The beginning any new relationship is the chance to focus your attention and really learn all you can about the person on the other end. Budding friendships, dating, new hires, new prospects – all of these can be the start of something even greater. And to make sure you’re getting to know who the other person truly is, you have to ask the right questions.

Whenever we kick off a new branding project, we have a series of questions that we ask our new clients. These not only help us to learn more about our client, but also their customers, competitors, values and mission.

The answers to these questions help our design team to create a logo and brand identity that help define what the company does and who they serve, all while showing off the personality of the business. A branding project is a two-way street of collaboration. Designers can make some awesome graphics, but they need your help and background knowledge to develop a logo that hits the mark.

Check out the following list of questions to see if you have the answers you need to get a brand project started.

Who Are You?

Are you at the top of the ladder or someone a few steps below who is in charge of managing this branding project?

Help your design team understand the chain of command involved in this design project, and make sure everyone is aware of who the key points of contact will be. It’s best to have one, maybe two, people on both the business and design teams that all communications can funnel through. That way no pertinent information, edits or commentary get lost in transit, from one team to the other.

Who are the Decision-Makers?

Similar to the above, make it clear who gets the final say. When more than three people are involved in the decision-making process, design projects can quickly become more of a death-by-committee situation.

It’s important to know when to involve others, and when to simply make the executive decisions. Make it clear, on both the design and review sides, who will ultimately be making all decisions. This way, even if multiple people need to have input, one person will be able to make the final call and keep things rolling along.

What Is Your Company’s Name – and Slogan, If Available?

Clearly, your designer will need to know your company’s name to create a great logo for you. This is your moment to make sure that you are on the same page with your designer regarding the spelling and details of your company name.

Many companies trail LLC, INC and other such acronyms behind their names on legal forms, but these don’t always make it into the logos and marketing materials. Apple, for instance, is actually Apple, Inc., but it would be ridiculous to consider calling the company anything longer than their simple, five-lettered name.

Slogans fall into this category as well. So this is your time to add, change, revamp or remove any slogans or guarantees that you may currently have attached to your logo and brand. This is your opportunity to brand and bring a new light to your company name, so carefully consider what you want to put out there, and share that with your design team for them to incorporate in the new branding and logo work.

What Is Your Company’s Mission or Focus?

The design team you’re working with should take the time to do their research and make sure they understand who you are, especially from your audience’s perspective. But this is a viewpoint from the outside-in.

It’s important that your design team is enabled to develop a brand that correlates how you understand your company’s purpose with how others will perceive it moving forward.

You get the first say in what your audience will see, hear and read when it comes to what your business does for them. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Help your designers understand both sides by sharing how you see your own company, and how you understand the services and solutions you provide for your customers. Share your core values, your mission or vision statements, and anything that can help your team further understand your business at its core.

Who Is Your Ideal Persona and What are Their Pain Points?

As with your mission and focus, sharing information with your design team regarding your key buyer personas helps confirm everyone is on the same page regarding what your company does, as well as who they do it for.

While your business’ logo and brand need to reflect your own personality, it is even more important that it matches the personalities of the people you are trying to reach. Give your designers an idea of who these ideal buyers are, so they can keep them in mind during the development of your brand.

Who are Your Competitors and What Is Your Differentiator?

Your design team will also benefit from understanding what truly sets you apart from your competitors. Your key differentiators can help to create a logo that not only resonates clearly with your audience, but quickly defines your role in the marketplace and your validity as a prime service provider.

Creating a quick list of top competitors likewise helps to ensure that your brand won’t come out looking like the rest. You want and need your business to stand apart, and with a truly unique differentiator and a logo like no other, you will be able to build a distinguished brand.

What Colors You Do You Like or Dislike?

I’d love to say that design is a science, and that we have tons of data to show why one color is better than another. But in the end, it’s all theory. Good theory, with a lot of great information and testing to back it up – reds are passionate and emotional, greens are techy or eco-friendly – but it’s more important to me that the colors chosen reflect the personality of the business.

Within limits, of course. Ultimately, your logo and brand need to resonate with your audience.

While you need to be clear with your designer on what colors you like or dislike, try to also give reasoning, and to explain why you feel that way. This will give your design team the opportunity to also respond with why certain colors you like will work for your audience as well, or even why a color you dislike might be a better option.

What Do You Like and Not Like About Your Current Logo?

If you have a logo already, or have some logo ideas that have been mulling about in your brain, share those thoughts with your design team. Try to give them a little background on the origin of the logo and the intentions behind this initial design. Let them know what you currently like and don’t like about it. Better yet, if you have relevant feedback about your logo from past clients or employees, share that too.

During a rebrand you’re not likely to just throw out all ties to your past branding or logo. There is history there, and even in a rebrand, employees and customers alike can appreciate nods to your past.

So share what is working, as well as what is not. This information will help to direct your designers and keep them from showing you anything you might consider old hat and outdated, while also continuing to pull from your company’s history.

What Other Logos and Designs Inspire You?

Just as your team should know what you like and dislike about your own logo, they should also be aware of other logos and styles that you like to see. These could reference your competitors, or they could be logos from any type of business.

Everyone, whether they notice or not, has a preference to certain styles of logos: modern, elegant, classic, floral, geometric, pictorial, typographical.

It’s important to share exact examples of logos you like in action, and to follow up with why you believe they work so well.

Similar to choosing color, it’s important for your design team to know how you feel about certain logo styles, so that they can strike a balance between what you want and what your audience will connect with.

Think on It

If you’re doing inbound marketing or have a marketing strategy of some kind, you should already be able to answer many of these questions.

Some are more personal, though, and based on your own preferences. When dealing with logo style, typography or color, it can often come down to your personality and that of any other decision-makers. It’s helpful to keep these questions in mind, thinking them over and considering what colors and design styles really stick out to you. Bookmark notable examples so that you can come back to them at a later point and reference them to others.

Your design team will ultimately be able to help navigate the branding project through the information you provide them and to deliver a logo that fits the needs of your company as well as your audience.

Do you have any spaces you tend to look to for inspiration in design-driven projects? Share them below.