Are you an owner of a travel company or a rental firm? Or have you ever wondered how do businesses like these create their branding? If your answer to any one of these questions is “yes”, then this article is for you. It will explain what brand identity design is and how it differs from branding. Moreover, it will tell you who can design it, what are the options, what are the advantages and disadvantages as well as it will help you decide whether you really need to invest in it. The next paragraphs will give you lots of insights into the design industry so sit comfortably and read on.
What is brand identity design?
Do you know what logo design is? Most probably you do as, nowadays, almost every single holiday or rental business invests in the creation of a recognizable icon. Across all industries, logos became a must-have branding element. Without it, a business risks great potential loss as clients may face difficulties recognizing the company or finding it professional.
Brand identity design is an extension of a logo. Sometimes, it is also referred to as corporate identity design. Especially in larger firms and corporations. Standard packages include the mentioned logo design as well as business card design, letterhead, envelope and compliment note/slip design. In other words, it covers your entire business stationary but additionally defines your brand official colours and fonts. Although brand identity design doesn’t cover more elements such as web or packaging design, the specified colours and fonts give an insight to future designers on how to keep the brand visually coherent across all additional elements.
Brand identity design vs branding
Hearing all these brand-related terms can make one a little confused. What means what? Is brand identity design a synonym to branding? No, not really. Brand identity design, as previously mentioned, is about the elements that create an image of a brand in the eyes of a customer. The elements are often tangible like business cards or compliment notes. Branding, on the other hand, is a practice of shaping a brand. And a brand is the perception of the company in the eyes of the customer. So, there are three similar terms: brand identity design, branding and brand. Although they are often used interchangeably, all three have a different meaning.
Who can design it?
Imagine that as a travel company, you have finally decided that it is the right time to invest in the brand identity design. Seeing your competition working on their branding, you have concluded it is your turn to make your brand look consistent. You needed a logo anyway so why not spend a little bit more to receive a complete package? After all, when designed very well, it can give you a competitive advantage and, therefore, more customers. More customers equal, of course, higher potential revenue.
After the decision of investing in the brand identity, it is time to decide who to turn to. Who can design it? Can any designer do it? How about that friend of a friend? Using a connection will decrease the costs and make a friend happy. But will it help you achieve your goals and the effect you hoped for? There are three options of who you can contact to discuss the brand identity. Those are design agencies, design platforms and freelance designers. Each of them has a great number of pros and cons. Below, you will find the three alternatives discussed so that you can make a conscious choice tailored to your needs.
Design agencies show a traditional approach to design. Most often, the process of designing a brand identity with a design agency takes a long time and costs a lot of money. The reason for that is because in an agency there will be a whole team working on your project. Each person will be responsible for something else. As a result, the costs and time rise. Naturally, the more people involved, the more resources are needed to sustain the team.
But what does it mean a lot of time and a lot of money? Your question is probably how much and how long it is exactly. The duration of a project can reach up to several months. The costs would be most probably somewhere in tens of thousands of dollars. So, if you own a small or startup holiday business, this option certainly isn’t for you. However, design agencies do not only have disadvantages! With those long projects and costs comes very high quality. Design agencies are filled with professionals who hold graphic design degrees and can offer years of experience, often with big brands. So do not eliminate agencies too fast.
Nowadays, there are a lot of design platforms you can turn to for great graphic design services. However, these platforms differ in how the design process works. Hence, the advantages and disadvantages aren’t equal across all of them. In short, however, the platforms divide into those who value quality and those you value quantity.
Firstly though, let’s talk about the similarities. Design platforms are usually contest-based. That means that designers compete with each other for your business. If this still seems totally unclear, don’t worry. Below is the step by step explanation.
You choose your preferred design platform and click to start a brand identity (or any other) project. The platform, in most cases, will ask you then to complete a creative brief. A creative brief is a document that designers use as a base to start their work. It tells them what your company is about, where it is from, what holidays it sells or what cars it rents. Moreover, it gives an insight on who is your target audience, what is your preferred design style, colours, fonts, shapes, etc. If you think writing a creative brief could be a struggle, choose a platform that will help you with it by asking brand-related questions.
Once that’s ready, you will most probably be asked for a payment. After it is processed, the project begins and designers on the platform get to choose whether they want to work on your brand identity or not. Designers is written in the plural as more than one designer will create your identity. This is the moment where platforms start to differ in their process.
One example is 99designs, a platform that focuses on quantity. On this platform, there could be as many as 200 brand identity designs that you will receive. Out of these 200, you will choose only one winning design that you will use for your business. And only this one designer who you’ve chosen will get a monetary reward for his work. The choice is enormous. That’s great. However, such platforms don’t vet their designers. Therefore, in most cases, the majority of the 200 designs are very low quality showing no originality. And originality may be the thing that will make or break your business.
Another example is DesignBro, a platform that focuses on quality. Instead of 200 designs, in this case, there would be a maximum of 10. Hence, the choice is much smaller. The process with the designers looks the same. They start competing for your business and you choose only one winning brand identity. However, these designers are vetted and have lots of experience. Therefore, most probably every design you receive will be very high quality.
But why would one choose a design platform in the first place? First of all, because of the fact that you will be given a choice. Secondly, the time and costs that were high with a design agency are significantly decreased in the case of design platforms. The costs are somewhere in hundreds of dollars instead of tens of thousands and the time is decreased from months to weeks or days.
Last but not least is the option of turning to a single freelance designer. However, choosing one isn’t easy. You can either find one online or through recommendation. If you do know someone recommended, go ahead and discuss your project with him or her. However, if you don’t, online recruitment may be a little complicated. Freelancers range in their skills. If you’re lucky, you’ll find an affordable person who will design a great brand identity. But the reality may be that you’ll come across someone with little skills yet he or she can admit to being a professional.
What to do to avoid something like that? Most importantly, before committing to a certain designer, interview two or three more to get to know the industry standards. Compare their offers and ask to see a portfolio of previous works done. Study it and decide if this person has the skills needed for your brand identity. If he or she has never done a project similar to yours, perhaps this person isn’t the best one to go with? Consider all the variables carefully. After all, this is an investment that will have a great influence on the performance of your holiday business.