The 3-Round Branding Process (and Why It Doesn’t Cost $5)


Why should I pay hundreds of dollars for a logo when I can get one for $5? And why do some companies pay up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a logo?

Anyone who has ever forked out cash for a logo has wrestled with these questions. It would help to think about it this way: you’re not just buying an icon or a doodle to represent your organization. You are visually defining your organization’s values.

The process of branding is the process of creating a flag that you and your customers can salute. (Not just customers: your followers, fans, clients, partners, employees, etc.) And you all know that in doing so you’re agreeing upon the same ideas (principles, values).

Think about Coca-Cola. You can see a Coca-Cola logo anywhere and know what it represents. (Even now, when you see the logo in your mind, your body is probably responding to the desire for a cold bottle of fizzy cola.) That’s the Coca-Cola flag.

Branding is more than just a logo. Branding includes your brand’s typography (fonts) and colors as well. And it works best when you use the least amount of these as possible to communicate your brand. If you can use less colors, use less. If you can use less words, use less. If you can use less icons and drawings, use less. Make it as easy as possible to recognize and understand.

So how do you craft this flag?

From my experience, I’ve identified 3 processes, or “rounds”, involved in getting your brand done:

Round 1: Discovery

The first thing to do when crafting your brand, is to look for other brands that inspire you. Think of other logos that you like, that inspire you, and are relevant to your field of work. Collect reference images for yourself and for your designer. Without reference images, a designer has no clear direction, and can spend much of his/her own time, and the client’s time, to just find that direction.

As a designer, the first thing I do in the branding process is go over to Pinterest and create a reference board (a “mood board”) for the project. (Btw, I make this a secret board.)

At this point, I like to whip up a number of quick designs to send to a client to get a sense of what they’re feeling about the brand. It’s almost like having the client point out a criminal from a collection of mug shots (but without the negative trauma). Hopefully, at some point, an image will click: “that’s the culprit!” Now a visual direction is agreed upon.

This isn’t meant to be a lengthy process, but it’s good for a designer to use some deliberation and come up with a handful of quick ideas for a client. It’s good also for a client to understand that this is the level of talent he or she has hired, and these are basically the options available.

Round 2: Refinement

Here is the bulk of the work for the designer. After you’ve agreed upon a general design direction, this is where you apply thought to it and try every concept that comes to mind. If you can think about it, it’s your responsibility as a designer to try it.

Although I design direction has been agreed upon, there may be quite a bit of back-and-forth at this point. I like doing a round of mockups once per day, over the course of a few days. This helps me benefit from the clarity of a night’s sleep in between each round of mockups. I find a have new ideas each day (well, mostly).

Round 3: Finishing

It’s time to pick a design and run with it. Once the client confirms a design, it’s time for the designer to flesh it out to the last detail. Here you apply the best of what you have to offer to your client. You don’t let the brand leave your studio (laptop) without the assurance that you did all you can to make it a beautiful flag that clearly communicates the values of the organization.

Keep in mind that a brand may not come out perfect. What it is is the best visual representation of your organization within the budget and timeframe you had at the time. You can always revisit your branding later down the road and refine it more. But I recommend taking what you have and running with it.

If you make an effort in defining colors, typography, and your icon/illustration, you have an advantage. You’re already way ahead of many organizations in your field that opted for a $5 logo instead of a well-thought-out brand.

Singing Scout loves making brands for people who want to visually communicate their values. Would you like Singing Scout to craft your brand? Click here to get the party started with an initial consultation.


  1. Kambani Ramano on 10/03/2017 at 14:00

    I like what you said about branding being more than just a logo. as you pointed out, it influences our perception of an organisation or individual. it can even be visceral, like with Coke. one thought that I keep returning to when I think about branding is: ‘a good name is more desirable than great riches’. the better the flag – both in form and substance – the better the return on investment, or so the logic dictates.

    ps: digging how your business has evolved. still a big fan of your work. I am inspired.

    • Adam Lee Rosenfeld on 14/03/2017 at 13:10

      Kambani you rock, bro! Love seeing the stories you’re telling. Thanks for the support!

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