As a freelance graphic designer, I have established a clear procedure to work and communicate with my clients. The reason behind this is clear: it builds a solid foundation to get started with the project, helps me to stay organised and to be more efficient and, above all, it's measurable.
When I start collaborating with a new client, I always stick to this process as I certainly work on making captivating designs and defining a consistent visual system that matches the values and inherent identity of the brand. For that, I combine my marketing and graphic knowledge to create the most outstanding and meaningful designs.
During this process I work hand to hand with my client to get crystal clear on what is the business about, which are its core values, its target and what they want to achieve with my services. Nowadays, in this increasingly competitive market, it is essential to have a well thought-out brand identity to generate a great first impression in the consumer's mind.
So let's dive into it and break it down into the following 6 steps or phases.
The Discovery Phase
The Research & Mood Board Design
The Sketching & Design Execution
The Proposal Presentation & Perfecting
The Final Revision, Delivery & Billing
The Ongoing Client Support
1 | THE DISCOVERY PHASE
Firstly, I get to know my client, its brand and which services they are looking for. For my part, I introduce myself and share my process, timelines and packages more in detail.
If we are a good match, I start with the on boarding process, which includes the design and budget agreement and the proposal. This outlines the terms and scope of the project, each person's responsibilities, the timeline and payment schedule and the expiration date, to make sure we stick to the timelines.
In order to get to know the brand more in-depth, I provide my client with a little bit of a homework: I send them a form and ask them to fill it up. This questionnaire involves some thinking my client has to do before embarking on the project. It includes questions such as:
What's the business name and the meaning behind it
What adjectives describe best your brand
What makes your business unique
What problem do you want to solve/address
What is the target audience of your business
I find this such a good exercise to do and really helpful for both parts. On the one hand, it provides me a very good insight of the company and their envision but it also helps my client to know better what they are looking for and to work though some of the foundational tasks in setting up a brand and a business vision. In some cases, this form even makes them consider some questions they didn't think about before.
Therefore, through this form, as well as gathering information about the brand, I also collect links to other firms they look up to and competitors, which really helps me during the creation process. I carefully read all the points and clarify any of them in case I'm not clear on anything.
At the same time, I create a Dropbox folder and start organising the project within folders like concept work, corporate identity manual, bills, mood boards, logos, stock photos... So that everything is neatly organised once we start working on the project.
2 | R E S E A R C H & M O O D B O A R D D E S I G N
Next up, I take all my notes and the brand foundation workbook and I start to do my research and to create a brand strategy guide.
This step is one of the key parts of my working process, as it supports the strategy of the whole project. It is what makes my designs intentional and meaningful, rather than just making things beautiful for the heck of it.
To do so, I carefully take time to research its competitors and think in depth about the target audience. From there, I start creating a mood board to represent the overall vibe or mood of the brand and defining the colour palette it will rely on.
Here's an example of a Mood board I created for a home decor store. The vibe and the tone it represents is clear: delicacy, tranquility, style, hand-made, beauty... My client absolutely loved it!
Sharing these visual boards with my clients really help me to make sure I've clearly understand the brand concept and its necessities. It also allows me to see what resonates with them, their brand and, most importantly, its target audience and gives me the chance to rectify any point I misunderstood.
3 | S K E T C H I N G & D E S I G N E X E C U T I O N
Here is where things get exciting!
Once the mood and the colour scheme of the brand is defined, I start working on the concept. I always begin by making pencil sketches. I believe it's so important not to lose the relationship with paper but rather to combine both tools - paper and digital - to take advantage of both and reach the best results. Also, in my opinion, designing before on paper makes my ideas flow more freely and naturally, plus helps me to be more productive: I design heaps of drafts and once I love one I digitalise it.
I take the logo concept and start determining the rest of the visual concept such as the colour palette and the typography. Then, I use mockups to see how the logo and these elements work together in its context. This shows the logo in action and gives a more accurate representation of the solidity of the brand.
4 | P R O P O S A L P R E S E N T A T I O N & P E R F E C T I NG
Here the logo and the brand itself are presented to my client. In order to have a perfect understanding of what are the client's thoughts about the proposal, I provide them a quick questionnaire asking them things such as: What logo stands out the most? What specifically do you like/dislike about it? What does it convey to you? etc.
After the feedback is given, I begin to readjust the concept if necessary, according to the agreement arranged at the beginning of the process - generally there are two revisions, but sometimes there is just one.
This is a really important step, as my major aim is that they get in love with their brand. Once the logo is perfected, I proceed to finish the Branding Style Board, which usually involves the following things:
Alternative Logos or Submark
Variations of the Logo - Use of corporative colours
Custom Brand Textures and Patterns
Corporate Identity Manual
5 | F I N A L R E V I S I O N, D E L I V E R Y & B I L L I N G
When the logo is finally finished, I make sure every file my client will need for printing, editing, websites, social media, etc is clearly organised in the Dropbox Folders that I created at the beginning.
6 | O N G O I N G C L I E N T S U P P O R T
I believe in long term relationships. For me, every project I embark is unique and special. I truly believe in the brands I work with and I love to keep hearing from them. That's why I offer a wide variety of services and branding packages: to create a cohesive brand.
Most of these packages include marketing pieces, which are corporative collateral items your brand will need to strongly communicate its messages and values. You can find more about all my services here.
As I mentioned above, I don't just create a beautiful logo, but rather try to get to the root of the brand foundation and build a relationship with my client based in trust and a strong communication.I put so much effort and love on each of them, so that when the project comes to an end, I offer ongoing support to all my clients. As I already know the brand and its core values, it's so much easier to keep working with them.
I also ask them for some feedback and a testimonial, in order to see what are the things they've love the most about working with me and which are the points they'll improve.
So these are the 6 steps I always follow when it comes to a new project. My process has been refined and perfected over time to be the best it can be and reach the best results, to serve my clients the best way as possible.
I hope you find it clear and helpful.
Thanks for reading!
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