I had the privilege of co-critiquing Mary Melilli’s graphic design class at Salem State College yesterday with Jose Nieto of Square Zero. I was immediately impressed with the process the students went through on their logo design projects, and their professional presentations. Its virtually identical to how we work.

The most difficult part of the re-branding process is defining the client’s brand. Students used a list of keywords to describe the different aspects of the company. And based on those words, found some images to further illustrate those concepts. These images and words were the foundation of each company’s brand.

For example, if we were to define Domino’s Pizza’s brand using keywords, we might use “pizza, hot, fast, coupon, tastes good, college, easy, delivery, fun, bright”. To be honest, we probably wouldn’t include “healthy, gourmet, or even inexpensive” – unless the client told us that is where they want the brand image to go. The name Domino’s is kinda fun and so was that “dot guy” they used to use. Good branding should evoke most of these ideas and emotions – not just “good pizza”.

Another way to get there is by answering questions like “Why would you buy a Domino’s pizza instead of one from the little shop around the corner?” or even “Why do you like Domino’s?” These give honest brand answers rather than what you THINK the brand is about. Your’s is just one opinion of course. You can spend a lot of time on this and involve a lot of people if you choose to.

At every step in the process, its important to read through these words to remind us what the overall brand is. Focus on the “feeling” words and not so much the factual. Domino’s chose a domino rather than a pizza for a reason! By always focusing on the brand, the end result – whether its a logo, a magazine ad, or a web site, will consistently communicate the right message.