The thinking has to come first

Knowing where your brand is going is vital before any design work begins.
Let’s be clear, one of my pet hates is listening to a business owner talk about the need for a new website, wanting a logo redesigned or new signage produced - with no reference to the strategy that needs to be defined first. When you stand back and think about it, being clear on what you want to achieve and how this fits with the rest of your brand strategy is obvious, but too often ignored in the haste to dive into the design and having something tangible created. Haste in branding is dangerous. 
So, by now you realise that we have a different approach. Our rule is that no design starts until the thinking is done and a strategy defined. We want to explore your business ethos and values and how this is represented by your brand character, where you are positioned in the market, your offer relative to the key competitors, your look and feel, what makes you distinctive and your main proposition and core messages. 
This is captured in a brand strategy document that acts both as a brief for the creative phase when we produce the brand identity and marketing communications, and to communicate internally within the business to ensure that the rest of the team understands how the brand is developing or changing.
Back to the main point: how can you design a logo, website, literature, signage or any other marketing material without knowing where you are going and what you are trying to achieve? You are in danger of doing design for design's sake and making judgments on whether you like the visual aspect of the design, not whether it fits with well defined, coherent and consistently delivered branding. Every aspect of the Apple brand fits a style, attitude and positioning that is clearly thought through and consistently delivered. 
To come clean we are ‘poachers turned gamekeepers’ with many of the Luna team ex-corporate marketing people. Our brand training is deeply ingrained and always starts with the ideas and the thinking but the process is not just one for corporates, as it applies equally to small and mid sized companies. The time taken to do the thinking is usually less – given that the big companies often allocate months to strategic work – but that does not stop the same brand thinking process happening in one or two strategy sessions plus some time for reflection. We love logo and identity development and all the creative design stuff but despite the temptation – not until we are ready.
Alun Williams | 9 May 2016