I've been designing logos for awhile now, and I'd like to think that I've gotten better at it over time. Part of that is because I tend to have a few design goals in mind and a process worked out that lets me take concepts about what we want the logo to represent and turn it into a symbol. I feel like I'm capable of picking colors and type as well.
But, as I've heard before, "The logo is not the brand." Design shops like Wolff Olins make beautiful identities (here's a recent-ish one I like) where the logo is far from the most dominant part of the overall brand.
When it comes time to design a brand identity to surround the logo, I feel as though I'm not very good. I'll try to design brand guidelines with my new logo, but I feel like I either create something that doesn't fit the eventual work or I can't create a brand guideline until I make enough collateral to see how the logo, colors, type, and graphics work with the content the brand will actually use.
So, what kinds of processes yield better brand identities? Some possible sub-questions that might help clarify (or might misdirect, don't know!) what I'm asking:
- Do people tend to design the manual before or after they've created actual pieces?
- Do people have a pile of stuff that needs branded/rebranded when they're considering this step to refer to?
- Do people design their logos with the branding effort in mind? (If yes, GE and IBM would be strong counterpoints - full rebrands have happened with old logos).
- Is it possible that, because branding elements outside of the logo tend to involve professional photography or illustration and I'm not as strong in those places, that I'm just trying to lean too hard on vectors and type, which are more of my strengths?
I doubt if there will be a straight answer here. I'm really just hoping for someone who's made some solid brand identities beyond the logo to share some insight into how they made it happen.