Depending on who is talking about it (or who is working on it), brand design can mean a lot of different things. Here, we explain our approach to brand design as a Webflow agency, as well as dive into some common mistakes that we often see out in the world.
For us, brand design is often our first step in a project — and it’s among the most important things we’ll do for a client.
Starting with brand isn’t a new concept — it’s usually a given. At traditional branding agencies, teams can spend many months delving into a brand, exploring every facet of it, before eventually presenting a brand design and position. Done this way, brand would be synthesized over the course of conducting dozens of interviews, speaking to a myriad of stakeholders and users before arriving at an overarching, concrete brand architecture.
While this is one way to get to a brand (and spend a whole lot of money), we don’t believe it’s always necessary. We think it’s possible to design a great brand in just a few weeks if you can get the right people in the room and ask the right questions.
At Edgar Allan, every brand design project starts with a discovery workshop.
When we had a physical office, a discovery workshop meant getting our client and all of the necessary stakeholders in a room, rolling out the white board and a stack of sticky notes, and spending an afternoon exploring the brand in question.
Now, we conduct our discovery workshops over Zoom, with tools like Mural and FigJam. But in person or online, it’s the same general idea — running through exercises to determine where the brand currently is and where it needs to go.
We ask about everything: audience, competitors, the story of the business, the feelings around the business. We invite everyone who could have a valuable opinion on the brand, coaxing out answers from everyone who has one.
After the workshop, we synthesize everything we’ve learned in a brand brief.
We conduct our own audience and competitor research, doing a deep dive into the current brand to understand what is and isn’t working about the established positioning. Then, we turn all of that information into something new, telling the story of the brand and setting its tone, vibe, and visual position with a brand brief.
This brief is as much for designers as it is for writers — it’s the full picture of the brand. In its creation, the strategist and designer work together to create a cohesive vision of the brand, one in which the story matches the visual direction. Not just logos and fonts and headlines, the brief sets the narrative and identity for the brand.
We make this kind of brand work possible by thinking of brand as a club, not architecture.
Rather than spending months to come to our final brand brief, we take a few weeks. It’s not because we cut corners — it’s because we understand that brand is a living, evolving thing, not a 90-page deck. Brand is everything that happens out in the world, not in conference rooms.
We’ve said it before, but at Edgar Allan, we believe brand is a club you build. It’s a feeling that works by making you want to be a part of it, grabbing you by some kind of emotional or logical pull and telling a great story. Identifying this pull and bringing it to life through the story, look, and feel of the brand is the purpose of brand design, so that’s what we focus on.
In our work, we’ve found a few common mistakes in brand design.
1. Not going deep enough. Brand isn’t just the one-sheeter of logo and colors and font — it’s the whole narrative, emotional picture. Don’t just stop at visuals or voice and tone: dive into specifics.
2. Not finding a strong idea to hang it on. It’s vital to find a strong emotional or intellectual cornerstone to base the brand on, otherwise it won’t create that feeling of club.
3. Not doing it at all. Take the time to do the work of defining your brand — even if (and when) it ends up evolving from where you think it is, you will benefit from having done the initial legwork of creating a brand.
Looking for a Webflow agency that can also handle brand strategy and brand design? At Edgar Allan, that’s kind of our thing. Check out our blog for more of our perspective on brand and Webflow, or reach out to see how we can help with your next project.