Know what and who you are
Your brand is your gold, as I have mentioned before. You have to mine and refine that gold to establish yourself, your organization, your company, etc. Before you can truly build and tell the story of your brand, there are some questions that you must answer. Here’s a sample of three inspired by the SHYPSI client questionnaire, used to educate the designer on the potential client and what they need.
What does your company/org do in the market? (And why does it matter?)
In other words, what value are you providing? This is the pitch. If you had to explain your company or organization to someone unaffiliated, how would you succinctly pitch them? Figure out why you exist and the values that will permeate throughout your existence. Establish your standards and purpose.
Who is your target audience?
How does your existence and what you offer speak to their needs? Project an understanding of the audience you are trying to attract. Your target is not the market. You need to define your ideal customer, contributor, supporter. Having a target audience focuses your efforts and informs your promotional decisions. Would you play basketball in the pitch dark? Shooting shots just hoping that, at some point, you hear that oh-so-familiarswish? See the basket. Take aim.
Are there any other organizations (or companies) similar to you? How do you differ?
This speaks to your knowledge of the particular market you want to flourish in. Study the arena you want to win in. If you are merely a duplicate of something that already exists, then you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to gain any momentum. You need to know how you are going to set yourself apart from the rest. You want to solve a problem, fulfill a need, or provide a service in way that people can link to your unique brand. We live in a world of a lot of choices. Why should anyone choose you?
It is more that just the visuals. Clearly defined company and project goals are required to successfully translate the story of your brand to the public. As a designer, I want to know as much as possible before any sketching or designing actually begins. Knowing the goal(s) makes it easier to come up with a brand strategy — visually and otherwise.