Feeling a little out of your depth?

What’s a brand? (A.K.A. I just need a logo?)

Not everyone’s commissioned design before — where to start, it’s all very expensive, why do you need this?

About design

Good design is a mash up of form and function — it has to look good, work well and be suitable for your needs and your audience’s needs.

It’s not art

Art is delightful — it can be inspiring and playful, it can evoke moods and thoughts. So can design, so why isn’t it art?

Design has to deliberately produce a certain result — it has to follow a certain set of rules and know when to break those rules. And while every creative practitioner will bring a little of themselves to a project, it’s all about the end result, not the creator.

Branding vs logo

The logo is important, and worth investing in — it has to last many years — so it takes time, research and skill to deliver something which will endure.

Note: Before you think about budgeting for a logo or visual identity think about how long it has to last. Five or ten years maybe? Given the value to your organisation the price will feel much more appropriate and less daunting.

That said — the logo can only do so much by itself. Clients often want the logo to do ten different things and that’s going to result in an eye-wateringly complicated or just plain messy bit of design.

That’s where branding starts to come in — the wider world the logo lives within. This includes the colour palette, the typography, the choice of photography or illustration and the tone of voice in the way you describe yourself. These are the look and feel of the branding. All these things together become more than the sum of their parts.

Your brand at its most superficial level, is about the feel of your organisation — how you, and those who interact with your organisation perceive you.

A brand is…

There’s books devoted to this, and plenty of articles arguing over it — so there is no fixed definition!

But we’ll have a go! Squid’s big picture take on brand is that it is the feeling or sense of an organisation.

That feeling/sense comes from multiple sources:

How they look — logo, website, print
How they sound — tone of voice and language they use
How they behave — how they act in the world

The last part is of course tricky, but hugely fundamental — this covers the actual day to day running of the organisation, is it kind? Is it ethical? Is it quick to help or slow to respond? Are they reliable? Honest? Cheeky?

If your brand’s look and feel does not marry up to people’s lived experience of the brand it is jarring and unpleasant — it can feel dishonest.

That’s why it takes a good bit of research and a lot of talking to understand an organisation, so everything works harmoniously.

Sounds expensive

If you’ve never commissioned design before definitely brace yourself or do a bit of asking around! Design isn’t cheap because design is tailored to each individual project and client.

If you were to get a tailored outfit you’d expect to pay more for it than something off the high street. Custom or bespoke things take skill, care and time.

I’m not sure I can afford this

Be honest about what you can afford — some great design has been done on a tight budget but if you’ve got a healthy budget be honest about that too — it’ll open up your options. In the rare situation where it’s gobsmackingly more than is needed to deliver what is required, an honest studio will say that. (Hi!)

Do I need professional design?

If you don’t know, ask! But design is a huge part of how people perceive an organisation, whether they’re conscious of it or not. It can change how you’re thought of, it can reinvigorate an organisation both internally and externally.