Branding; the activity of connecting a product with a particular name, symbol, etc. or with particular features or ideas, in order to make people recognise and want to buy it.
“Branding is what distinguishes your business from those around you and represents your values. It builds recognition, trust, professionalism and tells the story of your business.”
Although there is no cookie cutter method for creating a brand and we usually don’t know what a client’s brand will end up looking like when we first meet them (which is half the fun), there IS a process we go through as a Creative Team, which takes us on the journey of producing a unique, considered brand which represents the vision our client comes to us with.
Defining the brief
Because it is so important to us that a brand not only works within the market and speaks to the correct audience, but also successfully tells the clients’ story and is a true representation of their vision, this stage is very important to us.
Using the strategic work the client has done with The Red Tree to date, we help them fill out an initial questionnaire to define a clear brief that we all can refer to while working through the stages of the project.
We also find that it is important to explore what the client not only likes in a brand but also what they dislike – as branding is very subjective, this helps guide us.
Time to delve deep; research into the beauty market, the demographic, what’s appealing to our target audience and how they are engaging with brands.
Audits of competitive brands from a creative and copy POV, allow us to get some benchmarks of what we are looking for from the branding. Our final solution needs to have standout in the market but also sit alongside its peers.
This is one of my favourite parts, using all the useful information we have gathered in the previous stages and then letting our minds wander in all directions to grasp inspiration and ideas from all areas of media. We use this stage to catch sparks of ideas from things we read, look at, explore online and offline and we use mood boards to show our clients’ our initial thoughts. Like a look inside our minds!
This is where we take the visual ‘workings out’ and develop a series of concepts that will create the overarching idea behind the clients’ brand. We feel it is important to have a clear concept that is the foundation of all the other brand details decisions that follow. This will influence the name, logo, colours, typography TOV, brand story, packaging and all other extra details that will create a clear, consistent brand.
Once we have a name and concept, the logo design can begin. Using the brand brief, research and initial ideas, we will research, develop and refine our initial logo ideas.
We will go on to produce several top-level logo sketches that we share with the client to help refine it down to 2-3. We will then develop those further, showing them on packaging, to help decide which route to take. We then finalise the chosen logo and start to evolve onto usage alongside the brand assets and in situ.
This is the point where we develop initial ideas from our concept stage and refine a clear colour palette for the brand. It usually consists of 3-4 main colours but also 3-4 extras, so that they have a range of colours that they know work harmoniously, represent the brand concept and allow the brand to grow.
Everyone I work with knows I love a font and will talk to anyone that listens about kerning, serifs, sans serifs and the difference between the o’s in two typefaces BUT, in all seriousness, I do think a font can work wonders on the visual appeal of a body of words. It creates a depth of personality to a brand and shows that not only the logo, colours and obvious things have been considered, but also the finer detail. It’s the brand’s accent so to speak;) After presenting options for brand fonts, I will usually go on to choose a couple of typefaces to a brand, so that it can speak in more than one way and help the consumer clearly navigate through the hierarchy of information.
Because we work primarily with beauty, skin and hair care brands, it has been really important for us to be involved with the packaging stage of the project – not only to make sure the branding we have created works in this environment, but also because it is important to us that the final product being created uses all the elements correctly.
During this stage, we research packaging that we feel is fit for the purpose of usage, aesthetically follows the concept, branding and ideas and also hits the mark with sustainability values of the brand. We produce 2D mock-ups, which bring all the brand elements together and show a clear vision of how the packaging will look. These can be used to brief packaging suppliers, bring the brand to life and generally show how all the brand elements work in a realistic setting.
On a lot of our projects, we also take the product to production stage, where we assist with sourcing the packaging solutions, produce the artwork and work with the client to get the product to shelf.
Now we have all the assets signed off, we produce a brand book which contains all the elements of the branding and a clear set of instructions of how to use them. This is the toolkit and manual that anyone from outside the business will be able to use to get a clear feel of the brand as a whole. It also ensures consistency throughout the brand.
During this stage we take the brand assets, cutter guides from suppliers and the pack copy and we create artwork for print with the 2D visuals as a guide. We work with printers and suppliers to ensure that the vision that has been agreed with the client, is produced in the best possible way and within budget.
And that is it! Although we go through the same process most of the time, the results differ so much (even within the same market), which is one of the joys of being a creative team that works collaboratively with our clients to bring THEIR passion and vision to life.
The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.
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