Designing with integrity: why strategic branding cannot be rushed

When it comes to estimating how many weeks or months it can take to design a brand, it is difficult to give a definitive answer. Creating a solid brand with strong foundations is much more than just a creative brainstorm, and the variables of each project can vary significantly.

The branding process, which includes ‘design thinking’ is unquantifiable. Every project is unique, with individual goals, needs and strategies. Because of this, the creativity that branding requires is hard to confine to the limitations of a project flow chart.

Of course you have to have professional balance, and deadlines in place, but we also try and factor in the timeline that authentic and meaningful solutions cannot be rushed. It takes time to get under the skin of a client and their brand.

Why does the design process take time?

As much as most creative professionals would wish it, inspiration cannot be turned on and off. Ideas are not always easy to reach, especially when you consider that we are not only after ‘an idea’, but an emotional connection and experience.

If we go back to basics, most of us are aware that a brand consists of the visual elements such as a logo, colours and typography. But that’s not all; strip away the surface and you will discover the less tangible elements that encompass a brand’s identity.

  • Brand promise: everything you stand for, your value proposition
  • Target audience
  • Brand differentiation
  • Brand positioning: how your business fits in the market and is perceived by customers
  • Brand voice

Our task is to work with you to create a strategy that incorporate all of the above, which then forms a brief for the brand identity (visuals). It is of course the logo that becomes an iconic representation of many brands, along with other promotional materials. But it is most important to consider the heart and soul of your brand, your purpose and your vision. It’s the experience your customer has with your product or service and how that left them feeling. This is what makes you unique.

Our creative thinking does largely follow a process, immersing ourselves in each project; but there is an element of intuition involved that cannot be defined. We call it the trusty 80/20 rule. 80% process, 20% magic. That intangible percentage of the process is made up of creative thinking and conceptual ideas.

It cannot be measured, but it can be inspired and we’ve found an approach to design thinking that works for us, that yields the best results.

Branding that is simple is not the easiest

In our fast-paced, technological society we are bombarded by brands all clamouring to be heard. Standing out from the crowd with a simple and compelling message is essential to cut through the noise.

Yet as easy as crafting that simple message may sound, distilling the essence of a business into a meaningful brand takes time. The creative process generates many ideas at once that have to be considered carefully one by one, left to ferment and revisited before developing or discarding. Think of a brand like building a house, you need solid architect plans, links to energy supplies, and foundations before you can furnish it.

In his article for All Media Scotland, Keith Forbes, former board member of the Design Business Association remarks how Good Creative are “often approached about ‘quick ideas’ as the potential client feels that this will somehow be ‘cheaper’. They have little or no understanding that, while an idea can only take a second to become clear, it’s the weeks and months of preparation and understanding that make that second truly relevant and valuable.” Keith’s valuable experience has been honed project-by-project over the years he has spent working in the design industry. Iconic designer Paula Scher echoes this feeling by saying: “It took me 34 seconds to draw it but it took me 34 years to come up with that idea in 34 seconds.’

Unfortunately, Many brands are being created under time pressures. In the creative industry, budgets are being squeezed and time pressures are increasing. And the bigger the agencies overhead, the more projects they have to take, and the quicker they have to deliver. Our small size means that we can hand select projects that best fit with us, meaning agility, responsiveness and lean thinking.

Cultivating relationships to create brands with purpose

All of this conceptual talk can be difficult to comprehend, especially for a business who is keen to move forward with their project and understand the timelines involved.

We are selective about the projects we take on. The integrity of your brand matters; to you, to your customer and to us. We view our work as partnerships and generate our best work within collaborative environments that allow ideas to be nurtured, challenged and flourish.

We create movements, not just brands

It’s about partnerships, falling in love with our projects, believing in our clients and creating work that matters for people that care, who share purpose and ambition to be better.

We create effective work with impact

Sail is a movement of ambitious designers immersed in creativity and stories, designing with head and heart, and commercial understanding to impact real-world change.

We test, measure and refine – until we get it right

We purposefully include processes that allow adaptability and flexibility, which often lead to more creative, innovative, powerful ideas and design solutions. We will always positively and expertly challenge-with reason for the best outcomes.

We seek to build long-term client relationships

The value of this approach is evident in the feedback we receive:

“Since first being in contact with Sail Creative until the sign off, there was consistently a feeling of trust, passion and interest. Sail completely understood the project and what it stands for…

I felt reassured that Sail was going to create just what I wanted [and] through clear communication and expertise, they pushed me to tackle various aspects to reach my full potential. We had a great partnership, which not only helped with bouncing ideas about the design and content, but which made the whole project a much better experience.”

– Megan Carr, USE-IT Newcastle

We work on client projects as if they were our own

We approach your brand with the integrity we show our own. Not satisfied with commodifying our work; we fall in love, again and again with our clients and our projects to create brands that last.

Integrity in ideas

We further pledge to stick by designing with integrity by being proud members of the Design Business Association. This helps us keep up to date with industry and ensure we are committed to best practice, following the guidelines set out by the DBA for its members:

• Best practice to achieve effective design solutions to better our clients’ business

• Competence in providing measurable value for our clients’ investments

• Commercially insured including professional indemnity

• Accurate and clear financial reporting

• Commitment to salaries and charge-out rates in line with UK benchmarks

• Continuing professional development of staff

• Confidentiality and professionalism

If you’re ready to take the first step on your journey to create a strategic and meaningful brand, then finding the right agency to partner with is key. If you want to chat, let’s have a cuppa!