15 questions to answer before designing your brand identity.
I love the beginning of new projects: the possibilities are wide open, everyone is excited to get started, and the energy is high. When working on a logo & brand identity project, one of my favorite parts is reading through the client's answers to my questionnaire. It tells me all about why they started their business, what visions they have for it, who they hope to reach, and what aesthetic styles they love.
My questionnaire has evolved a lot as I identify what truly helps me get to the heart of a business. It is fun to see clients think about their business from new angles! I also always ask for a Pinterest board with some inspiration images so that I can compare their words with their imagery - it's funny to see how they do or do not line up! In fact, I think asking your clients these questions could benefit you as a photographer, copywriter, business coach, or other similar business.
If you are starting your own business (or rebranding a current one), it is so helpful to answer lots of questions to help identify what direction you should go with your visual brand. You can do this when working with a designer or if you're DIY-ing it to get started! Here are some of the most helpful questions:
- Why did you start your business and what are some of its core values? This provides some background and helps articulate the type of feelings they want to convey.
- What is your elevator speech about what you do? It always helps to see a summary of a business, rather than the long, drawn-out version, to see what is top priority to the owner.
- Who is your target market? It's imperative that your brand appeals to the people you are trying to reach!
- Who (or what) is your competition? What sets you apart from it? This helps me see who in their industry I should be checking out to assure we don't create anything too similar to a competing business. It also helps researching what is standard in a given industry.
- When people think of your business, what words do you want them to use to describe it? This one is obvious, but it makes is easier to discover what type of look we should be going for to achieve that description.
- What are the most rewarding parts of your work? This one is always fun to read! Again, it helps identify the core of why they do what they do.
- What was the best feedback you ever got from a customer or client? This also helps show what kinds of things are important to a business so that we can make those qualities apparent in the visual brand.
- What do you see happening in your business in the next year? How will it grow in 5 years? This is great from a planning perspective. For example, a business may be online only right now, but knowing they hope to launch products in the future means that their logo will need to be adaptable to a small label - good to know when designing now!
- What about your current brand caused you to make changes? What isn't currently working? Of course, only applicable to a rebrand, but identifying the problems are the first step in finding a design solution.
- If your brand were an item in your closet, which one would it be? This one is always fun! The answers reveal quite a lot. For example, saying "black blazer" would mean your business is professional and no-nonsense. Choosing the leopard shoe would mean your business puts some spice and fun in their customers' lives. Or, the oversized sweater means the business provides calm, comfort, and ease to their customers.
- Which other brands do you love visually? What about them draws you in? It is imperative to get some visual examples of what the client loves. They may say, "I love modern design," but then their visual examples say otherwise! Words can often mean very different things to different people, so backing them up with visuals is important.
- Which colors are you most drawn to? Which ones turn you off? I wouldn't want to base a brand identity around red if that color repulses the owner!
- What kinds of typography click with you? Another one where visuals help (since of course a regular person may not know the correct terminology) but here I want to see if they like serif, sans serif, handwritten, block, all-caps/lowercase, playful, or serious, for example.
- Where will your logo be used? Like #7, it is important to know what scale a logo will be seen at in order to maximize its effectiveness. Seeing it on a billboard will be a different experience than seeing it in a Twitter profile!
- Which adjectives do you want to describe your visual brand? I provide a list of options in this question, words like: modern, classic, sleek, sophisticated, bohemian, retro, bold, playful, soft, bright, feminine, masculine, child-like, energetic, etc. Seeing the gut reaction to those words says a lot!
If you want to work on the questions for your own brand identity, simply download this free worksheet to answer all the questions for your business!