Pitching Brand Concepts - Build Trust & Move Projects Forward | Malin Lernhammar | Skillshare

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Pitching Brand Concepts - Build Trust & Move Projects Forward

teacher avatar Malin Lernhammar, Co-founder at Kayla

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

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.

      Before You Start


    • 3.

      Getting Good Feedback


    • 4.

      Presentation Formats


    • 5.

      What Sections to Include


    • 6.

      Finding Mockups


    • 7.

      Explaining Your Work


    • 8.

      Avoiding Revisions


    • 9.

      If You Miss the Mark


    • 10.

      Wrapping Up the Meeting


    • 11.

      Thank You & Class Project


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About This Class

Knowing how to talk about your work can feel tricky, but even the best concept might not get picked if clients can't see your vision for the brand. 

Over the last 8 years, I have refined and tested out my concept presentation with over 50 clients and found ways to make it more clear, compelling and engaging. 

In this class, I will share everything from how to prepare for a meeting and what to include in your presentation to dealing with feedback and push back. 

I hope this class will help you feel more confident presenting work to clients and that it helps you get more projects that you feel passionate about as a result. 

If you have any questions or thoughts as you watch the class or create your project, don't hesitate to ask in the discussions section and I will help you out! 

I can't wait to see what you create

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Malin Lernhammar

Co-founder at Kayla


Hi! My name name is Malin and I have been running my branding agency since 2015. I specialise in helping sustainable businesses build brands with impact but I also love helping other creatives learn how to run projects of their own. 

I create classes on how to build a creative business that works for you, from practical skills on packaging and branding to managing clients and getting more repeat work. 

I can't wait to see what you create in the class projects and I'm here if you have any questions or want support in your creative business. See you in class! 

If you like to see more from me between my classes, I also create weekly Youtube videos. 

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Class Intro: Hi. Welcome to the Skillshare course all about how to present your brand concepts to clients. My name is Marlene and I worked as a brand designer for the last eight years. Presenting your work is maybe even more important than the actual quality of your work. Because it's what's going to help your clients take on this new concept and implement it and embrace it into their business. Even if we have an amazing concept, if we can't explain it to our clients, we might have to make lots of iterations and do a lot of work that takes away from the concept itself. This class is for any designer who is working with branding and would like to build a bit more trust with their clients and make sure that their hard work is showing off. I will show you how to create a beautiful pitch deck to show your different concepts, how to explain those concepts to your client, and how to ask really good questions and meet any feedback that you get to make sure that the end result is as good as it can be. The goal is to show the value of the work that you've created but also to make sure that there's a clear path moving forward after the meeting to a finished brand. I will be showing my own presentation templates and your class project for this class is to create your very own template. This is something that will save you tons of time in your business because you can reuse it for every project and it will also help you get more comfortable with the whole branding process in general. I hope that watching this class will help make you a more confident and happy designer that enjoys pitching work to clients instead of seeing it as something intimidating or tricky. I can't wait to see what you create in your class projects. I really look forward to seeing you in the class, so I'll see you in the next chapter. 2. Before You Start: Making sure that you have a really successful presentation with your client actually starts way before you actually show them any work. This is where we want to make sure we have the right circumstances for this meeting. The first thing that I think is really important is to make sure you and your client have enough time for this meeting. A lot of times when you're presenting brand work, you're meeting with the CEOs or the head of marketing and things like that, and that means that they have really busy schedules, so when you're sending them a meeting invite, you make sure to put the allocated time that you think would be appropriate. For me, it's usually at least two hours. Sometimes it doesn't take that long, but it's just to make sure you have time for discussions and you don't feel like you have to rush through any stages of pitching the work. Another super important part of how you present the work is actually the medium that you do it in. I say, always do it live. Now, that doesn't have to be in person, but I would really stay away from, let's say, sending an email with a PDF that your client will look through in their own time. Because it's really difficult to explain your reasoning, your concepts, and really have your client look at things from the perspective of your expertise. You can either, let's say, meet in person and present on your computer in front of them where you can control the flow of the slides, or you can say share your screen and guide them through the presentation that way. It might seem like that takes more time, but it really will save you so much work on iterations and updating concepts in the end. Before you start showing the work you also want to make sure that you are setting expectations for what they will experience in this meeting. People are usually really excited to see the work and that's great and we won't take too long on this part. But basically what we want to do is to explain, "Okay, today we're going to look at concepts." A concept is not the finished work, it's showing the direction of the work that we think would be appropriate. We're going to be showing you three different concepts, for example, or I'm going to show you one concept. Just set expectations of what they can expect in this meeting. I think it can also be a good idea to bring up what type of deliverables that you're going to be showing, so explaining that you're going to show the logo and logo applications, you're going to show how it works on their social media and how it's going to work with colors and type for example. We'll look at all of those different sections together in one of the later chapters. But stating this to your client before you get into it is a way for them to set expectations of what they're going to see, to see the breadth of the brand; that they're not just expecting to see a logo and then they'll give feedback. At the same time, you can also restate the goals of the project. Maybe it was to reach a new audience or to maybe be a little bit more clear in their messaging, so this is something that you always want to have as a measuring stick when you're presenting your work, that you can refer back to make sure that the designs you're presenting, are fulfilling that brief. You can also choose if you like to show a little bit about your process. I personally don't really like to share, let's say logo sketches that I didn't pick because I feel like showing those options to clients when you can't sit down and give them all the information about why those specific ideas didn't work, it opens you up to the possibility of them pointing to one and saying, I really like that one. What I'd like to do instead is to take them through the process of, we have discovery, and then we did research and we came to the conclusion that our customers really will like this, and so that's what we have taken into the concepts when we're designing. That's a way to show your process, and the whole goal here is to build trust and show your expertise and that we're not pulling something from the air that is just going to look good, but won't be effective. When our clients understand our process and how we come to different conclusions, it takes away a lot of that difference in how we see work. As designers, we see something as a strategic well-fitting designed for that specific company. But when people who are not used to that design process look at design, it can often be easy to say, "Well I don't like that color, or I don't like that logo." It's difficult to separate yourself. When you have this reasoning and you show your process a little bit this way, we can help make that process a little bit easier when your clients give feedback. 3. Getting Good Feedback: [MUSIC] Giving good feedback is really not that easy, and maybe you've been a creative for a long time and you can start to find ways to make feedback very helpful and constructive. But most people, when they give feedback on design, which is something they probably don't do every day, it becomes very difficult, which is why we get a lot of these, make it pop or make it more designy, which is what we want to avoid because it's not very helpful or detailed. I think the best way to get really good feedback is to ask specifically for the type of feedback that you want. When I'm pitching different design concepts, I always tell my clients we're going to be going through the concepts and we can either have feedback at the end of each concept. If you feel very strongly that you have a thought that you would like to bring up. Or ideally, we can have the concept feedback at the very end after we've seen all the different concepts. Because sometimes it's very clear that one concept doesn't fit and we can take that one out of the race and discuss the other two. But that's difficult before you've seen all the work. I think, especially important is to not let your client give feedback after every single image that you share. Not only does it take really long, but it's also very difficult to judge. Like how is this logo going to work when you've only seen a logo in black and white and you haven't seen all the other applications. I think it's a good idea to tell your client ahead of time, just this is how I would like to feed back. This is how it's most useful to me to make sure I can take it in and give you the best experience. I also really like to give my clients some parameters to look at something and know how to judge it. For example, I always have a slide talking about what makes a good logo. I talk about how, let's say it has to be appropriate for your industry. It has to be able to take on meaning rather than be symbolic. Factors like this, they help the client go back to those things, or you can help bring them back to those points and say, looking at this logo, does it fit this criteria? Is it appropriate for your industry? Is it able to take on meaning? Rather than being very objective about looking at a design from your own perspective. The last thing I think is really important in helping your clients give good feedback is ultimately knowing the kind of decision-making structure of the group of people that you're meeting with. If it's only one person and they are the person who makes all the decisions, that is the ideal scenario, I think it makes it so much easier. But many times you actually end up having different people on maybe the board of a company, or maybe the marketing person and the CEO and someone else who all have influenced together. But if those people don't agree, we can end up in a tricky situation where you have to try to help those people come to a joint conclusion so that after the meeting, you can actually move forward on a really clear root. Knowing if one person has the ultimate decision is really helpful in the situation, and if not, we have to, I think put on our negotiation hat and help our clients to see things from the perspective of we are the expert and we can help guide them if they are not sure. We're not going to tell them exactly what to do, but we can advise them on which direction we think seems most suitable, and at the same time, addressing their concerns and their different thoughts. 4. Presentation Formats: Before we go into each section that I think is good to include in your pitch deck, I want to talk a little bit about formats first. Although you could, let's say, have any format that you like, I think of benefit is to have a format that you can have screen-sized slides that you can easily switch between. My suggested format is to create an either in PowerPoint or Keynote, or to create it in a program like InDesign and just make sure that the art board size is exactly one screen size. This means that when you are actually exporting it as a PDF, or if you're working in Keynote, for example, you're able to just use the arrows on your keyboard to go between different slides. We're not accidentally showing partly of the next slide while we're viewing something because it can be really distracting for a client to take in the information that you're talking about. If they're starting to see other things that could be interesting, a little bit lower down or maybe talking about something that was further up as well. This is also where I think it's actually really helpful to add a little bit of text to your presentations. Now, this is a balancing act because on the one hand, you'll want a little bit of text that helps explain your thinking process and motivations for your design choices on each slide. This is because a lot of times we pitch work to clients and then they get so many different impressions that they have to process that many of them often ask to look at it after the meeting in their own time. Now, that's, I think something that in an ideal world we would avoid, but it's something that happens all the time. I think it's better to be realistic about that and add enough explanation that when your client is reviewing things, they're actually remembering why you made those design choices. At the same time, we don't want to put so much text that it becomes something your client is trying to read as you're presenting work. We don't want to have a whole long written out explanation, because that can be really distracting and makes it difficult for them to listen to what you're actually saying. One way to make this a little bit easier is to always have that concept overview text page at the beginning of each concept. This is one of those things where you're giving a really good idea of the whole overarching idea behind each concept. I think it really helps us to put everything else into context and perspective. 5. What Sections to Include: What sections to do actually include in your pitch deck? I think most of us include some combination of showing the logo, showing typography, showing colors. But I thought I would take you through what my pitch deck looks like as a way for you to understand the sections that I include and why, and that can help reflect what you would like to put in your own presentation. I think for me the goal is to really show how the brand is going to practically work. It's really nice to have this idea how everything belongs together with a concept and having the beautiful colors and topography is great. But actually the section of those very basic functional things, should be the smallest section. If we show the logo in black and white, that's great. But we also want to show how is it practically going to be used if, let's say it's a responsive logo where can change to different sizes or different configurations for different formats. We need to show examples of that. How is that practically going to be applied? We also need to show, let's say how it's going to work on social media, or how it's going to work in their merchandise or on a truck. Here, it's really important to choose examples that are relevant to your specific clients business. Just to take you through all the different sections. My sections are showing the logo and black and whites. Here we're really just presenting what the logo will look like, how it looks in different configurations and making sure that it looks really good on both black and white. Next up I showed those logo variations. Do you have an icon? Does it look good on social media? How is it going to be used in these different use cases? Next up, I'd like to show colors and I quite like to do this in action as well. You can show all the different colors and you can put the hex code or Pantone codes or whatever is going to work best for your client. But I also like to show examples and especially showing color combinations because most of the time when you're presenting colors to clients, if we just show here are five colors and you don't give any hierarchy to them. You don't explain how to use those colors becomes really difficult. In a lot of the brands that I design, I have one main brand color that is usually a little bit more colorful or bright. Then I have one complimentary color that's usually a lighter color, that can work as backgrounds, that can work as accents. Then I have a darker color that can be used as, let's say, footers on a website or when you need it to be a little bit more toned down. Then for some brands that need more color, I add other accent colors that can be used for text or for textboxes or something interesting like that. Showing your client not only what the colors are, but how they actually work in context is really important. Next up is topography. Here we're trying to again show an understanding of these are the different typefaces and we chose them for this reason. But also how they're being used in different contexts. Let's say we're using one typeface for the titles. How's it work for subtitles? What difference and point size do we need to have to have that contrast be really clear? Everything we're showing in this brand presentation is helping us implement this brand later, create the brand guide and making sure that we're really showing your clients the work that's gone into your thinking process, and to help them understand how this brand is going to actually be very functional. Next up, I really like to include photography style and here's somewhere. For most brands, I like to include photography style for people and photography style for other things like maybe their products or something where, let's say you have notebooks and coffee cups or other situational photography that isn't of people. You're really trying to create a cohesive feeling. Of course, if your client has a budget to take their own photos, they can use this mood board of photos as a way to reference those and create that style or when they're taking their own pictures. But if they're not, then these could be pictures that you're suggesting they would use on their website, for example that you use from stock photo sites. Next up, I like to include, I would call this category like illustrations slash icon slash patterns. This can be definitely more than one pages and they're really depends on the client. Sometimes we create custom icon sets and we want to show that and how that style is going to work with the rest of the brand. Sometimes it's just little accents or patterns or things like create a more interesting look for the brand overall and really contributes to the visual language as a whole. My next category in my presentation is digital applications. Again, this can be however many slides you feel is appropriate depending on the brand. It's a very digital brand you might want to show, let's say how their Instagram profile is going to work, how their YouTube channel is going to work, how website applications work. Or maybe they have an app that you need to show how the icon is going to stand out against other icons on people's phones, for example. Here you're really trying to just showcase how the brand is going to work practically. That takes us to the next section, which is the more physical or merchandise section. How much you intrude here again, really depends on this type of brands. If, let's say there's a food delivery company, you might want to put t-shirts or outfits that their servers would have. You might want to have a delivery box design or you might want to put on a truck and even if your client hasn't asked for this, of course, we have to think about how much work we put into this. We don't want to overextend ourselves so that we have scope creep, or don't actually get paid for the work we do. But it can also be a really good way for you to show the extensive work that you could do. A bit of a way to upset and show. Actually, we could work on a really cold truck design or we could work on t-shirt design even if that wasn't in the original brief, because it's something you can encourage them to hire you for after this. The last step is to just repeat this whole exact structure where the exact same markups, the exact same examples of structures. But just put this for each concept. However, many concepts you choose to have is really up to you. Some people really like to just have one concept. You put all your effort into it. This can be a really great way to avoid your client creating Franken concepts. If you've ever had a presentation where you pitch things and then your client really loved things from two concepts and they tried to put them together. That can be really tricky, especially if the concepts are vastly different. This can be a really great way. If you've done a lot of discovery, a lot of research, you really narrow down the exact type of brand that your clients need before you start concepting process. I like to present three concepts because I like my clients to be able to say no to something without saying yes to another one. Here, having three concepts usually means that they can pick one that is just not right for them and then we can start getting into looking at what's most appropriate between the other two. I prefer to have three. Some people like to have one, some people have way more. This is something where you have to balance, again, how much work you put in and seeing what feedback you get when you present one concept versus multiple concepts. 6. Finding Mockups: As you probably noticed at this time, having really good mockups that really represent your client's business, is going to help you pitch your concepts in a more compelling way. I wanted to just share a few places that I like to go for really good mockups. The main place I go, because I have a yearly subscription, which I think is a really good choice, is Envato Elements. Here you have all stock photography that you can use for your running projects. You also have assets like icon sets and things like that. But their mockup templates are really good and so you can find things like business card mockups, you can find food truck mockups. Basically anything that you would need, you can find here, and you can edit them yourself in Photoshop. Another really great place is Creative Markets, and they tend to have really beautiful mockups that you can pay for each one. Or you can also have a membership there where you get a discount on each purchase. Another one I want to bring up is Yellow Images. Yellow Images they have everything from 3D P and Ds where you can use, let's say, a tomato that you can rotate in 3D or find different angles from, two really beautiful mockups that you can custom make. The really great thing with Yellow Images is that you can actually request specific mockups. Let's say your client has a very specific packaging, so like a bottle that you don't find as a traditional mockup, you can send a picture of that bottle with specifications to Yellow Images, and they can create a specific custom mockup just for your products. The last place I want to mention is Graphic Pear, and this is a place where you get a one-off license, and then you have access to their whole libraries. This is one where I joined a long time ago, but I can always go back and find new products that they added, and new mockups to choose from. 7. Explaining Your Work: Now that we have all of the preparation work done and we have a pitch deck that we're going to be presenting, it's time to think about how to explain the work that you've done. Now the structure of the template does help a little bit because we have a clear step-by-step presentation to go through. It's nice to have that to hang your thoughts up on. I think the really important thing here is not to show a slide and let it hang there. What we want to do is to, in a very calm manner where we're not trying to talk over our client or not give them space to think, but because they're waiting with their feedback until the end, we can present a slide and we can calmly explain our thinking process behind it. Let's say we want to present the logo and we want to talk about how it's this path that is taken that is really flexible and how that fits with the brand of inclusion and having different experiences at work. Now all we have to do is explain a little bit, again, I'm going back to the brief and saying this is the audience, this is our thinking process, and this is why this logo will be flexible and work in different formats. You could say this logo is going to work horizontally in this manner, which is great for applications on letterheads, for example. While this application where it's stacked works really well in smaller formats where you still need the name. Then you have the icon which can be used for social media or other applications where you just need that little thumbnail. Little explanations like this where you have a motivation that you connect back to the concept of the brand is going to be really powerful for helping your clients see that through line of the concept and how it all belongs together. My suggestion is to have maybe 2-5 sentences that you've prepared that you're going to be saying roughly. Of course, you don't need to read these off of a paper, but just having an idea of what you're going to be saying for each slide so that you're telling the story of the brand through the presentation and the experience to your client. 8. Avoiding Revisions: [MUSIC] You're presenting your work and you want to make sure that it's easy for your clients to make the right decision for them. Now, there's a couple of things I think we can do to help make this process easier for our clients and make sure we avoid a lot of revisions. The very first thing is, as we mentioned before, to just have the exact team structure and the exact same mock-ups for each concept. This makes it so much easier to compare for your clients, and you're probably going to have to go back and forth through the presentation a couple of times because as you've shown all the different examples, they're going to need to go back and refer to things to see how they feel about it now that they've seen the whole picture. That takes us to the next step, which is to have a comparison slide at the end. You can either just put, let's say you're presenting three concepts. You can put three different logos, and that way they can refer back, and remember right that concept was the first one where we looked at this style of logo, then we have this one and so forth. Or, you could put one mock-up that really represents that whole brand style. Maybe you can see the colors and the layout and the logo altogether in one mock-up, and that can be a really great way of doing it as well. Let's talk about how to address feedback. The very first thing we want do is to start talking about the positives. Ask your client which direction they thought felt the most right to them. This is one of those situations where we're really trying to guide our customers and our clients through this. They might start picking up individual things that they're really liking about different concepts. Especially if you have more than one person in the room, it might sound something like, I really like the logo of Concept 2, I felt like the colors were better in Concept 3, and you can start to look for trends. Your job right now is to help listen and compile that into some direction or conclusion. Let's say you're listening in, and you're hearing that overall they like Direction 2 the best. But there are a few things about Concept 3 that they just really are in love with. Now, we want to try to get to the bottom of why they really love those things in Concept 3 and find a way to incorporate or address that in Concept 2 which is the main direction. What you can say is, I'm listening to you and I'm hearing that Concept 2 feels like the most right direction for you. But I'm also hearing that these things in Concept 3 are interesting. How about we try to address them in this way in Concept 2. This is a way to show that you've heard them, you've understood their feedback, and you're making a suggestion. Now sometimes they say, oh, that wasn't why I liked Concept 3, I liked it for this reason, which is great because then you're getting valuable information that you can use to create a new strategy for how to bake those things into Concept 2. We really do need to ask about very specific things, so if they don't like something, try to get to the bottom of why sometimes a client really dislikes a whole mock-up, for example, maybe because they just don't use hats or maybe because they don't like the blue color, and so there could be so many other things that they like about that picture with that example, but we have to get to the bottom of why it's not appropriate. I also want to say that as much as we are experts in what we do, clients are also experts at their business and what's going to work for them. We really do want to listen and take concerns that a client has very seriously. We want to make sure that we're showing them, that we've heard them and that we find a way to address those things before we move forward. 9. If You Miss the Mark: [MUSIC] Let's say you completely missed the mark. They really didn't like any of the concepts fully, none of them felt completely right, and you're feeling really disheartened and a bit nervous about what to say next. This can happen, but it's very seldom, so I wouldn't stress too much about it. If you have done discovery with a client, if you have done research and you talked about mood boards and different directions, very rarely do concepts all completely fail. I would just say it's good to be prepared, so that you know how to move forward. If you get a complete like this isn't working, we're not feeling it, then what we want to do is to really start getting specific. We want to talk about each concept and say, was there something that you did like, even though you might not approve of the full concept. Maybe you've really liked the photography style, or maybe actually the direction of the layout is really interesting. We can start to get these things that are positives that both get our clients more interested in the project again, but also a way for us to start seeing how their mind is working around it and why they might say it's not a good fit. That's the first step to look at the different positives and figure out what it is that we can use moving forward. The next step is to figure out the main reasons that they don't think it works. Maybe they feel like it's too young. Maybe they feel like it's going to be impractical, something like that or maybe we've missed something in our discovery that is actually really crucial. Let's say they actually can't re-brand the restaurant color, so they actually need the color to be the original color to save money. That is something that if you miss that in your discovery, it's going to greatly impact how they see the concepts. Getting to the bottom of these things of what's working and what's not, it's going to help us make a clear path forward for our clients and show them that we have an idea of what to do next in the concepting phase. 10. Wrapping Up the Meeting: It's time to wrap up the meeting. Now, our clients are probably a little bit tired and they've taken in a lot of information. They might be super excited about the work and they might just feel they need a moment to take it all in. Our job as creatives who are presenting this work is now to give a quick summary of what we have decided. Let's say our summary is, this was super exciting, thank you guys for coming, we have decided we're going to move on with Concept 2 over all. We're going to make changes to the typography and we're going to create a little bit of a more pastel color palette just to work a little bit more with your younger audience. On top of suggesting the path forward, we also want to suggest a timeline. Let's say your client wants to go home and have to think about the concepts and see if they have any further feedback, make sure you give them a timeline for when they need to come back with that feedback to you. In the same way, if you are making changes to the concepts, give them a timeline for when to expect your new version. For this new version, when you're just making tiny tweaks, I think it's totally enough to actually send that presentation as a PDF because you've already agreed on all of the overarching themes and that can save you a bit of time. I think it's also a good idea to explain all of the different steps that come after this. Let's say your work is to make a few iterations and then after that you're going to be putting together the brand guidelines, export all of the files, and share it with them so that they can start using them. This is a good thing to explain to your clients so that they are really clear on exactly when they're going to have their finished brand and how they're going to be able to use it. It also helps them prepare to make your payment and anything else that they need to wrap up the project. 11. Thank You & Class Project: [MUSIC] I really hope you thought this was helpful. Presenting work to clients is one of those things that you just get, more and more comfortable with and especially with branding projects because you always have the same sections more or less, you start getting really good at knowing what questions that are going to pop up, and how to address them both in your text, your images, and the way that you present the work. I have added a PDF with my own presentation template down in the description so you can go and have a look at that, and use it as a reference. Then you want to create your own branded one that reflects your brand, and the sections that you'd like to include in your own branding process. Don't forget to share your class project so we can help each other, and give each other feedback, and you can both show the finished work or in-progress pictures or questions that you have along the way. You can also join the discussions to see how we can help each other out, and make sure that we're feeling really comfortable, and excited about presenting work to clients. Thank you again for watching, I'm so excited to see everything you create. Super good luck with your projects.