Branding is a daunting, hair-greying hurdle for business owners trying to take their brand to the next level, but having a seasoned designer take over the branding process with their years of expertise makes it smooth sailin'.
I've cataloged a sliver of my branding process for Kaizen to show what goes into developing award winning branding, and what to expect if you choose to work with me. Kaizen's branding has received the following awards from the American Advertising Federation:
First and foremost, we gotta figure out if we're a good fit. In this noncommittal step, you tell me about yourself and your business, and I educate you on how branding works so you can make informed design decisions, even if you don't end up working with me.
Demystify branding and how it all works together
Identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses and goals
Identify gaps in the market and what nobody is doing yet
The guys behind Kaizen were eager to leave the branding to the designer (Omakase style if you will), with the one request that it stand out from the usual high-gloss white-washed sushi spots. I decided the best route was to unify Japanese and Phoenician culture–Blending traditional art with Downtown’s grit.
The branding process should never start with pencil sketches. Meaningful design requires inspiration to give it intent and dimension, so this step is where hours and hours of research go into crafting a unique jumping off point.
Delve into history to pull inspiration
Concept a meaningful jumping off point
Find a way to unify the branding and the space
My main inspiration for Kaizen was the traditional Japanese art of "Ukiyo-e" prints. These woodblock prints depicted serene scenery of ombré mountain ranges, signed with a rectangular stamped "Hanko" block signature .
The Ukiyo-e's gradated mountains reminded me of the gritty spray painted textures seen throughout downtown Phoenix, and the jagged mountain silhouettes reminded me of all the half-torn wheatpaste posters. The dichotomy of fine art and street art was a perfect jumping off point for the branding.
This is when shit gets real. I assemble all my inspiration and begin crafting the logos, color scheme and other elements that support the brand. To ensure the brand has real world practicality and isn't just pretty to look at, I design and render 3D mockups to show how the brand works in real life.
Concept, sketch and vectorize the brand's primary and secondary logomarks
Create a strong color story
Meticulously select and pair fonts to utilize and create branded content with
Render 3D mockups of how the branding works in the real world
In the big reveal presentation of the branding, you'll see a fully flushed out ready-to-go brand identity complete with 3D rendered mockups to show how your brand actually looks and works in the real world.
You'll never just see a black logo on a white screen–That's just a logo, not branding.
After the branding is presented and approved, you'll receive the following:
Brand standards manual
Primary and secondary logo files
Brand colors with HEX codes
Brand font pairings and usage
Print ready business card files
The brand standards manual is your guide to correctly utilizing your brand. This contains how to use your logos, how not to use your logos, the brand's colors with HEX codes and usage, the brand's headline, subheadline and body copy font pairings with size ratios and usage, and any additional elements if applicable.
Once the branding is completed I CAN BUILD OUT MORE THINGS LIKE:
If you're the kind of person that likes options, you can opt for two or three branding concepts to choose from. Unlike other designers that just make a couple tweaks to the logo or change some colors and consider it a "second option", I completely start from scratch at the inspiration phase to create something totally unique.
The alternate concept for Kaizen shown here took inspiration from the transformation that Japan undergoes at night, when all the izakayas light their paper lanterns and the streets fill with people. These exact mockups and renderings were shown along side the original concept in the initial branding reveal presentation.