pickle company, we might show you our ideas for labels or loyalty cards. If you have a yoga studio, we'll show you your brand concepts on yoga mats or studio signage.
Like a snowflake, each brand presentation is unique but here's a sneak peek of just a few of the pages we presented to Guru Singh:
STEP six: revisions
We'll work together over the course of the next couple of weeks to make sure we have totally nailed your vision. The biggest changes in your brand will come between the brand presentation and the first revision. To capture his masculinity (oh, and his favourite colour, maroon!), we adjusted the colour palette, while bringing in more electricity and vibrancy into the brand. They also had a strong desire to bring in more of Guru Singh's personality so we started working with his actual signature. They sent us this:
And here are some snaps from revision one.
They wanted to see a lil bit bolder still, so we decided to rock a few more signature options (by a few we mean 100)
...And decided this was the fave:
With one little quick fix of the G and I, we were off to the races with an approved signed-off mark:
STEP SEVEN: FILE DELIVERY
This is a pretty logistic-heavy stage, but we'll package everything up for you so you can start using your brand right away. We'll put together ALL of the logos you'll need to use, in every colour, in every format that you'll ever need them in. We'll train you on how to use your brand, the size dimensions you'll need to adhere to and which logo to use in which circumstance. Here are a few pages from our brand logo usage guide.
In addition to your brand fonts, your colour palettes, your logos, your graphics and patterns, we'll also give you everything you need to do a full online overhaul - all your social media profiles have never looked so fresh.
STEP eight: all of the middle parts
We're going to slightly gloss over this stage, but it's where all the magic happens. This is the fun part, where we'll work side-by-side with you as your brand directors, because words can't describe how invested in your business we are at this stage. It's also the stage where we'll start building out your other brand assets (like your website, if ya need one, your business cards, your custom valentine's cards, etc).
With the Guru Singh team, we guided the expert photographers on the upcoming photoshoot, we did a social media overhaul, and created some super funky side projects for them (hello custom guitar picks). We trained their team on how to use their brand.
Literally nothing is off limits when it comes to branding; we have consulted on bathroom tiles for not-yet-built spin studios - and we have designed custom cat sweaters. You did, in fact, read that correctly.
STEP NINE: BEYOND
It's pretty hard to shake team Trout + Taylor off after your brand is launched. We pride ourselves in the fact that we've had; 'have mandatory celebratory beers' legally approved by our lawyer written into our contract. We have absolutely loved every project we've ever worked on, and hope you'll keep us on speed dial. We'd love to support your beautiful brand in any way possible for years to come. We can't wait to create a future with you full of gorgeous brands.
Still have questions?
We're really nice and we LOVE branding, so please reach out!