Improve your branding step by step. Special for art and culture

Although the concept of branding is common knowledge now, there still needs to be more clarity about its meaning and implications. In addition, only some professionals focus on branding for culture and the arts.

Here is some information and resources that we hope you find helpful!

What is branding?

There are many ways of defining this word, although we will all agree that it refers to another concept that makes up its name: brand.

Branding consists of communication and management strategies that help define a project or company's purpose, identity, spirit, and objectives. Although it is commonly thought that branding only refers to the creation of a logo and some other elements of visual communication, the truth is that for the branding of any brand to be well constructed, it must respond to a profound analysis that takes into account the personality of the company, its needs and those of its public, the medium and long term objectives, as well as other satellite elements to add depending on the particular needs of each case.

But... what is branding for?

The apparent use we can make of it is to help us identify and highlight our brand. There are millions and millions of brands, companies, entrepreneurs and projects. And although each one has its personality, they don't always know how to transmit it.
Branding is one of the tools that brands use to talk about themselves to the public and distinguish themselves from others. Good branding will show how to highlight the qualities and correct the defects that the company might have, so it will be another tool to sell the best version of your project.

What process should I follow to build good branding?

Each professional has a method, but we have created our methodology based on our experience building brands and helping entrepreneurs and companies generate solid branding.
It is the one we apply when we have to write brand manuals or define branding, but also the steps we follow when mentoring entrepreneurs so that they are the ones who follow the process themselves.

Before breaking down each step, we would like you to understand the importance of the first part of the process. What the end users see (the visual identity, the logo, the advertising campaigns) is a creative or technical response to the needs of the company or its target. It is essential to carry out a good analysis and study beforehand.

Visualise a brand as an iceberg: what we see (its look, its image) is only the tip of it, as it responds to a whole background: what the brand is like, how it speaks and what its tone is, what values it wants to transmit, how it moves, in what environments, etc.

Once this is clear, we work on the brand's visual and graphic identity. This more practical part of the process must be able to capture the values gathered in the first analysis. A good identity will capture the company's "age", energy and tone through the different visual elements.
For example, if we tell you: think of a sophisticated, elegant, sober brand! You will instantly have some ideas. Or if, on the other hand, we say to you: think of a brand that is "hooligan", carefree, youthful, fun... You should also have one or more examples in mind.

Suppose you can associate a brand's visual elements with conceptual and emotional values, such as those mentioned above. In that case, it is an indicator that the brand is well-built. As we said before, branding responds to its definition and values and palpably expresses them.
Let's not get bogged down any further. Here is the breakdown of the process of creating a brand's branding.

Step by step: creating good branding

1. The analysis

We start with the first and most theoretical part: the analysis.
We define the brand, how it identifies itself, and its traits and values as if it were a person we know very well.

At this point, we also establish what the brand would like to be like. If it is a brand with history, it may have stagnated in certain identity traits that do not currently represent it or do not correspond to its objectives or the ideal audience. It is also necessary to identify this and establish what the brand is like now versus what it should/would like to be like.
We identify what its audience is like through various exercises. We establish the identity of the brand's target audience, also defining their needs, problems, and desires. The brand might want to focus on communicating to another type of audience, in which case, we will also define it as well as possible.

We establish short-, medium- and long-term objectives so that all the practical actions we carry out in the development of the branding focus on satisfying the needs and goals of the brand.
This is a small summary of the first steps. Each case is unique, so extending previous analyses may be recommended depending on the brand.

2. First hypotheses

Once this first phase is over, it's time to move on to the practical part. We usually start with visual benchmarking, which helps us to understand how other brands in the sector position themselves visually. Once we are clear about this, we generate a mood board or inspirational board, which helps us to create a base on which to work.
From here, we work on different ways of experimentation. Although they all respond to the previous analysis, we focus on highlighting specific aspects of the brand.

3. Creating the visual identity

After studying the visual hypotheses, we select a single way and work on it until we find the definitive aspect of the visual identity.
Usually, when we work on branding and identity, we generate a brand manual, which collects all the visual elements that make up this brand: logotype, chromatic range, symbols, typographic families, and applications. Also, the non-verbal communication elements that define this brand are its tone of communication, its spirit, the values previously analysed, the personality of its public, the sounds, and the music that can be associated with the identity of this brand.
The brand manual can be as complex as the brand needs to be. Usually, if the brand is newly launched, it will be a small manual at the beginning and grow as the brand grows.

cultural branding

What should be taken into account when developing the branding of a cultural or artistic project?

Although the mechanisms will be very similar to those mentioned above, we would like to highlight some aspects that, in our experience working in this sector, we have seen should be strengthened:

  • Don't put the cart before the horse. It is common, especially in the artistic sector, for the entrepreneur to start with a logo produced by themself. Be careful with this. Cultural and artistic entities must represent themselves, respecting the link with the work or the creative style with which they work. However, try never to omit a proper initial analysis to avoid having to do double work in the future.

  • Avoid changing course on the fly - be careful! Creative people also tend to be impulsive. One of the characteristics of branding a brand (whether in the cultural sector or not) is that it will serve as a roadmap and reference for the decisions you make. If it is nice, it will be flexible enough to cover different situations. Try to stick to it and don't change your logo, colour scheme, or brand identity at the drop of a hat.

  • Respect the style guide. This point is close to the previous one. Try to stick to the style guide. You can make different creative contributions, but ensure they align with your design and communication. Although one of the characteristics of your identity is precisely that creative aspect that stands out in your brand, if you need to learn how to play it well, you can give the impression of a lack of seriousness or be careless. In the long run, this can lead to a need for more credibility on the part of consumers.

  • Maintain a clear discourse. Often, in the cultural and arts sector, language tends to be cryptic. The viewer should make their interpretation, and everyone will extract different information from the message. We are sorry; if this is your case, you should rethink how you communicate with your audience.

No matter how creative you want to be, communication must help the sender and receiver understand a message. If you hinder the message, it may not be understood as it should be. To avoid this, think carefully about the message you want to give in each case and try synthesising it so your audience can understand. There will be time for embellishments once the main message is clear.

We hope you find this informative and that you can implement some of our tips. If you have any questions, we will be happy to help you in any way we can.
As a reward for your recent arrival, we offer you a small free audit to evaluate the current state of your brand. Please write to us so we can review your particular case :)