The running joke around the Braizen offices is that we are one part designers, one part consultants, and two parts therapists. Over the years, we have noticed that a lot of our process involves drawing information out of our clients to help us to inform a new brand identity. The questions we ask of them go beyond “what’s your favorite color?” or “what are you drawn to visually?” and are often more along the lines of “what do you hope to accomplish with your business?” and “what were you like as a child?” We sit our clients down on the metaphorical couch and let them talk, scribbling notes and pausing now and again for a “Mm hm” or a “that’s interesting.” This process hasn’t developed from a need to be nosy or intrusive, but because we have found that the best brands – our best work – develops out of the unique, personal experiences and perspectives of our clients and learning how they came to be where they are.
And while this process is incredibly helpful to us, we have found that it is indeed therapeutic for our clients. More often than not, clients are caught up in the need to “get it done.” There is a sense of urgency there (and understandably so) to get the branding “out of the way” so that they can get to the business of financial stability. It’s our job to encourage them to slow down, take a breath, and really examine themselves and their business – who are you, what do you do, what does it matter. It is through answering these tough questions that an honest, consistent, and long-lasting brand identity can be established. These questions challenge the client to really look into the motivations below the surface and find strength and purpose in those motivations.
Furthermore, it is through these questions that we help the client think about the aesthetics of a brand – the visuals, the text, the space – at a more cerebral level as opposed to the more superficial aesthetic perspective. “Pretty” is nice, but it’s only a small part of what a brand is supposed to do. Brands are like people, in that while appearances may be what first attract us, it’s the substance that keeps us coming back. So, when we have clients “meditate” on their purpose (yes, some of us at the Braizen offices are of an age that still enjoys nag champa and good sandals) and write narratives about how they came to become business owners, we are asking them to dig deeper into themselves to find something real and honest to build upon.
With some clients this comes fairly quickly (see Meghan Boyer), with others the process is a Homeric journey (see Thistle & Muse), but, regardless of the time it takes, we put trust in the process because the results are always amazing. When we formed Braizen, we did so using this very process. We dug deep within ourselves to discover why it was we were taking this leap together. We each shared our personal vision for the company, what our roles would be within this business, and why it mattered that we did this. We talked about our ideal clients and how we would bring them to us. We talked about our approach and how we could create the best client experience possible. And as we built Braizen, we built this process – we took turns on the couch.
So, if you are considering taking the branding journey, with us or another designer, prepare yourself to answer the hard questions. Prepare yourself to really delve deep into what drives you to do this thing you do. Prepare yourself to get at the heart of your business. Finally, and this is important, be sure to find a comfy couch.