7th July 2021
How to write the perfect branding brief
Are you looking at having a new brand image created for your business? Whether you’re looking for a simple logo redesign, or a full brand overhaul complete with a set of fully comprehensive brand guidelines, the project you’ll undertake to achieve this will always start in the same way… with a branding brief.
You might be looking at completing the work in-house, or outsourcing it to a design agency, but either way it’s a useful exercise to put a brief together. Particularly if you’re outsourcing your brand design, then it’s key to provide as much detailed information as you can – it will give your designers the best starting point, and will ensure the results are both high quality, and a perfect fit for your company.
So, how do you go about putting together a branding brief? Some branding agencies might have specific information they require, and as such may provide a questionnaire, but generally it’s useful to have a pre-prepared brief to send to companies as you make initial enquiries. If you’re writing a branding brief, here are eight things to consider and include:
1. Provide an overview of your company
Your new branding will essentially become the face of your company. Every time someone sees your advertising or clicks onto your website, the first thing they’ll see is your brand. The colours, imagery and logo will play a huge part in building up brand recognition, and giving potential clients a strong first impression.
As such, it’s important that your brand’s design process uses as much information about your company as possible.
Your branding brief should include an overview of your company. Write down a brief history of your company, include details of your products and services, and provide information about your target market.
Whilst it’s good to be as detailed as possible, it’s also a good exercise to try and sum up your company in a few sentences. This means your priorities when it comes to building a picture of your company will be front and centre.
As well as information about your company, it’s good to provide as much as you can with regards to your brand. Although the aim behind putting together a branding brief is to have a new comprehensive brand created for you, it’s also important to think about how you’re currently represented.
If you already have a brand, supply as many elements and brand guidelines as you can to give a clearer picture. Also, if you have any ideas or visions for your new brand, sum these up to. Creating new branding isn’t a one-way street – it’s vital you get your say to help shape the eventual results.
2. Specify your target audience
Once you have made the decision to rebrand your business there is an important aspect that must be immediately considered. Your audience. By definition a brand is more than just images, text and colours, it is the overall effect and how your business is perceived by your customers. For this reason to ensure your rebrand is successful, you must first know who to aim it at.
When deciding on your target audience you need to consider more than just who they are. Instead look deeper into their wants and needs, their values and what brings them to your business in the first place. Recognising these factors early on will help you to tailor your new brand message to match, creating a more positive customer reaction to it.
Armed with this knowledge you can then begin to ask the question of what you want your brand to achieve. Is it to align better with existing customers? Is it to attract new customers? Is it to shake up the fundamentals of your business identity, changing your target audience entirely? All these are possible, as long as the new audience or aims are specified as early in the rebranding process as possible.
3. Tell us about your existing brand
This may not be your first rodeo. If you already have an existing brand in place then this can really help with briefing an agency on where you are at currently, and where you want the change in direction to take you.
Giving an agency an insight into your current value proposition, brand promises and values is as insightful as any information you are able to send across. Agencies will really want to dig deep into your existing culture and outlook, before working with you to establish improvement areas based on the agreed strengths, weaknesses and limitations.
You may have had time to reflect on your brand, hence the reason why you’re looking to write up a branding brief. Tell the agency about that process in some more detail. Similarly, if you have commissioned an assessment of your existing brand, your chosen agencies would love to take a look at that.
More often than not you may have received some feedback on your existing brand from your customers. This is valuable, too, and can really help shape this section of the brief that you put together.
To summarise, we would be looking for an overview of your existing brand and how you believe you are currently perceived. It would be really helpful to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses as you see them. It helps agencies to contextualise your enquiry.
4. What are you aiming to accomplish?
Now you’ve established who you are, who you’re aimed at and where your brand is presently – the next logical step in a branding brief is to open into your vision and mission for the project.
Start with your values and your vision for the future of the business. Where do you see this new brand taking you and what is the reason behind your decision to rebrand? The more an agency can learn about your purpose, be it sales, awareness or a shift in target audience, the better, as this will have a big impact on the direction their proposal takes.
How detailed an overhaul do you want the project to be? Remember, not all rebranding exercises span every single asset that a company has. Some projects will focus solely on colour palettes, or the logo assets, while others will be much wider in scope and offer a full repositioning of a company through the use of branding and design.
The choice is yours of course, but giving an agency an insight early doors will help them to make better suggestions in their proposal. At Pixel Kicks we will often set up a brand workshop in the early stages of a project to ensure that the mission and vision are cemented by a strong USP and proposition.
5. Identify your competitors
Keeping tabs on the competition is the best way to stay ahead of the game in all aspects of business, branding included.
Any successful branding brief will outline at least 3 of your main competitors, to give both yourself and your design agency an understanding of who they are and what they’re doing, both the good and the bad. That way, a benchmark can be set in terms of where you want to see yourself amongst the competitive landscape.
When analysing the competition you should ask yourself some of the key questions:
- What do you like/dislike about their branding and why?
- What does your brand have in common with them?
- Are you looking to be similar to them, or entirely different?
- Which areas are they ahead of you?
Getting the ball rolling with discussions about the competition at an early stage in the design process is ideal, so your designer can get an idea of where and how to position you in the market, and avoid steering too close to your competitors.
It’s useful to note that any brands you’re looking to compare yourself against or take inspiration from don’t have to be industry specific. If there’s a particular brand that’s outside of your niche but you like a certain aspect of their brand image/design, include it in your brief.
Competitor analysis is a huge step in the branding process, and offers crucial opportunities to discover gaps in the market and identify key strengths and weaknesses amongst the competition. Don’t overlook it!
6. Consider branding applications
Creating a brand extends far beyond designing a logo. You’ll need to discuss with your designer the types of deliverables you need, and consider where you plan on using your branding.
Will your brand be digital only? Or will you require it to be used on physical materials such as business cards, uniforms, leaflets, banners, etc? This should be communicated with your designer at an early stage, so they can cater for designing logos which work across both digital and print.
Different technical requirements will need to be considered for different applications – i.e. a logo which looks great on a leaflet may not stand up as well on a company uniform. If you do require a lot of printed materials, your designer will know to steer clear of certain colour palettes that don’t translate well to print.
Any good branding brief will list the desired placements of the logo, so the designer will be able to create something that works in every context. Any good designer will draw up various versions of your logo which can be used across different platforms, with usage instructions detailed in the brand guidelines.
7. Define your brand image
A phrase we often hear when discussing a rebrand is “I love the Apple website”, and this almost always induces groans from our designers. This is because your branding should reflect you, making you stand out from the crowd instead of blending into the sea of clean, white and suspiciously “Apple-ish” looking facades around the world.
Instead, define your brand message by what actually represents you best. Is your business in a sector where clean professionalism speaks volumes? Can you afford to take a few risks to show the fun side of your company? Is the purpose of your rebrand to reflect a new, bold and outspoken direction? All of these questions, if answered honestly, will allow you to identify what the right message for your brand is and will ensure that whatever message you decide on will be genuine and well received.
Another common faux pas to avoid is leaning towards a current trend or fad in your wider rebrand plan. Yes, for short term marketing gimmicks they can be effective, but building your entire brand around a viral image, font or colour-scheme will not age well, and in the modern era where trends change and evolve as fast as the internet can carry them you run the risk of outdating your branding before you have even gotten started.
8. Include any additional requirements
Beyond your branding, let us know what the next steps you’re looking to take are. Are you looking for a fresh, new website to showcase your brand? Do you plan on going into digital marketing?
By including as much information as possible, we’ll be able to shape our brand proposal to apply the brand changes across any social media platforms you’re currently using, and any other digital channels.
Ready to get started with your new branding? We offer full-service branding, website design & development packages across all industries. Get in touch with us to find out more.
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