Archive for August, 2011

How to work better

While these guidelines have been spread widely across the web and adopted by countless organizations and individuals, credit goes to Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss who created this 10-point manifesto. It certainly has relevance for all of us who are constantly refining the process of brand development.


Building a brand platform

I collaborate throughout the year with the talented designer Melissa Mahoney of Indigo Creative. She recently asked me to develop a piece on a service we often offer to clients, and share it with her AIGA colleagues in Santa Barbara. Here it is:

So many times a client comes to us with the need for a refreshed website, a print mailer, or a new look for a presentation, product packaging, or trade show. And like so many design professionals, we often jump right in with the visual design and content development.

That can be a mistake, however, if the client hasn’t really identified their target audience and positioning in the market, or defined their own brand identity and how their offerings provide true benefits to customers.

And that’s when we find the collaboration bogs down, direction shifts, and frustration starts to build. The problem is, we have no true guide that can direct our design processes. We’re driving somewhere new without a map.

Define the Brand

We all know how to ask our clients: “What is it you do that’s different, and why is that important?”  Yet too often we include these valuable discussions as part of our design process.

At Indigo Creative, we try to begin any new project by taking a step back from the requested website, print piece, or other tactic.  We ask to review our client’s current brand identity, and create a “brand platform” that will serve as the foundation for all of the design and messaging that follows.

In that platform, we provide a snapshot of where our clients are at currently and what opportunities they are targeting. We define three key components that make up their core brand identity. We help them position themselves in their market, and review their competitor’s brand positioning. And we start to develop visual “look and feel” concepts, along with preliminary taglines and messaging that express the brand.

Build the Platform

This brand development process inspires our clients to take a good close look at themselves, and really define what they’re all about. It’s heavy lifting, but provides valuable benefits.

Once we have this brand platform in place, then just like an ad agency’s creative brief, all design and messaging decisions can be developed based on its findings.

Aim for Consistency

The other key advantage is that we now have an agreed-upon guide, a “Brand Bible,” for all tactics that follow. There’s a consistent visual design that is shared by the website, the print collateral, the digital media, and all other client-facing tactics. And as we’ve learned, consistency is essential to building a strong brand.

For more about how to develop a brand platform as part of your design services, contact us, or visit

Robert Hyndman

can be reached at his Laguna Beach studio, 949.497.3179, or by using the form on the Contact Me page.
August 2011
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