In grade school, we were always taught to start writing an essay with an outline, but only after we've done our research. Why? It's easy to get caught up in loads of information and ideas, so the outline helps organize those ideas to flow in a logical pattern. And the outline rule didn't just stop in grade school. In the professional world, outlines take on many forms. Architects, for example, would never start designing a house without a well-defined blueprint. The blueprint serves as the road map or game plan for the entire design and construction process. You can't just start building a house or office building as you go along. Without a blueprint, the structure can never be properly constructed. It would be an inspection nightmare!
Much like an architect, the process of branding must start with a well designed blueprint. In order for customers to identify and build an emotional connection with your brand, you can't just make it up as you go along. You must do all the necessary research to lay the foundation upon which your entire brand will be built upon. While you might often associate branding with with consumer-based products such as clothing and food, service-based professions, including architects, must make a blueprint to develop a successful, authentic brand.
1.) Understand the Project
Simply put — what is it that you're doing? Before starting a project, architects meet with clients to determine the scope of the build and design. Are you designing an elementary school or boutique hotel? An office building or upscale apartment complex? The interior of a doctor's office? A three-story home? Obviously there will be different construction plans depending on the project. A blueprint for one structure simply won't work for another (unless you live in Pleasantville).
As an architect developing your own brand identity, you must understand what makes you unique. Do you specialize in commercial projects? Are you budget-friendly? Do you develop multi-billion dollar homes? Do you source unique, custom materials? To start sketching your brand blueprint, you must understand your differentiators — what makes you unique? Determine your valuable assets and what makes you better than the competition and a must-hire for your clients.
2.) Get To Know Your Target Audience
Architects discuss the goals, requirements and budget for any new residential or commercial project with their client before developing concepts for the structure. Without gathering this crucial information, there would be no direction for developing the proposed space. You must understand both the project and client personality to create the appropriate design experience.
Once you've defined what makes your architect company unique, get to know your target customer. What is your desired demographic? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? What do they value? What inspires them? If you're unsure, go straight to the source! Customer interviews are a great way to gather this significant information. Imagine the day-to-day life of your target audience and how you can make your client's life better. Once you understand your differentiators and the needs of your clients, you can start building your brand that speaks to directly to the values of your target audience.
3.) Work Within Your Budget
"What's your budget?" — It's one of the first questions an architect asks their clients. If budgets are tight, there might very little room for high-end finishes or special details. There's nothing wrong with a smaller budget, of course, but architects design the most efficient space that fits within the allotted budget. If you've ever watched "House Hunters" on HGTV, you're probably familiar with couples (with modest budgets) looking for houses that have crown molding, stainless steel appliances and a large master bedroom complete with a jacuzzi tub — and then the realtor rolls his or her eyes. In order to achieve budgets, there has to be compromise and a list of priorities must be made.
Like quality architecture, high-quality branding and design services aren't cheap. If you're an architect attempting to develop a strong brand identity, first create a budget and a list of priorities. Do you need a new logo? Marketing materials? Mobile-friendly website? How much are you willing to pay for these design elements? If your design is average, your clients will assume the same of your product or service. By investing in a professional graphic design and branding firm, your architectural brand will showcase your personality and speak to your desired audience.