This is part 1 in a 6 part series on the process of designing a brand from the ground up. This is the process that 6foot4 uses. We like it but feel free to agree or disagree and tell us about it in the comments. These articles are for Designers and Clients alike. Both groups could benefit from a little more education and discussion.
We need to start with defining some terms so we are starting from the same place. Your definitions may vary but for this series of posts we will be using these definitions.
Brand - A brand includes everything, physically, emotionally, and mentally associated with an entity. This means you don't control your brand as people are free to think and feel what they want, but you can attempt to guide it.
Design - Design with a capital "D" refers to developing marketing or promotional pieces. Stuff that is created in software.
design - Design with a lower case "d" refers to an all encompassing strategic plan the directs brand decisions and Design.
First and foremost clients need to understand that not all Designers are created equally. Some Designers only do Design and others are capable of being both designer and Designer. For a client to get the most out of their money they should be looking for someone who can facilitate the design process. These strategic people will view the client/designer relationship as a strategic partnership and will view your success as their own success.
Typically these Designer/designer people are not "Freelancers." This isn't true of all freelancers but in general a freelancer focus more on visuals than strategic planning. This is because most people go into the Design industry to make pretty things, but the world is rapidly changing and we need to think strategically about our Design. Designers need to design experiences and conversation. Free Lancers often produce great work and there are times when you may have a designer that can't Design. For example if you are completely confident in designing your own brand then you may hire a freelance Designer. Here again look for a Designer that doesn't only Design for aesthetics but for both business success and aesthetics. Finding a solution to both designer and Designer in the same person or agency would be ideal as it make communicating brand attributes, strategy and design easier.
Clients and designers should have a face to face meeting if possible to get to know each other a little bit. You should be able to tell if it will be a good working relationship or not. Don't just talk about the potential project, get to know what makes each other tick. You are looking for a strategic partner remember, it's an important relationship.
After finishing this post I realized I forgot the most important component that needs to be in place before anything else. Passion. If you don't live and breath what you do then there is no way in HE* that your brand will be on top. You have got to want to share your product or service with anyone and everyone you can. Not because you see them as a potential sale but because you can't help telling them about it. It's engrained in your DNA. If that doesn't describe you, then you should stop where you're at and take an honest look at what you're trying to do.