The Elements of A Branding Package
Web design doesn't exist in a vacuum. In fact, when you're dealing with clients that 'want a web page', you often end up needing to give them an identity to go with it. They're putting the cart before the horse, and now it's up to you to give birth to a foal.
This identity is often referred to as a branding package. A branding package is a set of designs and concepts that show a company how to present itself in a number of media and methods. This can include a number of pieces including a name(!), a logotype, a recommended typeface, a recommended color palette, a logo, a tag line, and a style summary.
The Name The name of an organization has always been important. If you find yourself in the position of helping to develop the name of your client's project, then there's a few aspects about naming that you should think about.
For one you need to know if the name needs to reflect the the product or service that the business will provide, or if your client will have enough marketing muscle to provide support for an unrelated name. For example 'Creative Multimedia' didn't have a lot of marketing dollars, so their names quickly told the reader what was being done. However AmeriCard was able to change it's name to simply 'Visa' because they had the strength to support the use of a single word to identify their service. The vast majority of the time, you're going to find yourself giving a name that needs to quickly identify the company without having to bring in additional information.
Another obvious consideration is the domain name. Most of you who are reading this will have an understanding of just how important it is to have an easily 'thinkable' domain name. If your client, "Bill's Wonderful Wires", thinks that he's going to get www.bills.com, he's sorely mistaken. But that might not be such a bad thing. The domain www.wonderfulwires.com is still available, and it just might be a better name overall for his business. Plus, wonderfulwires.com would have a much better chance of being 'thinkable'. When I say thinkable, I'm saying that if someone remembers that Bill's Wonderful Wires has some great deals on copper wire, the person might try 'bills.com', 'billswires.com' or 'wonderfulwires.com'. However if your client has taken your sage advice and relabled themselves Wonderful Wires, it's very likely that a potential customer will type in 'www.wonderfulwires.com' before looking elsewhere.
If you find yourself in the position where you're going to 'making up' a name for new project, try making a list of words and phrases associated with your client's industry. Now add to that list words and phrases that express the concepts that your client wants their customers to feel. A financial institution might have 'money, stocks, bonds, banks, markets, bull markets' and 'security, strength, growth, and wisdom' in their list. A tattoo parlor might have something different. Take these words and phrases and use them like jigsaw puzzle pieces, matching prefixes and syllables with those of other words and phrases in the list.
The Logotype A logotype is the setting of a name in a particular and often distinctive type treatment. OMSI uses a particular logotype for their identity. AT&T uses their 'death star' logo along with their logotype to keep their identity consistent. Before you get to a logo, be sure to develop a logotype that will put forth the name in a consistent and recognizable manner.
The Typeface Once you've developed a logotype, it will be easier to choose a typeface that the client can use for all of their correspondence, advertising copy, etc. This article is too short to go into a discussion of typography, but if you need help, read 'Stop Stealing Sheep'.
The Color Palette Now that you've got your shapes, you need your colors. Choosing colors is the most difficult part of the process for me. I hate choosing colors. If you find any great ways of choosing colors, let me know. Till then, stick with hue families, colors of the same saturation, and colors of the same temperature (warm colors, cool colors, etc.)
The Logo Finally we've gotten to the fun part, the logo. The logo should be the visual representation of some of the words and phrases that you brainstormed when you first developed the name of the project. If you haven't already done that, do it now. Try to make sure that your logo makes just as much sense in black and white as a line drawing as it does as a full color printout.
The Tag Line Now take those words and phrases that you've by now got at least one list of and put each one onto a small slip of paper. Put all the slips into a bag and being pulling them out in groups of three. Use these to make a tag line that accurately and succinctly describes your client's project. If it sucks, put the slips back into the bag and try again. Repeat until you find a good one. Salt to taste.
The Style Summary Finally, take everything that you've learned from the exercises above, and write a small (no more than 500 words) essay on the basics of how to use the elements that you have created.
What else? You could go on and add layouts for letterhead, envelopes, business cards, etc. if you like. Once you've read this piece, take a look at the step-by-step outline for creating a branding package that I've developed at my current job.