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Behind the Scenes: a peek at my brand strategy client process

Top down view of desk with office supplies

Written By: Michaela

Top down view of desk with office supplies

Everyone likes to see what things are going to be like especially when it comes to online businesses. How does the process really work? What do you actually get? How are we going to stay on track with this service?

I know it and you know it so I thought I share a behind the scenes peek at my design process. I follow this same rough workflow for branding projects as I do web design projects. There are of course a couple differences but the broad strokes are the same.

Let’s dive in!


Once we’ve had our initial discussion about what the project needs and the best fit as far as my packaging goes I’ll send my clients a quote to review ALL the details of their investment.

Once that has been approved I send the contract and invoice for the first half of payment. This get’s the client’s start date booked on my calendar for my next available opening, this date we will have the client’s strategy call to discuss specifics and brainstorm for the project.

Then comes the fun part! I send some homework to my client that needs to be completed prior to the start date of the project. This is fun homework I promise.

This consists of a questionnaire to help get my clients to clarify their ideas, start building visual inspiration, and tease out any ideas that they may not otherwise consider.

Also, right at the beginning of the process I also set my clients up with a client portal for the important business documents and a Trello board with deadlines and to-do tasks for the project.

Client intake information

Let’s talk about the kind of information I need from my clients to get started.

I typically send a questionnaire like I mentioned earlier to help clarify ideas and get some structure to the project started. This could include things like who is the audience for this project? What are your values & mission? Who are your competitors? What is your unique selling proposition or position in the marketplace?

I also intake certain contact information and help set a preference for communication during our project.

Now is also the time that I will give my clients a list of resources and materials that I need to get started. This allows me to get started on the start day because I can’t start without content from you.

Collaborative inspiration

During this time where my clients are waiting to get started, I also send some information on how they can get started gathering up visuals and helping tell me their likes and dislikes.

This is such a valuable part of the process because not only does it help me understand my clients wants and needs in a different way once they start adding to it I can decipher what their style/mood/personality from the project is and add some additional visual ideas to the mix for consideration.

My goal as a designer is to make sure that the process is collaborative and that we are on the same page the entire time. One thing I hate about the industry is that I often see people hand over their money to start a project then never hear from the provider until the end. At which point the product isn’t what was needed or there was a fundamental mismatch between ideas. I make it my mission to communicate throughout the project as well as look at the relationship as a collaboration.

This collaboration helps bring you the best end result as possible not only hitting your goals but having a strategic perspective from what the user is going to experience.

Mood board

Now that I’ve gotten all this information from my client I take some time to review everything and develop a mood board for the project. This will include things like textures or feature ideas, photography or elements that elicit the mood and look for the project.

This is a really fun part of the process because we can start to see how everything ties together.

Pencil sketches

This part of the process I start developing the ideas for how the final project is going to look and I do it in pencil. The act of drawing up ideas and different elements from the inspiration helps me see even more possibilities and opportunities to help bring the vision to life.

At this point, I’ll pick the best 3 – 4 options and present them to my client as pencil sketches.

Why leave them as sketches?

Well because I’ve noticed that clients can sometimes get hung up on the nitty-gritty details if the presentation looks to final than focusing on the overall idea at this phase. The nitty gritty details will come later but keeping it as a pencil sketch allows for more communication and less feeling like the idea is set in stone.

Refined digitized sketches (black and white)

Once the overall direction has been decided from the pencil sketches I take the chosen design and digitize it.

Digitize is just a fancy word for taking the graphic from a sketch to a computer file.

Now the graphic will be much more refined and more concrete. There may even be a few more iterations at this phase depending on what the graphic looks like and any other layouts/options that you may have.

From here I’ll get 2 rounds of feedback from my client about the nitty gritty and things they like/dislike. I try to stay away from things like

  • make it pop – pop isn’t a design term please stop using it use visual weight instead
  • make the text bigger
  • make the whole thing larger

Because these aren’t really helping me bring your idea to life, I’d rather help my clients use language like

  • I think this text gets lost
  • The balance between this element and that feels out of sorts
  • I don’t like the way the text curves here..etc.
  • These are design feedback responses that I can use to help us get to the final product

Oh, and I haven’t even touched on the fact that at this stage the logo is still black and white! This is so important because like in the pencil sketching phase there are certain elements that I need clients to focus on and right now color is not one of them. Right now I want to find the right layout, balance, and elements of the piece not if this green is too kelly green and not enough yellow-green. That comes later I promise!

Adding color to one or two logos

Now that we have a solid direction on one or two logos I go in and add color in various ways to bring your brand colors into the logo. This may seem like it creates even more options for you but it is nice to see a little variation in how color can be applied to the piece.

I want to make sure during this phase that the color your name is in, for example, doesn’t blend into the background or make someone’s eyes hurt because it is too bright.

This phase means we are in the final stretch! 

Making secondary logo/patterns/elements/collateral

Now comes a slew of other collateral that I create based on the choices the client made for the main logo.

Depending on what the particular client needs I’ll work on a secondary logo, patterns, brand elements and other collateral to make sure everything ties in and is cohesive.

Are you my next dream client? Let’s get started!

Blog Post Title - Behind the Scenes a peek at my brand strategy client process
Top down office supplies - Behind the Scenes Peek at my brand strategy client process
Blog Post Title - Behind the Scenes a peek at my brand strategy client process
Top down office supplies - Behind the Scenes Peek at my brand strategy client process

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