by Christine Goudie, MDes

The branding process is often thought to be an intimidating and costly venture for many small to medium sized businesses, especially those who are considering growing their client base or target audience.

A common question asked by many clients when working with a marketing firm is “how can I effectively contribute to the creative process so that my ideas are heard and the team can work efficiently in terms of time and budget”?

The answer to this question is simple. As the client, of course, your voice should be heard loud and clear with your ideas acting as the benchmark for the look and feel of the design process. Your budget and timeline should also be adhered to and respected throughout the process. At the same time, it is also important as the client, to know when to stand back and allow your vision to take shape in the capable hands of the creative team that you have enlisted to create your brand.

The Importance of Progress Meetings

To ensure creative efficiency, progress meetings should be held throughout the budgeted timeline to review and approve the direction of the creative process. An initial kick-off meeting with the marketing team will allow your ideas to be validated and integrated into the aesthetics of the upcoming work. Before attending such meetings however, it is crucial that you think through your initial ideas so they can be accurately articulated to the creative team.

Key Questions That You Should Ask

Things to consider before the initial meeting include:

  1. Which brand colours currently represent your business?
  2. Which alternate colours would you consider?
  3. What shapes or icons would best describe the nature of your business in the absence of words?
  4. Which common brands in the public sphere stand out to you and why?
  5. How would you describe your target audience in terms of demographics?
  6. Which other target audiences are you trying to attract?
  7. Who are your main competitors?

Answers to such questions should be noted and brought to your meeting as a way to further spark creative conversation within the creative team. Remember: marketing teams have a tendency to breed creativity once you provide the initial foundation upon which they will build. If you approach the initial meeting and creative phase without any input or ideas, the process will inevitably become a longer and more expensive venture for you as the client. If you intend on entering the creative process with a blank slate but are completely open to the teams’ suggestions and concepts based on their research, state this up front and anticipate a longer timeline and larger invoice that will reflect that.

Providing Client Feedback

When presented design concepts, you are always encouraged to provide constructive criticism and client commentary where appropriate. However, as the client, it’s also important to keep an open mind throughout the creative process.

There could be new colours, concepts or ideas presented to you, with an explanation of how and why those new elements can work for your business. Remind yourself that you enlisted a team of professionals to build your brand for a reason – which is to usually enhance your business positioning and to grow your target audience and customer base.  A skilled marketing team will help you better understand how to reflect your services in your brand, and how to grow your sales by standing out from your competitors.

The creative process should be a collaborative one, and it is also up to you as the client, to understand how to prepare and contribute in the most efficient way. If you strive to work effectively with the marketing team, it will ideally result in a rewarding and successful outcome for everyone involved.