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If you think pitching for a brand identity project, or any other design opportunity for that matter, is stressful, agonising and a bit of a lottery, spare a thought for the client. Faced with the strategic thinking and creativity of agencies, all on their best behaviour and increasingly difficult to prise apart, what should the client be looking for?

Thanks to Alina Wheeler there’s a handy 12 point checklist to help the client to separate the ‘men from the boys’ and the ‘women from the girls’. We would suggest adopting a simple marks out of ten approach to each of the twelve points on Alina’s list. Whether we would score a highly creditable 8 out of 10 may be open to question.

But should anyone be moderately interested may we suggest the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

1. Strategic imagination: An ability to understand and align business goals with creative strategy and expression is critical.

2. Process focus: A disciplined process is used to foster collaboration, build trust, and ensure responsible decision-making and results.

3. Design excellence: Reducing a complex, meaningful idea to its visual essence requires skill, patience, and unending discipline, whether the endpoint is a symbol, a look and feel, or an integrated brand identity system.

4. Irrefutable logic: Creating a new system or brand architecture requires an ability to communicate a compelling case for change to any decision-maker, from the CEO to the director of marketing to a division head.

5. Alchemy: An ability to synthesize vast amounts of information and reduce it to a big idea. Also, an ability to cut through the clutter and see the “gold” in a marketing audit.

6. Empathy and insight: An ability to be collaborative and understand the perspectives of all stakeholders, to suspend judgment and transcend politics.

7. Flexibility and humour: An ability to keep an eye on the big picture despite constraints and challenges. A sense of humor always helps.

8. Mindfulness and curiosity: An awareness of what is going on in the wider world and insight into best practices and the branding landscape.

9. Tenacity: Boundless energy and the perseverance of a marathon runner are required to develop and refine key messages, new names, taglines, and branding guidelines.

10. Organisation: Phase by phase, email by email, presentation by presentation, file by file, tracking and documentation are key.

11. Focus: First and foremost, the process must stay focused on the customer and their experience.

12. Passion: Passion fuels excellence and inspires brand engagement.

Designing Brand Identity:
An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team


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