A Work in Process

Feb. 12024

Designers discussing design options pinned to a black board

“If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”   

– W. Edwards Deming

Matchbox has created brands for countless clients over the last 25+ years. In that time, we’ve honed our process down to a…well, not a science exactly, but a system that helps us consistently deliver solid work. And while it can be tempting to do this work behind closed doors until the grand reveal, we learned early on how important it is to make that process a collaborative one. Surprises are fun, but we’ve found that a room full of nodding clients, content with the result of our work together, is a much better indication of success.

Designers picking brand colors from swatch books

So what about that process, then? It’s actually pretty simple:

Step One: Discovery. We get to know our client’s business, target audience, competitors, goals, and aspirations through an initial survey and a lengthy Brand Workshop meeting between our team and their key stakeholders.

Step Two: Strategy. Using the takeaways from the Brand Workshop, we’ll develop a full Brand Strategy that establishes the Brand DNA, personality, and positioning statement for the brand. We’ll refer back to this document throughout the process to ensure each creative step is on track.

Step Three: Naming (sometimes). If a brand name doesn’t already exist, we’ll lean into the research and strategy to create a list of names that will resonate with the target and differentiate the brand from competitors. We think it’s important to do this step after strategy, not before.

Step Four: Mood Boards. It’s common for agencies to present three (give or take) wildly different concepts in hopes the client will pick one of them. The problem with this is that at least two of the concepts (and a ton of man hours) are then destined for the trash. Instead, we start loose, presenting a series of mood boards to help settle on an overall creative direction – mixing, matching, and refining the concepts until we’ve agreed on a clear path forward.

Step Five: Brand Vision. This is the part where pencil meets paper. Logo, identity, color palette, copywriting, and execution examples all come together to bring this new brand to life in our Brand Vision presentation. Remember, we’ve been collaborating with the client throughout the process, so there are rarely any surprises at this stage. Ideally, it’s just a room full of smiling faces, proud that we’ve arrived here together.

Step Six: Execution (sometimes). Our work is sometimes done after step five, but clients often ask us to help bring their new brand to life more tangibly. Our shop is fully equipped to manage marketing campaigns, photo shoots, printing, packaging, and so on. When a new website is called for, our digital team will interpret the Brand Vision for an online audience and build a custom site that drives conversions.

Phew. You’re either a champ or an obsessed competitor to have read this far. It may sound like a lot written out like this, but our team works hard to make this process as pain-free (and even fun!) as possible.

So why would we post the recipe to our secret sauce on the internet where anyone can see it, copy it, and run us out of business? Because as highly as we regard our process, it’s our people who make it work. There’s simply no shortcut or substitute for talent, hard work, and a cohesive, cooperative team all aiming at the same target: branding perfection.