At Strategia Design, we work with a lot of clients who are launching their first product. This is an incredibly exciting process, especially for a designer, because we have the privilege of helping to define the brand and bring it to life.
Whether you simply need a logo or a complete package design, however, there are a few key questions that you should consider before any designer puts pencil to paper.
1. What makes your brand special?
Understanding what makes your product or service special can be very illuminating for both you and a design team. You’d be surprised at how many companies have not focused enough on their point of difference and cannot articulate it. A brand’s unique point of difference, the benefits or traits you might want to emphasize, or what kinds of feelings you want the design to evoke will ultimately determine your brand identity and who you connect with.
This can be a tricky question, but it’s well worth the effort. Consider the answer carefully. Defining your unique value can help guide all of your branding and marketing efforts, and even your business development decisions, for years to come.
2. Who is your target audience?
Many entrepreneurs feel compelled to say: “My product will be useful to anyone!” But let’s face it, that just isn’t true. Identifying your target audience, as well as their likes and dislikes, is crucial to connecting with them through design and marketing.
For example, the look and feel of a product for kids will be very different than one intended for adults. Some designs or color schemes may make a consumer think of it as a woman’s product or as a man’s product. If it’s a product for high-income families, we may want to aim for a more premium look. Even knowing your customer’s hobbies or interests can help inspire a more custom look for your brand.
3. What are your style preferences?
Brands must connect with your consumers but they also have to feel right for you, the owners of the brand. If your brand is already established, you may have a style guide, color palette, and fonts that we can use in our designs. If not, it can be very useful for us to have some sense of what you like and what you don’t like from a visual perspective.
Often an audit is helpful in helping you define what you like or don’t like. What do your competitors look like? What other brands or products do you feel drawn toward? What websites do you think are striking? Using Pinterest can be an easy way to collect images that designers can draw inspiration from.
From there, we can understand how you see your brand and marry that with how your target customer sees the brand and create the right look and feel.
4. What is the scope of what you need accomplished?
Start-up budgets are small, and we understand that. Perhaps all you need right now is a logo, and that’s OK. It is still helpful for us to know specifically what you need done now, what you might need done next, and your long-term goals.
You want to be able to grow into your brand and not have to retro fit as you grow.
We also ask a lot of questions. If we know that your new logo needs to work well on a 1-color print package, or if it needs to fit within a horizontal website header, we can design logo options with that in mind. Our team has experience in all aspects of branding, design, and marketing, and we’re happy to discuss big picture challenges with you.
5. What are the limits that a design team needs to keep in mind?
To stand out, you have to know who you are standing out from. Perhaps your competitors all use the color blue and you want to stand out, so we’ll eliminate blue from our designs. Perhaps you’ve had past challenges with coming across as too feminine, so we need to stick to a gender-neutral style. Perhaps we need to incorporate certain elements from legacy designs in the updated work.
Limitations or parameters can go beyond the visual and be very much a part of the brand mission, point of difference, and the benefit you offer. Whatever your limitations are, it’s important for us to know about them from Day 1. This helps to reduce revisions, so we can create a design you love faster.
6. Who are the decision-makers for your brand?
Even if you’re the CEO, there may be other people that you want to include on final design decisions. Identifying who those people are at the start of a project can help keep everyone on the same page throughout the whole process. Don’t forget that customers are also decision makers for your brand. What they say about it, tweet about it or how they react to it will shape its meaning over time. Be sure your team is on board, but make sure your customer is included in that research.
Keep the internal list of VIPs to only 1-3 individuals. Limiting this group will lead to less confusion and quicker decisions, making the design process easier for everyone. And remember that survey sites like Survey Monkey are your friend for customer research.
7. What is your timeline?
Everything takes longer than you think. Have you ever made a 4-course meal and served it 2 hours late? Well that can happen in design as well, but we don’t want it to.
Share your timeline early in the project and back into it. Make sure your design firm asks questions like, “Do we need to meet a deadline for a tradeshow or a retailer presentation?” Some activities, like printing or shipping, can add time constraints that will be important for a design team to consider.
Even if you don’t have a hard deadline, we recommend that you decide on an estimated timeline. This will result in a more focused project that will help you achieve your goals.
Don’t know the answers yet? Don’t worry. We can help!
Some of these questions can benefit from an expert’s eye. If you don’t yet know the answers to any of these questions, our team would be happy to schedule an introductory call, a brand consulting session, or conduct a brand audit that will guide you to a clear and actionable plan.
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