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If you hang out with me long enough you’ll discover one of my huge passions is branding and company identities. Or just ask my friends. They know it all too well.

I’m not entirely sure what it is but I love the mixture of storytelling, visuals, icons, type, voice and business. So when the Gap released the latest iteration of their logo to the world – to the shock and horror of every designer on the planet – it got me thinking (again) about how crucial branding is for businesses.

While I loathe this new Gap logo, I have to admit that without the inside scoop on how they came to this visual decision I really can’t jump too far down their throats. I am a firm believer that branding is far more than the end result of a logo or icon. If this were the case there is no reason why any major company would pay millions of dollars to rebrand. They fully understand that the final logo, their mark, is culmination of countless hours of research, creative brainstorming, concepting, critique, and analysis.

In listening to Debbie Millman interview NYC designer, Eric Baker, I discovered this quote from Mr. Baker that I feels puts branding into perspective:

Design doesn’t begin at all until we’ve done some mood boards; we’ve looked at the competitive landscape; we see what we want to be and what we don’t want to be. And then we can begin extracting from these visual cues what this identity might wish to be, what this brand wishes to be.

This is music to my ears. No designer should begin to create a logo until they have some sense of the identity, the character, the makeup of the company or organization for which the logo is to be created. And hopefully the decision makers within that organization have the same identity in mind.

So the next time you see a poor logo design or hear about a company spending huge wads of cash to rebrand, remember that it’s the process, more than the final product that matters most. If you skip the process, you might as well just boot up Paint and make a logo yourself. I mean, c’mon, isn’t everyone a designer these days?

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