I’m the creative director for a design studio in Colorado, which means you probably think I spend my days hanging in a cool office and surfing coolhunting websites like Pinterest, Brand New, and The Dieline, in between epic hikes and Don Draper-inspired cocktails. And you’d be right…mostly.
I’m also responsible for leading our agency’s creative work, mentoring designers, and guiding the creative direction for our clients’ brands. So, how does that work happen? Well, I’m happy to explain.
Whether you’re a designer wanting to learn more about the creative process, a marketing manager shopping for a new design partner, or just a branding nerd reading every marketing and design link that popped up on Google, this article will give you deeper insight into our creative process at my company, Anthem Branding. Every freelance designer, small shop, and big agency has their own unique process and methodology that guides how they approach a project.
Here’s how we do it:
Discovery and Research - Find out what your brand and product is all about
Delivering great results on every project involves understanding brands holistically – beyond just look and feel – their history, business goals, customers, and messaging. So, we usually start our projects with Discovery and Research. This is a time for us to learn about your company, the benefits you provide, and your vision for the future.
Don’t worry: This step doesn’t take very long, but it’s vital for understanding our clients, what they need, and how we should create design that are best for them. Big questions we’ll answer: Who is your target audience? Who’s your competition? What makes your company unique? What is the most important message your brand must communicate?
The last step in this process is called Strategy, where we take everything we’ve learned and turn it into a strategy document that outlines what your brand stands for and how it will be positioned in the marketplace. Here, we sum up all of the great information we gathered, and set a path for your brand. The strategy may be as simple as noting the demographic and call-to-action. Or, it could contain deep insights into your brand heritage, mission, and future plans.
Okay, now we’re ready for the fun stuff. We take all of our strategic work and turn that into a unique creative direction that we develop just for you and your brand. At Anthem, the stuff we create fits into three main categories: Merchandise, packaging, or logos (or maybe you need all three).Merchandise - Curate apparel and products that resonate with your core audience
At Anthem Branding, the secret sauce is our ability to design and deliver collections of custom branded merchandise. Unique, high-end apparel, outerwear, accessories, and retail products are often the unsung heroes of a strong brand. We know that your core audience wants to rep their favorite brand in style, and we have the capabilities to produce lifestyle pieces that will elevate your brand and amplify your messaging. Throughout our process, we’ll identify the brands, products, and styles that fit into your employees’ and customers’ lifestyles, and then collaborate with you to craft designs that they will love.
Packaging - Position your product for a quick sell in the retail space
According to the internet, people have short attention spans. This is most true in the retail space. Many consumers won’t know about your brand, and they may be reluctant to spend more than five seconds figuring out what you’re selling and why they should buy it. We’ve had success translating a brand’s messaging and look into impactful retail packaging. We’ll figure out your product hierarchy, determine a visual theme that will both grab attention and inform potential customers, and pinpoint the perfect design that will achieve your goals.
Identity - Design a logo and plan a complete visual brand system
For logo design, we start with mood boards to determine the right look, colors and graphics we will use. Then, we design graphics ideas. At Anthem, we offer at least two new logo options in full color and show you how they would look and function in the real world. Some other designers only offer black-and-white logo concepts, but I’d recommend against this option, since it rarely gives you the full impression of the art.
We may incorporate other elements along the way, like a name or tagline, stationery system, brand book, and investor presentation. At the end of the process, you’ll have a visual brand system that you’re proud to put on display.
Next steps - Bring the brand to life
Now that you’ve created a design concept for your brand—whether it’s merchandise or a logo—what’s next? If you’re a designer or art director working on the brand, you need to make sure everything you produce is consistent in terms of tone of voice and feel. If you’re a brand manager responsible for the overall direction of the brand, you probably need to set goals for audience engagement and decide what kind of brand collateral will tell your story. If you read all of this and still aren’t sure what to do, take a look at these pizza-ordering high tops, and remember that absolutely anything is possible. Or, feel free to hit us up!