Design a Brand Identity: Stand Out from the Crowd | Courtney Eliseo | Skillshare

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Design a Brand Identity: Stand Out from the Crowd

teacher avatar Courtney Eliseo, Brand Clarity & Design

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Intro


    • 2.

      Competitive Analysis Overview


    • 3.

      The Research Process


    • 4.

      Analyze Your Content


    • 5.

      Creating Your Document


    • 6.



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About This Class

Learn a simple, reliable and strategic process for designing a brand that stands out from the crowd.

In this class, Courtney will let you in on one essential piece of the branding process she's used with her own clients for the past 10+ years—the Competitive Analysis.

The Competitive Analysis is a visual document that will help you to find your own unique place in the competitive landscape.

You'll go through the process step-by-step, so that you can take this knowledge and use it to ensure your choices are pointed in the direction of differentiation, as opposed to more of the same—whether you use it in your own client work, or for your own brand.

You'll learn all the ins and outs of creating your document, including:

  • How to create your competitor list.
  • How to gather relevant content to compare, contrast and analyze.
  • How to analyze competitor brands by identifying patterns and drawing conclusions.
  • How to uncover opportunities in what you see.
  • How to wrap up all of your conclusions in an easily digestible document.

And since you'll be focusing more on concepts, as opposed to particular design techniques, this class is simple enough for anyone to jump right into. No experience required.


This class is part of an ongoing series! Check out the other classes that have been published so far:

  1. Ask the Right Questions
  2. Write an Airtight Creative Brief
  3. Create a Compelling Mood Board

More are coming soon. Follow Courtney to be notified right when new classes launch.


You can find more from Courtney at En Route Workshop and on Instagram.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Courtney Eliseo

Brand Clarity & Design


Hello! I'm Courtney Eliseo, a new-ish mom, East Coaster living in the PNW, and the founder of En Route Workshop, where I help service-based businesses connect with more ideal clients through brand clarity and design.

A Bit About Me

Most mornings you can find me on the yoga mat, and most evenings you can find me curled up on the couch with a glass of wine. But as often as possible, I am off exploring somewhere new, breathing in ocean air, and soaking up every bit of the world around me. I have a deep-rooted desire to make things, a boundless sense of curiosity, and love losing myself in stories.

When it comes to design, my goal is to make work that is thoughtful, timeless, and most importantly, authentically aligned with who you are, your plans for the future... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Intro: Hi, I'm Courtney Eliseo and I'm a brand strategist and designer currently based in Seattle, Washington. With my company EN Route workshop, I help small businesses of all kinds bring their brands to life. For this class, I'm going to take you through a process that will help you to create a brand that stands out from the crowd. Now, what I'm not going to give you is an innovative approach to logo design or a series of creative brainstorming exercises, or any kind of magical system to make the next greatest logo of all time. But what I am going to give you is a super-simple process that will help you to analyze your clients' competition in a way that will ensure the brand you create does not follow the pattern of what everyone else is doing. It's a piece of the process I've used with my own clients for over ten years and it always works. This is all driven by the creation of what I call a competitive analysis, which is exactly what I'm going to take you through in the next five lessons. By the time we finish up, you'll have an understanding of how to create your competitor lists, how to gather relevant content to compare, contrast and analyze, how to analyze competitor brands by identifying patterns and drawing conclusions, how to uncover opportunities in what you see, how to wrap up all of your research and conclusions into an easily digestible document and how to build this step into the overall process and presentation. This class is easy for anyone to jump into, no experience required. Then I'll be speaking to you from the perspective of a designer who creates brands for her clients. These lessons can definitely apply to anyone who's working on a brand. Whether you're a designer yourself, or someone who's building a brand for your own company. Overall, taking the time to analyze your clients' competition in a way that is both process-driven and intuitive will get you one step closer to a brand that has its own unique place in the competitive landscape. That's exactly what we'll do in this class. Next up, I'll see you in lesson one. 2. Competitive Analysis Overview: Welcome to Lesson 1, Competitive Analysis Overview. In this lesson, we're going to focus on the ins and outs of the competitive analysis document. So that you have a clear understanding of what it is, how it works, and where it fits into the design process. We'll take a look at the problem this document addresses, the solution it provides, and the impact of the results. Let's start with the problem. When you're developing a new brand, one of the challenges is determining its place in the competitive landscape. You need to first define where your brand fits in. Then once you know what that looks like, you need to determine how you can set yourself apart. It's essential to determine who your clients competition is, and how they stack up in order to design a brand that helps them stand out. That holds true whether you're a solo freelancer, or working within a huge agency. Whether you are designing for a tiny company of one, or a larger company of 1000. That's where the competitive analysis comes in. What's evolved over the years through my brand and work for small businesses, is a process that is simple but effective, for both designer and client. The center of that process is the competitive analysis, which is essentially a visual tool that helps us to get a clear picture of the current competitive landscape. So that we can make informed decisions as we move forward. The exact format that take shape varies from project to project. But for the most part, what it looks like is a series of visual layouts, that compares and contrasts what the competition is doing. Each of the layouts typically break out one detail such as color or type style, and paint a picture of how all of those details show up, within that particular competitive landscape. That comparison facilitates drawing conclusions that will direct the next steps in the process. I should note that this process is definitely more intuitive than it is scientific, despite the way the name might sound. But in my experience, what I am going to share with you is all that you need to do, to give yourself a leg up in the process. Overall, this document is going to allow us to compare and contrast our competitors brands, identify patterns that show up prominently that we may want to avoid, and uncover opportunities for a space we could fill. This isn't something you would ever really see in the wild. You may know certain brands really well, but it's rare that you're going to see a handful of brands displayed alongside each other in this way. By taking the time to physically line there visuals up to analyze them, it makes it much easier to recognize the patterns that are showing up. In the end, what you'll have is a document to share with your client, that visually illustrates what the competition is doing, and points out what they can do differently. As to how this fits in with the rest of the design process. Generally, I present the competitive analysis results, as part of a larger brand strategy presentation and not as a standalone document. That way the client gets a comprehensive picture of the strategy that I recommend all at once. Typically, this includes a few things an audience profile, some messaging recommendations, the tone for the brand, and then competition. The brand strategy directly informs the design. As soon as the strategy is presented and approved by the client, we move on to design. This may not be true for you. You may do more frequent presentations that include more limited and focused content and that's totally fine. It's up to you whether you fold this piece into a bigger presentation, or share it on its own. Let's talk about the benefits of including something like this in your process. First, clarity of vision. The information you'll take away from this process will allow you to clearly see what's already being done. Which will directly inform the direction your design should take. Even at this early point in the process, the end result will already start to take shape. Second, it also facilitates the gradual process of client buy-in. Which is exactly why I conduct my whole design process in this way. When there's a clear and thoughtful process in place, that the client can both witness and participate in. It means you're essentially asking them to buy in at every stage. Which is helpful because if you let them in on these more incremental steps. Rather than just doing the research on your own and presenting the end results, it will really help them to understand the why behind your choices. It will help to ensure that the stage's fully set. By the time you get to presenting your design concepts, they will have seen exactly what it took to get there. It's not a guarantee that they'll absolutely love your work, of course. But I've definitely found that this more collaborative approach, leads to much better results. Lastly, and most importantly, if used intentionally, the competitive analysis will ensure that you're not doing what everyone else is doing. Now, that doesn't mean the brand you create for them needs to be something revolutionary, but it will empower you to make choices that propel your client towards differentiation, as opposed to more of the same. When you've completed this course, you'll create your own competitive analysis by following the steps that I've outlined. You can use your own client project in this exercise. Or if you don't have a project that'll work right now, you can use one of the simple clients I've provided, in the resources for this course. I'm actually going to use one of those sample clients myself, as I take you through the steps. Let me introduce them to you. Ballard, Floral and Event Design is a small floral shop specializing in creative floral design for weddings and events. They have about 5 to 10 employees, and they're located in Seattle, Washington. You'll see this client show up throughout the lessons as I apply the process, to a competitive analysis made specifically for them. Then in the next few lessons I'm going to take you through the exact process I follow with my own clients from gathering content, straight through to presenting your findings. We're going to cover research and content gathering, analyzing your content, visualizing your findings, and then presentation. In the end you'll have a clear grasp on the basics, so that you can take this approach directly into your own process. Whether you follow the formula exactly, or just certain parts to make it your own. Next up, we'll go over the research and content gathering process. See you in Lesson 2. 3. The Research Process: Welcome to Lesson 2. In this lesson, we're going to focus on the research process, both when it comes to competitors, and to content. First things first, there is one thing you need to have before you begin, a list of competitors that you want to analyze. You may already have a list in hand, but in case you don't, I'm going to provide you with some tips to help you pull one together. Before we talk tactics, let's go over what qualifies someone as a competitor. One thing I'd like to clarify up front because I'm going to be using the word competition a lot in this class, is that the word competition does not need to equal people or companies that steal business from you. For our purposes, the goal is not to position anyone is better or worse than the other. This is about finding your own unique place in the market. In order to do that, you need to have a clear picture of what that current landscape looks like, regardless of who's making more money, or who has more Instagram followers, that's just not what's important right now. Now that that's out of the way, here are some ideas for what to look for. You want to look for companies that are in a similar industry, that might offer a similar product or service, that are located somewhere close by, that are of a similar size, and then have a similar target audience. Or a slightly different way to look at it is, you can think about people whose work or mission you admire, people who you consider your peers, or people at a level of success that you aspire to. All of these things can be considered competition for the purposes of our project. Now that you understand what we're looking for, you have two main options for finding the answers. First, you can ask your client directly. This is the best place to start. I have got a whole class about asking the right questions, which I've linked below. If you haven't checked that out, I recommend that as a starting point. But your best bet at working from a place that'll provide helpful results is to utilize your client's knowledge. If for some reason none of that works, or if you need to supplement your clients list because you don't have enough content to work with, you'll just need to do your own research. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you find yourself in this situation. You want to search wherever the client's industry dictates. In general, this is always going to mean Google, Facebook groups, Instagram, any general social network is always going to be a great starting point. But your client may also have a particular niche that dictates a different resource. Maybe for example, their industry is particularly active on LinkedIn, and so you want to use that as a resource. One thing to ask is to find out where they advertise and where they network, so that you can make sure that the research you're doing to put the list together is going to be relevant and thorough. In terms of what to search for, that's going to depend on your specific situation, but in general, starting with keywords that speak to the company's industry and their audience they serve, or a location if they are a local business will get you going. Again, this whole process is more intuitive than scientific, so you really should experiment and see what works best in your particular situation. As you search, here's a few tips for making the most out of the process. Find a minimum of five competitors for your list. The size of your list is going to depend on what you find, but if you have less than five companies to work with, chances are you won't have enough information to draw any meaningful conclusions. A better number is to aim for 10-20. A larger list is going to make it easier for you to identify patterns within your findings, for example, it's more likely a pattern of a certain color or a certain style of type is going to emerge when you can analyze a pool of 20 competitor brands rather than a group of five. But while quantity does matter in the situation because we need enough examples for our comparisons to tell us something significant, we want to make sure that the examples you work with are actual competitors, so you may need to get a little creative. For example, you might not get much value out of comparing your local bait and tackle shops brands with that of Walmart's, even though some of their products overlap. But you might get more value out of comparing them with a brand of locally made fishing lures, because more than likely there's an audience overlap in who they serve. The bait and tackle shop and the fishing lure brand are not the exact same type of business, but they have enough in common that it makes sense to include them in your list. You just have to use your judgment to decide what's most relevant. Let's look at the competitor list I put together for our sample client, ballard or floral, and event design. There's 18 competitors on the list, and these range from hyper-local competitors who are in the same neighborhood, to local competitors who are still within the same area, but not the immediate vicinity. Then also there's some aspirational competitors that have large national followings in the mix. This is an example of a good amount of businesses to include in your list, and a good range of businesses that encompass varying facets of the landscape. You'll see how this applies to the work as we move forward onto the next steps. Once you put your list together, your next step is going to be to collect reference material that you can analyze. In all of the next steps to come, I'm going to show you some examples of how this might work, for both design and for messaging. Not all of my branding projects include a messaging component, but it comes up often enough that I'm going to share some of the basics. Let's talk about exactly what you want to look for, starting with design. For design, your main goal is to be able to compare and contrast your competitors primary brand elements. Those essential elements will provide us with some vital direction as to where your brand should go as it develops. In service of that, there are three elements we want to analyze no matter what, because they are some of the most basic building blocks for brands, color, type and imagery. In terms of what specific elements you collect, here are some things you might want to look for. First, the logo. This is the most essential piece because we can usually get a lot of information out of it. The logo will usually include visual cues for typography, color, and imagery, so there's a chance that just gathering your competitor logos will provide you with enough content to set up your competitive analysis document all on their own. But again, use your judgment. You may also want to gather some type snippets, find examples of color usage that you can sample, and maybe even screenshot their homepages. For messaging, this process is a little bit different, and then it's just not quite as straightforward. Your goal at this stage is not necessarily to uncover a business's core message, but you do want to look for any messaging that is front and center. Some things you might want to look out for are the tagline, a call to action, the point of view, a mission statement, or common words. With both design and messaging, there are lots of variables you can analyze within these categories. You'll just need to determine what makes sense for your particular project, what information is going to be the most helpful to you to get you from point A to point B. These are just a few ideas to get you started. The process for collecting visual reference material is super simple. It's the same as what you might do when you're putting together a mood board or doing any inspiration related research. The first thing you want to do is visit competitor sites. Once you have your list together, you can visit and click through your competitor sites and take as much of a deep dive is you need to in order to find the content that will help you the most. Then while you're there, you want to begin collecting references that will help you to illustrate the visual and messaging components of each competitor brand. At this stage, you just want to screenshot or download anything that could be useful for your document creation process. Then lastly, at the end of this process, you should have a big collection of assets and imagery that you can use to create your document. It's a good idea to take a little bit of time to organize everything you found so that when it's time to start putting your document together, you're ready to go. How you organize the information is completely up to you and how you work best. But I generally suggest creating some folder structure that you can easily access, and that allows you to categorize your content in some way. Before we move on, I just want to provide a couple of tool recommendations for you. The first one is Sip, which I use for color sampling. I use this all the time for all different things, but it comes in especially handy in this process when we're sampling colors for comparing, and you'll see that a little bit more down the road. But this is a really good one. It has a free trial, but it is part of a subscription service. So you could just sign up for the free trial if you wanted to check it out for this project and not get hooked into the subscription. Another option for color sampling is ColorSnapper. This is also not a free app, but they do have a little bit of a longer trial and it's just a onetime fee. I think it's only $8.99 or so, so it's not crazy expensive, but this might be another good option for you. Then lastly, I wanted to show you WordArt. I know it looks a little bit crazy, but this is actually going to come in handy when we get a little bit more into messaging and analyzing the content that we found. This is a site that I use to analyze the language that's being used on a website. So you can just plug any website into it, and it'll create a word cloud based on what's there. As you can see, you can do all crazy shapes, and colors, and topography with it, but I keep things very simple. I'll show you how that works a little bit later too. The links to all of these apps are in the resources PDF, so you can check those out if you want to get started working on these now. That covers my basic steps and tips for the research and content gathering process. Next step, we're going to take a look at how to analyze what you found. See you in Lesson 3. 4. Analyze Your Content: Welcome to Lesson 3, analyze your content. In Lesson 2, we talked about what to look for as you gathered the content for your competitive analysis. In this lesson, I'm going to take you through how to analyze what you found. There are three main objectives we have within this process. First, you want to identify any patterns that show up within your research. Then you want to specify what conclusions you can draw based on those patterns. Then lastly, you want to identify any potential opportunities for exploration within the design process. Let's go through our sample client as an example and start to analyze the research that I've pulled together. Starting with identifying patterns. Before you start, you want to get all of your research laid out in front of you in some way. Whether you do this like I do, in an Illustrator document, or on a Pinterest board, or even laid out in front of you on your desk. You just want to start by taking a big picture, look at what you've collected, which is why my starting point is always the logo. I typically start by just dumping all of the logo files I've collected into one Illustrator document like you can see here. Keep in mind Illustrator is just what works best for me because I'm most comfortable there, but you can use whatever app works for you. Don't feel like you need to stick with Illustrator. Once you can see all the logos in one place, patterns are just naturally going to start to emerge. But you can also kick off analysis process by asking yourself, what similarities and differences do you see? Then you just want to start making notes of anything that comes up. When it comes to design, here are a few more prompts that might help you start to recognize some things that you're seeing. Are the brand logos typographic? Do they include any imagery? Is the business name contained in a shape? What are the primary colors? What style of type is used? Do the brands incorporate more than one typeface? You really just want to start asking yourself all of these questions about the visuals that you're seeing in front of you, so that you can start to figure out what patterns are showing up, within the set of research that you've pulled together. The key to this step is just to be as observant as possible and to make note of anything you think could be important. Let's look at a couple of examples of what I found with our sample client. We're starting again with this logo layout, and then I'm just trying to look at what patterns are showing up. The first thing I noticed is that a lot of the logos incorporate some natural imagery, whether that's a twig, or a leaf, or a flower. A lot of the logos incorporate illustration, and when they do, it is some natural imagery, so that's something I'm going to make note of. There are six out of about 18 logos that fall into this category, so it is far from representative of every single brand, but it's significant enough of a percentage that I think it makes sense to note. Let's look at another example. Back to our logo layout again. Another thing I noticed is that a bunch of the brands have warm color palettes, or at least incorporate a warm color as a prominent color in their palette. Again you'll see this isn't all of the brands, but about seven brands out of 18 incorporate some warm colors into their palette, and I think that's significant to note at this point as a pattern because it's definitely something that can help us out later on. When it comes to messaging you can follow the same type of process. Here's some questions to get you started thinking in that way. First, does the business use a tagline? This is one thing that will generally be easy to find, so it's a good place to start because most likely if someone is using a tagline, it's going to be right on their homepage for you to grab. What type of tone does the tagline express? Is it straightforward? More creative? Is it conversational? What are some common words that are used within their website? Is the copy written directly to address the consumer? Does the brand have a mission statement? These are just a few things to get you started. There's a ton of different options here, and again you can just customize to whatever you think your project is going to need. But these are a few directions that you can take if you're not quite sure how to get going. Let's look at our sample client again. One of the things I focused on with a sample client is common words. I went ahead and took a few of the competitor sites that I found, and created word art for those sites. Let me just show you quickly how that works. We're going to start by clicking on create, and then you get this whole screen here. There's a ton of different things you can do with this, but I'm just going to show you for our purposes how I would use it. Since we're analyzing a website, we're going to click over here on the left-hand side on import. Then we want to make sure we're on the web tab, and then I already have the URL we're going to use on my clipboard, so I'm going to copy that in. I leave all these default the same, but you can play around with that if you'd like, and then we'll hit import words. Then this is just going to take a minute to analyze the site. Then you'll see over here on the left-hand side you get an actual table of all the words that show up on the site. But we will actually want to have a visual representation of it, because it'll be a little bit easier to present that information, and a little bit easier for us to work with. We're going to then click visualize, and as you can see the picture it gave me is a little crazy. I definitely don't want it to look this busy. Now I'm going to edit it. I'm going to click over into edit so that it's not animating, because we don't really need that since we're just using this in a flat version. Over here on the left-hand side, there's all these styling options. The first thing I'm going to do is change the colors. If we go into the words colors here, clicking on these colors removes them, and then I really just want everything to be black. I'm going to leave this hex value at black, and then hit close, and then we have everything black. Now, I also don't like this font, so I want to change that out. I'm going to go back to the left-hand side, click on fonts, and then you have limited options in here, but there are some Google fonts. I'm going to scroll down here and just go to Roboto, because that's nice and clean, and then I select that and then I click visualize. There we go. Now we have this pretty simple cloud shape. You can change the shape to a zillion different things but, again I like to keep it pretty simple, so I'm sticking with the cloud. Just to reiterate how this is working, is it's analyzing all the words, so the words that are bigger are used more often on the site, which is exactly what we want to be paying attention to for our purposes. I actually ended up running a few of the sites for the word art I generated, so that we can compare their word usage and find some patterns about common words. I'm going to show you a couple of the things that I pulled out. First, I noticed that there's a lot of location-based wording used, so this is particularly helpful for local businesses. How often are they talking about their location? Is location actually important to them? Or is the business independent of locations? I think this is just important to point out so that we get our bearings as far as what other people are doing. Then another thing that I pulled out really quickly is there's a ton of language that speaks directly toward their services, and for the most part people aren't getting super creative about it, it is very straight forward. Those are just a couple examples of some patterns I pulled out for design and messaging of our sample client. Let's move on to the next step. From there, you're going to draw specific conclusions that you can present to your client alongside of the visuals. What you want to ask yourself is, what do the patterns tell us about the competitive landscape? Make note of the pattern and then figure out what conclusion can we draw from there. For example, I noticed that a lot of Bella Floral's competitors utilized natural imagery and illustration. Conclusion we can draw is that all imagery in this competitive landscape, includes flowers or plants. Anytime you see imagery amongst this set of competitors, it involves flower or plants, there really isn't anything that deviates from that pattern. That is a very specific conclusion that we can draw. Then if we look back to the warm colors, another conclusion that we can draw is that most of the brands color palettes trend towards warm or neutral. The vast majority of the brands use palettes that are typically warm, there's not a lot that falls outside of that. An important thing to keep in mind at this stage is that, yes, you want to be able to show your client what's out there, but you also want to be able to then explain how this impacts their brand, which is why it's important to take these last couple of steps. Your client should be clear on the state of the landscape before you move into the design process. For the last step in the process, you want to take a look at all of the patterns you've identified and determine what opportunities they present. What space do the patterns reveal? Let me show you a couple of examples. If we go back to our natural imagery and illustration conclusion, what we want to think about is, what are some directions that we could take that will give us a little bit of a leg up, and help us to stand out? For our natural imagery and illustration example, we could come up with a ton of different things. But maybe one suggestion is that, we incorporate some conceptual imagery. Maybe we don't go with showing any natural imagery, not just because it's a little bit redundant as far as our business name goes, but because a lot of other people are already doing that, and doing something a little bit different, is going to hopefully help us to stand out. Then when it comes to the warm colors, this one is obviously a little bit more straightforward, but maybe that means we explore some bright colors, some bolder colors, or some cool colors. Since virtually all of the brands we're competing with, are doing the exact opposite. Using a color palette that falls into bright, bold, or cool is automatically going to give us a little bit of advantage just from a visual perspective. This last step is really important because it directly leads into the design that you're going to develop for your client. If in order to stand out from the competition, you determined that they should avoid the color red altogether, or write a friendly tagline, or incorporate photography into their brand. That all begins here. I've got one tool recommendation for you in this lesson, I have set up a Google spreadsheet that will help you to keep track of all of your work at this stage. If this is something, what this will allow you to do is just take notes as you go, so that you don't have to keep going back and forth from all your different apps. You can just use this document however you need to. A link to the spreadsheet is also in your resources PDF. That really covers the whole process of making sense of your research. Next up, I'm going to take you through the process of creating your document. See you in Lesson 4. 5. Creating Your Document: Welcome to Lesson 4, creating your document. At this point, you've got all your research in hand, so i'm going to take you through how I translate that into an actual document. That's mostly going to center around visualization and layout. What i'm thinking about when I put these layouts together is how can we show instead of tell? The goal is simply to translate your findings into charts and diagrams that make it super easy to see the patterns, conclusions, and opportunities you've uncovered. The first step is to just get your documents setup. You'll just need to choose what tools you're going to use and how the setup will work best for you. You can use whatever app you like. Illustrator, InDesign, Keynote, and Canva are all tools that I've used before and would work well. But it's completely up to you. I personally use a combination of Illustrator and Keynote for all of my presentations. One other thing to keep in mind is sizing. Since we're talking about a document you're going to present to someone, you do want to consider what sizing makes the most sense. This is probably going to depend just on who your client is and how you work together. But there's two common options. If they're most likely going to be viewing on screen, using a 16: 9 ratio is probably going to work totally fine. Which is exactly what this presentation that you're looking at now is set to. The other option, which I've done a lot of is using 8.5 by 11. If you know your clients are a bit more old school and they're going to want to print and share the document. A landscape 8.5 by 11 document is probably a better way to go. The other thing you want to think about before you start working on your visualization is that no matter what type of sizing and use, the structure should really tell the story of your findings so that it's super easy to understand the path from research to conclusions. You can create sections for your findings based on content type, which is what I'll show you in my example. But the pattern you should generally follow is findings, and then patterns, and then conclusions, and then opportunities. You want to show what you found, highlight the patterns to find the conclusions that can be drawn from them, and then make note of the opportunities. All of this opens up for their brand. The next thing you need to do, which is the bulk of this project, is to visualize your findings. Let's go back to our sample client to look at some examples of how to do this. Just as a reminder, a Ballard Floral and Event Design, they're small floral shop, five to ten employees, and they're based in Seattle. Starting with design, we have a logo layout. I always include this in the actual presentation as well, because as I've mentioned before, most of the time, your client has never done anything like this and they've never seen the other brands in the landscape compared visually in this way, so I think it's just a good thing to start with. Most of the time when i'm working on this piece of a brand strategy project, there's usually at least a few things i'm pulling out with the logos themselves. I want to show you a couple examples of that using our sample client. The first thing I pulled out is that, a lot of the logos in this are purely typographic. As you can see, there's 11 out of 16, so that's definitely a pretty big majority. It's enough of a clear pattern that we definitely want to point that out. Another group of logos I'm breaking out is the Illustrative logos. This is a little bit different than what we looked at earlier with the nature imagery because i'm also including the Juniper flowers logo here. Even though it's likely that the intention behind the graphics in the Juniper flowers logo is meant to allude to some natural imagery, it is still abstract, so it doesn't quite fall into the category of natural imagery. I chose to make the category a little bit more broad in this case, just so that we can encompass this entire group. Then one thing I always like to do is analyze the type styles in some way. I use the logos again because as I've mentioned before, you can just pull a ton of information out of the logos. What I did here just create like a very basic chart that pulls out the primary typeface that each of the brands are using, and then I ordered them from top to bottom, from the most prominent type style used to the least. Serif is definitely the most prominent type style, followed by Sans Serif and then Script and Display. This is just another way to break out more of the details and to both help you in your design direction and to show the client what is really common in the landscape and what space we have to do something different. Another layout that I always include is the color story. i'm just going to show you really quickly how I use sip to make a layout like this. In my Illustrator document, as you can see, I have my logo layout here that you've seen a bunch before, and then what I do is usually set up a grid of boxes that I can then fill in with color. I'll take my logo collage and then one by one, I'll just sample the primary colors in each logo and fill them into the box, simplest up here in my menu bar. When I went to sample something and just click on the little icon, hit this little target icon up here in the top left. That pulls up this little viewer. Now I just roll over the logo that I want to sample. Click. This is giving me the hex value and it's already copied to the clipboard. I can access the color palette just by copying and pasting, or I can go back up to the menu like you see here and it has the color right up at the top for me. What I'll do then is click on one of the boxes, go over to my color palette, and then just paste the hex value, hit "Enter", and then we've got that color. I'll just keep going through. I'll show you a couple more. I'll just keep going through until I have the entire grid filled out with colors that represent the logo collage that I have here. At the end, I'll just remove the black outlines so that that's not distracting from anything. That's it. That's how you get to this color story, which I always think is extremely helpful tool for both you and for the client. Now, let's take a look at what I put together for messaging, for a Ballard Floral. One of the first things I did was pick out the taglines, the group of competitors that I analyzed and only four of them actually use taglines. I just made a very quick chart so that you could see them all in one place, get a sense of what style they incorporate and how they're approaching their tagline in general. As I mentioned, I like to focus on common language. I think that tells us a lot, especially if someone is starting a brand from scratch and they have to write all of their website copy, it will help provide a little bit of a direction for that. What I chose to do here is focus just on those four brands that incorporate taglines to make this a little bit simpler to digest. I created a layout to just show the logo right next to their word cloud so that the client can see this is the brand that we're referring to and this is what their website translates to. The last step in getting your document together is that you want to define the patterns, conclusions, and opportunities. Once you have all of your visuals together, you want to make sure that you're really clearly outlining these three things. I always include the actual text within the presentation, because more often than not, the client is going to take the document with them to review before I get feedback. Even though I talk through everything during the presentation, I want all of the information to be as clear as possible when they don't have me there to explain it. Let's look at what I pulled together for Ballard Floral. Just a quick jump back to the logos to give us a little bit of context. The first thing i'm clarifying is, what are the design patterns I found. The first is that there's a clear pattern of Earth Tones and Neutrals on the color palettes. There's another clear pattern where the brands use Simple Typographic logos. A lot of the brands also use Organic Flourishes in their logos. A lot of the brands are sticking with Traditional Serif Typography. As far as conclusions I haven't drawn from that, what I came to is the overarching brands trend towards neutral. The conclusions are really more broad strokes, so you found all these patterns. How do we actually take that information and use it to our advantage? This first one is really signifying the fact that most of the brands are neutral in all different ways. All of the imagery that we've seen includes flowers or plans of some kind, and that includes both illustrations within the logos and photography on the competitor websites. The colors overall trend towards warm or neutral palettes, and then the brands always showcase the floral design. As I was saying above, one thing I can take from reviewing all of these brands is that the actual floral design, the services and products that they offer at the start of the show and they're doing that in all different ways and there is really no way for us to know how intentional that is. But it is something that makes sense to point out because it's something that we want to think about is we start to make design choices for our brand. The last piece of the puzzle is the opportunities. What does all of this show us in terms of different directions we could take to give ourselves an advantage and stand out a little bit from the competitive landscape that we're operating within. First is cool or bright colors. This is something I already mentioned, but if you went in the total opposite direction, you're automatically going to stand out a little bit. Including some conceptual imagery is also a possibility. Most of the competitor websites used photography that was just meant to sell floral arrangements, so they're photography is very straightforward as opposed to photography or imagery that sells a lifestyle or an emotion. That might be something that you want to bring into the brand. One thing that I noticed was missing from this set of brands is pattern and texture. This is just another opportunity of something slightly different that we could explore that we know not everyone else is doing. The last suggestion is the incorporation of more complex typography. For the most part, the topography in a lot of these brands is very minimal and maybe not carefully considered as a prominent piece of the brands, so this presents an opportunity to develop more of a complex typographic system, a logo that includes maybe more than one typeface, or more detailed typography. The idea for the design opportunities is not necessarily to provide directives, to say this is definitely what we should do, is just to provide avenues or paths that we could potentially take. You want to set the process up to [inaudible] some direction for exploration and you also want to make sure that the client is on the same page and they essentially know where you're going. Now that we've gone through a bunch of examples for our sample client, I want to give you a few tips to keep in mind as you start your own project. First, you want to make sure you're customizing to your client always. You definitely want to cover the basics of color type in imagery, but then you want to modify the layouts and the content you include, based on your specific client and what you've uncovered throughout the process. Next, if there's anywhere to get creative when it comes to the competitive analysis, it's at this stage when you're visualizing your findings. I usually present super straightforward layouts, but you can totally feel free to come up with anything that feels appropriate to showcase what you found. As long as the message is clear, there're really not any rules as to how exactly you present your work. Lastly, you want to make sure that you show and tell in a progression that leads your client can the process. Doing so will directly lead into the next steps, which means that the whole process will unfold more organically and generally lead to much better outcomes. At this point, your document is just about complete. In the last lesson, i'm going to show you what my presentation looks like for both this and a few other clients and give you a couple of other tips for sharing the work. See you in Lesson 5. 6. Presentation: Welcome to lesson 5, presentation. At this point you've done all of your research, you've gathered all your content, you've identified all of the patterns and opportunities that have come up as a result, and you've put it all into a document that outlines everything clearly and comprehensively. Your next and final step is to present the document to your clients so that you can continue on in the design process. I know presenting to a client can be stressful. It can feel really nerve wracking to put yourself out there and open your work up to criticism. But the good news is that, taking steps like this can make the whole process feel much less stressful. If you follow the steps that I've shown you, your presentation will help you to lead your client through all of your work in a logical way, and the document itself will do a lot of the work for you. To finish this all up, I'm going to take you through the presentation layouts I put together for our sample client, Ballard Floral, and then I'll show you a few more examples from the real world by taking you quickly through a few snippets from my client presentations so that you can see how they might vary from project to project. Again, keep in mind that I'm usually showing this work within a larger brand strategy presentation, so you're not seeing a start to finish presentation, but you're seeing exact layouts that I would show. So let's start with our simple client. I always start up strategy presentation with some background information. So I wanted to just bring us back to the beginning here and give you this simple slide for our client one more time. So let's start with design. First, we start with the logo collage, and then we move into the categorized logo patterns starting with typographic logos, and then the illustrative logos, and then I move into the type style layout. Then the color story, and then I start to outline the actual patterns. As I said, I always include the text in the presentation. So what I'll do is upfront, show all the visuals, and I'll be talking through all of this stuff as I go. But then once we get through the visuals, I break out the important points in some bullet forms. This is pretty much exactly how I would lay it out, but you can do this however you want. I just want to give little snippets of information that will help the client to remember exactly what I told them. We have our design patterns followed by the design conclusions treated in exactly the same way, and then the design opportunities also treated in the exact same way. So that's generally the pattern that I am going to use in a presentation like this. It's show and then tell. Then for messaging, we started with the taglines, which also allowed me to set up that there are four companies that I'm going to focus on. Then one by one, I did a common language layout for each of those four brands, starting with Ballard Blossom, and then Sweetly Hosted, Juniper Flowers, and Studio 3 Floral & Styling. Then I followed that up with a couple of layouts where we're just looking at the word clouds minus the actual logos with the brands and highlighting these common words. There's a million ways you could do this, but this is just a super simple way that highlights this pattern very clearly to somebody that's looking at it for the first time. Then I follow that up with the other pattern I mentioned. Then we again go through the same type of layout, show and then tell. So we have our messaging patterns bulleted out and since I didn't show you this before, I'll talk through a little bit. The patterns that I shared was that there's lack of a tagline. So even though I'm showing four companies with a tagline, four out of 16, tells me that most businesses are not using that. Another pattern is the location-based word usage, which I talked through a little bit before, and then also the usage of floral flowers, florist in their language. Those are extremely common. Then also functional language, so service-based language, language about using their products and services, those things seem to dominate. Some conclusions I was able to draw is that there's no distinct voice. So for the most part, the brands are neutral when it comes to messaging as well. There isn't a whole lot of personality and their copyrighting, which brings me to the next point. Then the last point is that most of the content is service-based and utilitarian. So there isn't a whole lot of storytelling present in the messaging. There are a ton of opportunities, but again, I'm keeping them pretty simple here. One is to add a tagline, another is to inject more personality. So this obviously can be taken in a zillion different directions but the idea is that because most of these brands are neutral, if you add some more personality to your brand, if you inject more storytelling, if you talk about who you are as a company, who you are, who the owners are, what their story is, there's so much room for a brand like that in the space that it is definitely a direction to consider exploring. Another opportunity I've found is to speak to their style. One thing that stood out to me is that, most of the brands speak in a very straightforward way about who they are and what they do. They're focusing on what their services are and how they can help you, but not really personalizing that in any way. So I think there's a lot of room to bring in more language that speaks directly to the tone or style of flowers and events that they specialize in. Lastly one opportunity I wanted to note is that adding a layer to the brand where the tone is defined and it is applied to both the design and the messaging side of things can go along way. It's going to create a more cohesive brand, which will always provide a better experience to the consumer. This piece wraps up exactly what I would show for our Ballard Floral example if they were a client of mine. Now let me just take you through a couple more examples from clients that I've worked on in the past. These are representative of just small snippets of brand strategy presentation. So you're not going to see complete presentations. But I wanted to point out how the layouts and what I include could potentially look a little bit different depending on who the client is, what the project is, and how the process unfolds. First, let's look at ChimeOn who is a podcasting app. I always start with a logo collage so you can see what else is out there. So here you're seeing a collage of all sorts of digital apps where you can play podcasts. Then the color story again, is always an important piece of the puzzle, so this sampled colors directly from the previous screens. Then for this one we kept it pretty short and sweet. So I came up with a few design patterns, I noticed. One is that, the brand elements were pretty neutral for the most part. You're looking at brands that consist of a lot of black and white, and then they all use very bright accent colors and most of them use bold Sans Serif typography. So there were a lot of commonalities in the design that was being used. Then for messaging for this project, again, I started with taglines here and coincidentally, this landscape also only had a couple of taglines that we could really pull out. So we did pretty much what I did with our sample client, which is pull out the brands that do use taglines and highlight what they are so we could see them all in one place. Then the next thing I pulled out was common language. So in this case, the language was much more marketing driven. So I just pulled out the fact that we were seeing a lot of people describing their apps using the words easy, powerful, and simple. So I wanted to point those things out so that when we're writing for this brand, we want to make sure to incorporate some different words and then maybe just avoid these words being too prominent so that we are giving ourselves a little bit of an advantage. Then I came up with a set of conclusions that apply to both design and messaging. First in terms of design, all the brands feel slick, techie, and modern. Most of the brands lack personality and take some sort of a neutral stance. So there isn't a whole lot of emotion involved in the brands that they're presenting. They definitely lack warmth. In terms of messaging, they often speak directly about the app itself, and then they rarely speak directly to the audience. So these are all things that we could take with us into the next stages of design to give us some guidance. The next couple of examples are even simpler. Let's look at Element Seafood first. So here again, I'm starting with the logo collage so that we can see all of the competitors in one place. Then that translates into the color story, and then I also analyze the type styles here. The categories can just be driven by exactly what you're looking for in front of you. Don't feel like you need to follow this pattern in anyway. Then that's it for that one, very simple. Then Herb 'n Zest is a different type of project because it was a brand project, but it also involved packaging. For Herb 'n Zest, the first thing I did is rather than layout the logos, I actually laid out some photographs of packaging. Because especially with packaging, we're not really going to be looking at the logo separate from all these other packaging elements, both in terms of the labeling, and the product itself, and the jars. I thought that we would be able to draw a lot more information from looking at something this way. So I started here and then again, just moved into the color story. It really just took a little bit of sampling to get from here to here. But I don't know that without going through that process, I would have ever gathered from the previous image collage that this was the color palette. So it's just a really good exercise to do. Then, because this project didn't involve messaging and we were doing packaging alongside of it, these are really the only two elements that I included. Those seeing all of those examples should give you an idea of the different ways that content could take shape. Now as you start to work on your own document, here are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind. First, you want to make sure you're connecting the dots. Keep in mind that it's likely your client may have never seen a presentation like this before. Most of the time that's a really good thing. It can be an eye-opening experience to get a glimpse into the competitive landscape in this way. But at the same time, that also means you want to make sure your findings and your document as a whole are as clear as humanly possible. The level of clarity you achieve in your document is going to have a direct impact on how well this step informs and solidifies the next steps in the process. Next, you want to emphasize the end goal. Make sure your client understands that the purpose of this document is to take a good look at what everyone else is doing to ensure that you choose a path that helps you to stand out. It's not uncommon to have a client see something a competitor is doing and then go to a designer to say, "I want something like that." But this process can be a really good way to help you avoid that issue entirely. So it's really good to have in mind. That way if a question or a request like that does arise, you can address it quickly and bring the focus back to the specific goal you're working towards. Lastly, let's just quickly recap the steps you're going to take for your class project. As you create your own competitive analysis, you'll choose a client, then you'll make your competitor list. You'll gather your content, you'll create your document, and then you'll share your work. With that we've covered my entire process for creating a competitive analysis. I'm really looking forward to seeing how your project shape up, so be sure to share your final documents in the class and let me know if any questions come up as you work. As a quick reminder, you can create your document using a client of your own or any of the sample projects that I've provided. Just check the options I've included in the resources PDF, or feel free to come up with your own. Thanks so much for joining me.