Brand Design Starts at the Drawing Board


brand designThere are lots of good brand designers out there who think that good brand design is about a nice logo. Great brand design, however, is comprehensive, continuous, consistent, and starts at the conception of the product itself. Brand design should involve every aspect of your product. Ideally, your brand design will extend beyond the name, the logo, and the slogan to the product’s packaging, marketing, distribution, even its end-user. And it should do so in a way that is seamless and ongoing. Here are a few, often overlooked aspects of great brand design:

1. Continuity and consistency are cornerstones of great brand design.

There needs to be continuity between the design of the product, the name of the product, and the logo. Audi entered the market after Mercedes was established with its Mercedes three-point star logo, and after BMW was established with its propeller logo, so Audi chose a logo made up of rings. It was reminiscent of the Olympic rings. But more importantly, Audi’s logo was consistent with the rounded design of the car it represented. You also want to be continually on message. If it’s a green product, you don’t want to pollute the stream where your product is manufactured, for example. You want to say, “If our brand design is green, then our product has to be made under strict environmental standards.”

2. Consider every facet of the end user.

Who are they? What’s important to them? How will they see this brand? How will the brand impact them? What is the benefit of this brand to your distributors, to your retailer, to your consumer, to the world? Does your design bolster the benefits to each of them – and address any limitations? What will your audience accept?

3. How the customer discovers the brand

The method you choose needs to be consistent with your product and with the purpose and message that you want to convey. If you’re going to advertise on TV, you may want to use color, graphics, characterization, or choose scenes that show your product in action or that sell the feeling of owning your product. If you’re going to advertise through signage in the marketplace, space will be limited, so you may want to display a gold medal or an endorsement so it will stand out.

4. Distribution is a requirement of great brand design.

There are great products rotting in warehouses all over America. You can have the greatest brand design in the world, but no one will buy your product if it doesn’t get to the shelf. Make sure you understand how your product will get from production to your end-user. Consider how your product’s appearance, packaging, and labeling will effectively move through each step along the way.

Great brand design is a comprehensive and challenging project that requires much research and thought. If you can make it clear, meaningful, symbolic of your distinctive attribute, as well as straightforward and helpful to the distribution system, you’re on your way to great brand design.

Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest selling wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Brand Design by offering your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.