10 Keys to Successful Branding Projects

Through contributions by members of RGD, the Association has established a growing archive of case studies covering a wide range of projects, clients and areas of expertise within the field of graphic design. Each project highlights a unique set of challenges and expectations which designers have been called upon to address and surpass to deliver effective design solutions. From these case studies, RGD has identified 10 key lessons for working with clients to develop effective branding. 

  1. "Identity systems have to work across a wide range of media – from paper to pixel to place. The best ones are built as a flexible system that can be reconfigured for a wide range of applications without losing their unifying impact." John Furneaux RGD, Projektor (Canadian Gift Association Branding)
  2. "A client-approved creative brief is the best tool to ensure alignment between the client and design team." Brent Roth RGD, Perennial Design (Rudolph's Bakery Packaging)
  3. "Seek out the emotional heart of the brand – it will inevitably lead you to a more powerful, and therefore more engaging identity." Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Blok Design (CEE Branding)
  4. "Before you start your design process, ensure that you have a clearly defined brand position with supporting personality traits, essence and value proposition. The goal of any designer is to ensure the executed design builds differentiation and creates relevance for the given target audience. A well-defined brand position is critical to ensuring these are met." Jean-Pierre Lacroix RGD, Shikatani Lacroix (Restaurants Canada Branding)
  5. "In the case of a brand revamp, recognize that the client may have a strong emotional attachment to the existing look. Assess their comfort level for change up front. Are they ready for a design revolution, or would an evolutionary approach be better?" Irina Khvalova RGD, Colourphill Design (Sneak Peek Orchestra Branding)
  6. "Knowing where a brand shouldn’t live is as important as knowing where it should. Before you start work on a project/re-brand, work closely with the client on a creative brief so you are both clear on who the target audience is, and who the target audience is not. The more we know about the brand and the problems we are trying to solve (and not solve) the clearer and more focused we can be when building the brand." Marko Zonta RGD, Zync (Hangar9 Branding)
  7. "The success of design projects hinges on the relationship between the designer and the client — that means working to understand your client and their needs and respecting their capabilities. Establishing a good, collaborative relationship is one of the most rewarding parts of the design process and is an absolute necessity to produce successful work." Michael Barker RGD, Acme Art + Design (The Pedagogical Impulse Branding)
  8. "If you are working with a start-up, make sure the client has a plan. Taking on a start-up is always risky. They should have a strong  business plan that clearly articulates what they want to do and who they will sell to. If a start-up does not have a solid business plan, run." Robin Honey RGD, HONEY Design (Forked River Brewing Company Branding)
  9. "Remember – clients like the way designers think. Presenting a range of concepts can help clients better understand how they want to position their companies and it makes for healthy discussions." Bob Hambly RGD, Hambly + Woolley (Forest Hill Orthodontics Branding)
  10. "On large projects with multiple stakeholders, there will be delays, setbacks and unrelated subjective criticism. Stay focused and on-strategy and the reward of great work and client gratitude will prevail." David Brown RGD, Mindshape Creative Brand Marketing (Town of Newmarket Branding)


Interested in submitting a case study to appear on the RGD website? Download 'Guidelines for Contributing Content' and email