How to help your client 'Unearth Their Brand'

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My last post was a reader survey, because I wanted to know what kinds of specific things you wanted to hear from me, so I can serve you better!

Several of you mentioned that you needed help with your client's branding & processes, so today I'm tackling one of those things!

I've got an example, sample questions to ask, and of course,...

+ Don't forget to grab the free client workbook:
'Unearthing Your Brand'

 

 

So as designers, we know how hard it can be to pull information out of our clients, because they usually just don't know what to say or how to explain what they want. Makes things tough for us, right?

It helps a TON if you ask a series of guided questions, though. I know, I know; that probably seems super obvious.

The problem is that we think visually, or a lot of us do. So when we ask a question, we may be picturing the end result in our heads already, or something like it, but the client probably isn't.

Example:
Designer: What font style do you think is appropriate for your branding? (thinking: serif, sans serif, formal script, condensed, extended, handwriting, brush script.........)
Client: You mean, between regular or cursive?

Our clients don't think like we do, and they often don't know what they want until they see it. Or maybe they don't know our terminology so, they can have a hard time following along with what we're saying, or explaining what they are looking for.

Which means, we have to figure it out before they do, essentially, by asking them... Say it with me: guided questions. You got it! ;)

Here's an example from a client I worked with recently:

 
 
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Example

Client: Happy Cake (band)
Project: new logo design

This was such a fun project! To learn more about the project, you can see the Happy Cake project case study here.

In this case, the client had worked with at least one designer before hiring me and wasn't happy with the results from their other designer. So they'd already seen what they didn't want, and had a better idea of what they did want by the time they hired me.

Luckily for me, before I got started, the client gave me a series of actual cake images for color reference, which showed the fun & wacky feel they also wanted in their logo (below).

 
 

Regardless of receiving the (very helpful) photos though, I asked a series of questions, like:

  1. What is Happy Cake?
  2. What kind of music do you play?
  3. What kind of environment do you play in? (casual, formal, etc.)
  4. What kind of feeling do you want listeners to have? (mellow, energetic, etc.)
  5. Where will you need to use the logo? (print, web, etc.)

Once you have answers to pointed questions like those, it's a lot easier to move forward with the project. 

In the end, everyone was SO happy with the results! Here's some of their reviews:

Can't tell you how much we LOVE the logo you created for Happy Cake!!!!! The new logo accurately reflects our business concept. 

The new design will benefit us because it's very unique, and totally specific to my brand. It is original, eye-catching and fun to look at. Of course choosing the direction you want to go in at the offset is always difficult and challenging, but Katelyn was such a great help to me.
 

 

So, how do you know what kinds of questions to ask?

It might seem like they'd vary from client to client, or business to business, but they don't really vary that much.

What you're trying to nail down are things like:

  • Who is the target market (the ideal customer for that business)?
    • brides-to-be
    • moms
    • parents
    • teenagers
    • other business owners
    • homeowners
    • etc., (get really specific here!)
  • What will appeal to that target market?
    • Ex: if you're a wedding planner, your audience will likely be drawn to feminine imagery, pastel colors, and elegant (formal) font choices.
  • What fonts, images, icons, etc., will be appealing to them?
    • choose everything for a good reason, not just because you like it! Remember, you aren't designing for yourself here. ;)
  • What style does the owner like & want to use?
    • this is less important, as the owner may prefer a style that doesn't appeal to his/her audience, but certainly still needs to be discussed.
    • While it's ideal that the owner likes his/her own branding, it's more important for the success of the business that the design is EFFECTIVE.
  • Does that style complement the business he/she is trying to run?
    • Ex: if the client is opening a new barbecue restaurant, but personally likes a style that uses pastel colors, feminine imagery, and elegant font choices, you'll know that customers will be confused between the provided service & the branding, because the two won't complement each other and in fact seem completely unrelated.
  • How does the owner want customers to feel about the brand?
    • excited, mellow, serious, casual, formal, etc.?
  • What does the owner want customers to think about the brand?
    • Ex: if your client has a funeral home, but their desired branding style evokes feelings of fun, energy, and casualness, then something is wrong. People need to feel a certain way about a brand in order to take it seriously, and trust the company enough to buy, which obviously keeps the business afloat.
  • What colors could help customers feel and think those things?
    • Color psychology plays a HUGE role in the success of the design, and most clients (or their customers) don't realize this. So take advantage of color choices whenever you can!
    • Take a look at the chart below for some basic examples:
 
 

Color Psychology Basics

 

Every color has positive AND negative associations with it. Be aware of each general association, and choose colors that will have the most positive impact for the audience, wherever possible.

Whether that association becomes positive or negative when you use it in the branding, completely depends upon how you use it in the design.

 

Whew! That was a lot of information!

If you want to dive in even further, make sure you sign up to grab my FREE workbook, Unearthing Your Brand. It's a fillable workbook written for the client, that aims to help them workout some of those pesky details before hiring the designer.

 

 

Join me next time to get a peek at my client onboarding process, using my favorite freelancer app! 

What struggles do you have with your clients? Comment below!

 

Katelyn Dekle

Studio 1862, P.O. Box 244, Calvary, Ga, 39828

I'm a freelance graphic designer. I've been designing for 10 years, and still love it! My passion is helping small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs become successful by providing professional branding and website design services.

What do you need help with right now? Visit my website for advice from my blog, sign up for my newsletter + access to freebies, or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to stay connected! =) 

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