If you are a freelance graphic designer, the first thing you are likely to do when receiving a brief or a request from a new client is to research their company. This is likely to mean going to their website and checking out their social media pages. You need to get a feel of what kind of company you are potentially working for to produce work that suits this company and its specific needs.
Although likely, the visuals of the site, the logo, and other communications will be either non-existent or not representative of what they are aiming to present (after all, why would they be hiring a graphic designer if their design is already exactly what they want?), checking out what kind of brand persona the company has (or is looking to develop) is essential for planning a graphic design strategy.
A brand persona is the “personality” that a company presents to the public. A brand persona encompasses every piece of visual and written content on a business’ site, social media accounts, advertisements, and anything else that is publicly viewable. It also encompasses a brand’s support messages and interactions with customers.
A brand persona has to be cohesive. If any aspect of the company’s communications—visual, tone of voice, etc.—does not match the rest, can the entire brand persona be undermined.
Whether or not you can identify a brand persona in your client, it is worth asking them what kind of brand persona they are aiming to convey—for example, are they looking to maintain their existing persona or develop a new one?
If their brand persona is funny, relatable, and wacky, using brighter colors and cartoonish designs may be more acceptable. However, if the client’s reputation is based on being mature and respectable, a more conventional visual style is probably more suitable. For example, the logo for a solicitor firm in London should probably be approached differently from a stand-up comedy promoter in Manchester.
Sometimes, the business industry and location are not enough information for you to work out their brand persona. For example, business water suppliers Scotland could have various approaches based on factors such as what kind of businesses they are advertising to. If you are unsure what kind of visual representation a company is looking for, why not sketch out a few rough draft ideas for different brand personas and present them to the client for feedback before working on the final piece?
If your client is not sure of their desired brand persona—or even unaware of what a brand persona is! Learning about brand personas could be an opportunity for you to add another string to your bow. Being able to advice on marketing aspects and graphic design can increase your value and expand your customer base!