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I get a lot of people filling in my logo design brief with junk copy just so they can get a sense of what questions are spread out over the five pages.

This actually bothers me for a few reasons, but the main one is the sense of disappointment I feel immediately after being excited at thinking another job has come through.

I see the email; I think I have a new job; the excitement hits me; I read the email and discover it's just been filled in with gibberish which ultimately leaves me with a huge sense of disappointment.

For example: job enquiries have been very quiet the last month, then last night three submissions came in! I was so excited. Turns out all three were from the same person, and all filled in with complete gibberish. But before realising it was gibberish, I thought I had three new jobs come in. That really does piss me off.

One-page logo design brief dummy

So to try and reduce this frustration, I have created a one-page dummy of the logo design brief which is downloadable as a PDF for you.

The thing is, one only need ask me for copy of the form rather than wasting your own time filling in 5 pages of complete twaddle. Just saying…

Now one doesn't need to fill in my form with junk just to get an idea of what questions I ask, and you'll save me the bitter disappointment in the process.

Download One-page logo design brief dummy

It's common for people to ask 'So, what do you do' as an opener in conversation, opposed to 'who are you'. Same with a project brief for a logo or identity design.

People believe that asking 'what we do' defines who we/you are and once an answer is given, we are labeled accordingly. The mass stereotype begins.

Society often steers definition away from the self to the collective. When we are asked 'what do we do' before anything more personal, we are demoted to being just a performing entity rather than a unique and sentient being.

Next time you are talking to someone new, and before you have asked anything personal, except maybe their name, show some real interest and defer from asking the 'so, what do you do?'.

An identity is not so much what you do

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a new client. During the process of the client providing me with information on the company for the upcoming logo design, I realised something far more important was being totally left out.

I really couldn't of asked for more information on what they have done and what they do and how they do it. (Bear in mind this this is a rebrand, so the company has been around for some time.)

The missing information was the personality of the company, it's soul, it's own unique characteristics that stand it out from all the other similar companies. The personality differences that help contribute to a company having a USP 'Unique Selling Point/Proposition/Position'

The client was so enthusiastic about telling me what they did and how they did it that I had little idea on the 'who' other than than how I perceived the them. How and where it all started, it's early formative years and how it has grown, how clients perceive and talk about it, and how the company had evolved was all unknown.

This wasn't a huge problem, but it was an interesting observation.

It's easy for a client to explain why and how they do what they do, but not so easy trying to verbalise the companies core identity. It's not something that all companies even really think about. I have worked for quite large companies that had a distinct lack of vision in this area.

Defining a companies personality and identity can be hard, not all of us like the idea of opening ourselves up to friends and families, it can leave us feeling vunerable. But for a company to have the best shot at being around a few years down the line, they need to 'really open up'. They need to put themselves out ther  and that is scary stuff to commit to.

This is how I like to explain it.

You have ten companies, represented by ten naked manquines. They represent the companies but are devoid of anything really unique, 'who' they really are isn't particularly apparent.

The company that starts to show an interest in it's visual appearance/identity, how it looks and acts, will start to dress the mannequin up and work on expressing itself both visually and verbally.

It now becomes more attractive, more of interest than the other nine.

Then some of the others see this change, see their competitor wooing the customers, and they start to play 'dress up'. Some do it for the right reasons and some do it for the wrong reasons. Some play copy cat and some just do it because they feel they have no choice rather than really believing in it.

The companies that 'believe' in this transformative evolution will have higher odds of succeeding. It's not just a once over makeover though, it has to be maintained and altered as the mannequin gets older and starts performing other duties. In other words, once you start, you can't really stop. Hence company rebrands and logo updates and refreshes. All part of a company growing up.

This doesn't guarantee success of course, they are so many more variables, but a companies identity is just one crucial ingredient.

Poke around

With your next client, make a point of poking around a bit more. Once you know what they do, found out about the more intimate stuff. You can't really design an identity for a company if you don't have all the juicy details. The logo may look pretty and cool but it will be skin deep, it will lack depth, character and real personality.

The more you know and understand, the more options and choices you will have to work from.

This isn't just about working on a larger identity project, it's just as important when working on the logo design. The more you know about 'who' the more you will be able to craft something that contains more than a descriptive icon of what they do.

If you're stuck trying to make sense of a clients brief or explanation of what they do, try simplifying the task and start again.

I will read the online form that potential clients take the time to fill yet all too often feel I am reading an obituary rather than a colourful and useful introduction to their business.

Not everyone finds it easy to verbalise such things or even consider that this business has potential to be a strong personality with a dynamic heart and soul. Often seen in a sterile and practical way, devoid of feeling and emotions.

My end game, deciding if I should take on a new project, is to get a more intimate awareness of this business. Only then can I truly gauge if my design style is an appropriate fit. I believe it's wrong to take on all logo and identity projects, even if you don't feel it's a right fit.

Show genuine interest in what they do

The following paragraph is an example of what I will send to a client in order to dig further under the skin. It is usually enough to evoke a deeper and emotional response from the client. Helping them to better perceive their own business, and how they describe it to others.

The idea is for us, both client and designer, to feel more more connected.

This is NOT an exact copy of what I send, it's just the points I usually make, shoehorned together. Feel free to borrow, edit and do as you like with this. It may sound a bit 'guh' and 'blah', but it can work a treat if you follow it through. Certainly will give you an idea of what I angle for.

A request for deeper insight

We are at a point where a deeper understanding and view of your business is needed. I have the facts, I have the details, but what I don't have is any emotion, passion and soul. Without these, we are like surgeons, not creatives. We might be able to fix and cure, but we cannot create and build (plastic surgery aside).

Could you pelase explain more about what you do, how you want/need to be perceived by potential clients etc. View me as someone who does not know anything about your business, I am someone you are trying to describe in detail, the heart and soul of what you do.

The trick is to imagine introducing a loved one to a dear friend for the first time, you will talk excitedly, you will be animated and passionate whilst explaining all the virtues of this person. The good points and maybe the bad, and the areas that are just unknown. Sometimes we find it awkward to talk openly about a person but we may get excited and motivated about something else in our lives, whatever sparks up that pilot light, use that to help.

It may feel awkward at first and quite foreign, but it is essential that you relate to your own company in an emotional and deeper way. Only then can you really understand what is required to brand and market yourself accurately.

To be able to visualize your business in a deep and meaningful way, is to see and hear all that you know, feel and think about it. Look at is as a person with an evolving personality, one that you are helping to put on the right track in life.

Without that deeper and meaningful description, we can only touch the surface with a visual representation of the company identity. If you want future clients and customers to build a profitable and emotional bond with your company, we would have to ideally built in a level of emotion to start with.

This is where some fail, business owners failing to understand the real driving force of a successful brand and company.

Back to me

As a designer you may feel uncomfortable with this, but it can be so important to creating a really strong identity. The times I have needed to put this in action, I have seen a real change in the clients response. One minute the brief is very solid but lacking in soul, the next minute I can really sense the real excitement and drive that made them start it up in the first place.

Often you then hear them saying what a useful exercise it was, to be reminded of some of these most basic feelings. This method is not needed all the time of course, but some of those projects that need that 'zest', it's a good thing, trust me.