How to Do Client Research During the Brand Process

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Logo and visual identity projects require a deep understanding of the client. As a result, client research is intensely valuable to designers during the brand process. While designers don’t create brands (the client’s customers do!), designers help clients influence their customers to establish a strong brand. Markedly, graphic designers do this using visual language. For instance, tools like information hierarchy, colors, graphics, typography, layout, attention grabbers, and more combine to create a visual identity worthy of the client. Most importantly, client research provides the context for crafting that visual language during the brand process.

Basically, the dictionary defines context as “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.” So, client context includes understanding the client’s industry, Unique Selling Proposition (USP), mission and values, and business needs.

Research the client’s industry to determine imagery and tone.

Some industries are more conservative than others. For example: medical versus entertainment industries. Imagery, then, might look more muted and less adventurous in design trends. Imagery also determines subject matter. For instance, subjects might include certain age groups of people, urban landscapes, casual dress, or family activities. Consequently, client research helps designers craft the images and tones of the brand’s visual language during the brand process.

Research the client’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to determine brand positioning.

The USP is the distinguishing element from the client’s peers and competitors. A client’s market position can be defined as “customers perception of a service or product in relation to competing services or products.” A strong USP can help position clients as superior and more desirable than others in the market. Additionally, brand positioning attempts to influence that perception in positive ways, and strategic design can help. After all, thats what the brand process is all about. Also, consistent visual identity across media communicates professionalism and organization. Further, meaningful graphics are more memorable. Finally, clearly articulated and highlighted calls to action (CTA) make obvious how a client solves their customers’ problems.

Research the client’s mission and values to translate those into themes for the design, marketing, copy, and anything else in the Brand Process.

Repeat the client’s mission and values throughout the client’s creative media. The visual language should bolster that message with relevant imagery, appropriate palettes and type, and guiding layouts. Marketing campaigns and copy further promote that message by using the visual language and other tools to communicate with customers. Themes must be clear and consistent. For example, Brandwatch gives a few ideas to get started on brand research methods, including speaking with the client’s employees and conducting open surveys.

Finally, research the client’s business needs to determine a solution.

The client’s business needs are the primary reason clients reach out to designers. Whether increasing sales, increasing membership, improving customer satisfaction, reducing costs, attracting new markets, or any other pain point, designers offer creative solutions to solve them all. Once the client has identified their needs, assemble all the pieces to the solution. Then, propose a technical strategy, creative strategy, creative styles and brand, and (project) management strategy. Together these overarching strategies dictate the goals for each step of the creative project and ensure all the research above comes together for a strong, clear message to customers. This client research during the brand process ensure the clients problems are addressed.

Applying Client Research to Creative Solutions

The following chart sums up these research activities and their goals. All the ideas surrounding client context correlate to a strategic design move. Client research is perhaps the most important part of the creative process. Without a strong understanding of a client, designers would fail to represent them well. Research provides the inspiration fundamental to crafting the perfect creative solution.

How to Research Clients for a Design’s Context

Client Context Design Elements


The industry

Influences how to design

Imagery, tone
The client’s USP
Brand positioning
The client’s mission and values
The client’s needs

Next Steps:

Client research clearly informs the brand process. The next step is crafting the brand with a strong logo and/or visual identity. For brand presentation ideas, check out How to Plan Great Designs: A List of Design Deliverables.