Brand Design – The 8 Key Steps

After many years in the industry, a fresh brand design project still excites me. This rare opportunity to create something from nothing, while also helping a brand reach its full potential.

It’s a delicate blend of creativity and strategy, where you strive to encapsulate a company’s essence in visual form. This intricate exercise requires a thoughtful and methodical approach from the moment a client brief lands, to the delivery of the final design. In this blog, I’ll try to unravel the thought process involved, exploring the 8 key steps, from understanding the client’s needs to breathing life into a brand through well-crafted design.

Embracing the Brief

The journey begins with a client brief – a document that serves as the foundation for your work. This is not just a set of requirements; it’s a window into your client’s aspirations, values, and market positioning. Very often a client struggles to express themselves in creative terms, and therefore a comprehensive onboarding form is required. Additionally, a skilled designer understands the art of reading between the lines, extracting not just what the client explicitly states but also what they may not be articulating.

You need to truly immerse yourself in the client’s world, studying their industry, competitors, location and target audience. This holistic understanding is crucial for creating a design that not only aligns with the client’s vision but also stands out in a very crowded marketplace.

Research and Inspiration

With the client’s world at the forefront, you then need to delve into extensive research. This involves exploring design trends, colour psychology, cultural influences, and creative trends relevant to the client’s industry. This phase isn’t about copying existing designs but rather seeking inspiration to form a unique and innovative approach.


Armed with a good understanding of the client and a wealth of inspiration, you can then embark on the conceptualisation phase. This is where ideas begin to take shape, evolving from abstract concepts to tangible design elements. Sketches and rough drafts come to life as you explore various directions.

This phase involves constant refinement and iteration. You need to keep the client brief in the back of your mind at all times, ensuring it not only meets the requirements but also encapsulates the brand’s unique personality.

It is at this stage that you can truly unleash your creativity as every wild thought and concept is considered and tested against the brief and market.

When you near the end of this process you should have multiple concepts and designs. It will then be necessary to take a breath and consider each one again. At this point, you’ll need to refine your concepts and narrow them down to the strongest few, bearing in mind that they must stand the test of time.

When a client is presented with too many or too few concepts, they are often left confused and unable to make a decision.

Mood Boards

This is a process where we collect visuals that resonate with the brand’s identity. Creating mood boards is a crucial step for establishing a visual language that will later be translated into the brand design. It’s about setting the tone and creating a foundation upon which the brand can build its visual identity.

Presentation and Storytelling

We never present only logos to a client. A well-crafted and compelling narrative is always necessary. It’s not just about showcasing a logo; it’s about telling the story behind the design. This involves articulating how each element contributes to the overall brand narrative and why certain design choices were made.

Effective communication is key during this phase. You must convey the thought process, rationale, and emotional impact of the design to ensure the client fully understands and embraces the final product. This storytelling aspect adds depth and meaning to the design, elevating it from a mere aesthetic creation to a powerful brand statement.

Refinement and Feedback Loop

Few designs are finalised on the first try, and it’s important to understand the value of feedback to refine the designs. Presenting the initial design to the client opens the door for constructive criticism and further iteration. This feedback loop is essential for fine-tuning the design to align more closely with the client’s expectations.

You will also need to navigate the delicate balance between adhering to the client’s preferences and offering expert guidance. It’s a collaborative process where both parties contribute to the evolution of the design, with the end goal of creating a visual identity that resonates with the target audience.

Building a Visual Identity

Once a concept and logo is chosen, you can continue with the brand’s visual identity. This involves the creation of colour palettes, typography, styling and other visual elements and layouts that will become synonymous with the brand. Every decision is intentional, from the choice of fonts that convey a specific tone, to the colour scheme that evokes desired emotions.

The scalability and versatility of a logo are of utmost importance. A logo, for example, should work seamlessly across various platforms and mediums, from billboards to favicons. This requires a meticulous approach to ensure the brand remains cohesive and recognisable in diverse contexts.

Delivery and Implementation

Once the design is refined and approved, you can shift focus to the practical side. This includes providing the client with the necessary files for various uses, ensuring the brand guidelines are clear and comprehensive, and offering support for the initial rollout.

At this stage you will collaborate with other professionals, such as web developers and copywriters, to ensure a smooth integration of the brand across different platforms. It requires attention to detail to ensure the design translates flawlessly from digital to physical materials.

Additionally, you should offer ongoing support to the client, helping them navigate the challenges of brand implementation and providing guidance as the brand evolves. This collaborative relationship extends beyond the initial design phase, fostering a partnership that contributes to the long-term success of the brand.

In conclusion, the brand design process requires a delicate balance of creativity, research, collaboration, and strategic thinking. Ultimately, a successful brand design is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s a powerful tool that communicates the essence of a brand while engaging and compelling the target audience.

Klea Ferreira

Always friendly with exceptional client service, Klea is an experienced designer and digital guru. After completing her studies and winning a D&AD and Loerie award in succession while working on a number of international brands, she relocated to sunny Mossel Bay. After more than 15 years in the industry she still loves every step of the creative process - from concept to final design. She’s also an avid photographer, illustrator and artist.

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