How can clients help their designers develop a new website?

When going for a massive redevelopment of an existing website, or of course when developing a new website and brand from scratch, there can often be a challenge conveying what a business represents (or certainly what it aims to), to the designers, so that your logo, website, brochure, etc. is actually in keeping with your brand.

Something I often discover, is the regular lack of self-awareness people had of their own company, and how it should best be represented.

Of course the larger multinationals and such like have very detailed brand guidelines, dictating precisely; where a logo should be positioned and what’s allowed around it, the colour pallet you’re allowed to use in any branding, the target market, brand words and messages, etc.

However, virtually all smaller businesses have never done this, or even thought about it.

They might use standard ‘Word’ templates for their letters. They may have had their logo designed by someone in the company who’s a bit artistic. And any colour scheme may be based on however they feel that day, or black because that’s all their printer’s ever been able to print.

But if you ask them who their company really is, what it represents, and how it should best be described, more often than not, blank looks are what you get in return.

So today, whilst listing a few questions for a new client to better understand their business, I figured you may also find these questions useful in better understanding your business, and particularly how you can share this understanding with a designer outside of your business.  

Brand Development Guidelines:

  1. If your brand was a building, what type of building would it be? (ie modern office block, old traditional church, country cottage, etc.) If you actually know a building physically, do include a photo or its name/location.
  2. What sort of interior would it be? (ie minimalist, comfortable, steel, etc.)
  3. What type of fabric? (leather, cotton, silk, latex, vinyl, fleece, towelling, knitted wool, etc.)
  4. If it could be any colour, what colour and shade would it be? (you can use paint charts if you like)
  5. What other words might you use to describe the colour (ie warm, fresh, vibrant, cool).
  6. Do you have secondary colours that also come to mind, or a scene or picture with complementing colours?
  7. What weather, in what season, and at what time of day would best represent your brand? (try to describe the moment if you can, ie a cool winter’s evening at dusk after a fresh snowfall, a bright sunshine new day of spring surrounded by flowers and green grass at 11am, etc)
  8. What shapes come to mind? (2 or 3 dimensional, cubes, triangles, spheres, ellipse, flowing curves lines, jagged lightening, particular art sculptures, etc.).
  9. If the brand was water, what would the water be doing? (glacial frozen, fast flowing river, white water rapids, waterfall, gentle stream, meandering river, pond, lake, ocean, puddle, cloud, etc.)
  10. If your brand was an animal, what would it be?
  11. If it was a plant, what type of plant, and at what stage of growth?
  12. If it was a smell, what smell would this be?
  13. If it was a feeling, a physical sensation, what would that be?
  14. What human emotion best represents your brand? (or small range of emotions)
  15. If it was music, what type of music genre or song?
  16. If it was a sound, a single sound, what type of sound?
  17. If it was a musical instrument, what type of instrument, and who’d be playing it?
  18. If it was a famous person (or people), who would they be, how old would they be, and what would they be doing?
  19. If your brand was a holiday, what type of holiday would it be? (family, business, sports/active, pampering, relaxing, historical, tour guiding, backpacking, etc.)
  20. If it was a vehicle or form or transport, what sort, and at what speed?
  21. If it was a TV program, what would it be (ie family soap, comedy drama, documentary, question show, news program (and which one), etc.?
  22. If it was a food, what type of food?
  23. What type of drink would it be (and how would it be served)?
  24. Do any other visual images that come to mind?
  25. Are there any other words you’d use to describe your brand?

The more of these you can answer, the more likely your designer will be able to better understand your business from a design point of view. Of course if you have any questions for us, please do let us know too!