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Branding & The Art of Measuring an Identity’s Success

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After all is said and done, it’s not the aesthetic complexity of a logo, or the lack thereof, that makes for the ultimate success of an identity project. We are midway through the branding process and we have now reached the most critical point. It’s time to reflect upon the original problem, review identity solutions, and make a decision. We got here together. An important branding decision is now required. You have to make it. What do you do?

Sure you can add or remove lines; use one color, or apply a hundred; sprinkle with textures for days, or make it as flat as the paint on your old hot rod. The sad fact is none of that will make a difference to the intended outcome. Instead, to truly measure the ultimate success of a brand identity (or a logo) project one must apply to it an entirely different measure.

In a branding project, specifically the identity, I’ve been fortunate enough (both as designer and client) to have occupied both sides of the fence. Let’s see if these examples sound familiar to you as a project winds down to a close.

As designer, one might be thinking, “I’ve been through all these iterations back and forth and now that I’ve landed on this one. I wonder… is it enough? Is the client going to understand the amount of time I spent to get to this result? What if I try…”

As the client, one may take that very moment to think, “I like this but it’s so simple. I know we’ve been through several iterations and a lot of thinking to get here. But I’m not quite sure this reflects the amount of money I spent. They say it’s the right solution. Maybe we need to push this further. I’ll just ask them to see it in two more color combinations and perhaps add a little more emphasis to the subtle shape hidden in the lettering. Or maybe…”

The floundering goes on and on. Phone calls are made. Meetings are scheduled. Deadlines are pushed. Additional hours are thusly applied. And the entire cost of the branding project is driven upwards. So, where does it end? Where should it end?

If there is one thing I’ve learned in 17 years, it’s the following:

When it comes to branding a product, its definitive measure of success (or the ability to say, “money well spent”) should never be bound to the perceived simplicity or complexity of the creative process. In fact, one has to absolutely liberate one’s self from precisely those concerns.

The accurate measure of success should instead rest upon these considerations:

Are you confident with the design team’s experience with branding?

Do you believe the team has an eye for well executed visual design?

Has everyone been properly and diligently educated on who the target consumer is and what makes them tick?

Is everyone on the team aware of the brand’s unique attributes and personality?

Has the lens of objective rationale been applied throughout the life of the project?

If the conclusive answer to every single one of these questions is “yes,’ then whether one is the brand manager or a creative on the design team, you can be confident that your project will live up to the most important (and only qualifying) measure of its success:

The ability to spark an emotional connection between consumer and product.

Once that moment has been reached; once that spark has been ignited; then, it’s just a matter of continuing the brand building and fanning that spark into a roaring flame.