How to Create A Brand For an Interior Design / Architectural Firm

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

A case study on branding starting with the target audience in mind.

Many business owners think a logo, graphic, or word-mark is their brand. But what they don’t understand is that a brand is an intangible thing that is created in the minds of their customers.

And so, whenever we’re approached to design a logo or involved in a full branding project, we need to start with identifying who the customer of the business is.

Now why start with the customer? Because…

“the foundation of a brand is built on the trust of the customer. A customer trusts your brand when their experiences consistently meet or beat their expectations.” — Marty Neumeier, brand strategist, marketer, and author of “The Brand Gap”

A couple of years back, we were asked by an interior design firm to give them a brand refresh. Their design firm specialized in corporate workplace design and have been in business for 30 years.

However, their logo and branding hadn’t changed since then, so they approached our design consultancy, Rayvn Design, to inject some new energy into their brand and make themselves relevant to a more modern and contemporary demographic.

The Discovery Process

Before we started the design process, we went through what is known as the discovery process, where we interviewed their current staff and stakeholders to get a sense of where they currently are and where they see themselves in the future. We did this through direct consultation, surveys, workshops, and teleconferences to gain as much insight as possible.

We asked our client the following questions to get an idea of who their ideal customers are:

  1. What gender are they? (male, female or both). In this case, the target audience is mostly female.

  2. What age range? These are female professionals in the age range of 35 to 50.

  3. Academic background? University and college-educated

  4. Where do they live? In the suburbs, but they commute to work downtown.

  5. Their occupation? Most of them are commercial real-estate property managers & developers.

  6. Their annual income? Over $80K

  7. What technology brands do they usually buy? Apple watches, iPhones, Bose speakers and headphones. They usually work on an iMac and own an iPad.

  8. What fashion brands do they like to wear? They shop at The Bay, Saks, and Nordstrom and buy brands like Burberry, Gucci, Madewell, Tory Burch, and Christian Louboutin.

  9. How do they get around? They drive their own car and sometimes use the subway to get to the downtown core.

  10. Where do they work? Big downtown corporate building

  11. Where do they go on vacation? A relaxing calm beach

  12. What kind of music do they listen to? Retro 80s, 90s, 2000

  13. What kind of hobbies do they have? They like to stay fit, so they do yoga and attend regular group work-out sessions like Orange Theory.

Based on the answers we gathered above, we could start creating a profile of what their ideal customer would look like. Their customers are smart, modern, confident, and their architectural aesthetic style is very linear.

Below is the mood-board (or stylescape) we created that sums up Metford’s ideal customer and brand. Our Customer Persona Archytpe is that of The Creator - they are driven by imagination, self-expression, and originality.

Metford’s customers want to work with a brand that is visionary, authentic, but also sets very high standards & has an impeccable eye for detail.

As such, we determined that Metford's Primary Brand Archetype should be that of The Ruler (high standards, refined & articulate), and Secondary Archetype is that of The Creator. The Brand Attributes we came up with for Metford were: Smart, Modern, Confident, and Linear.

The Design Process

Once the client has signed off on the above discovery, we now have a strategy and direction to design to. Our logo for Metford had to be smart, modern, and linear with a touch of confidence.

Below is a video of me explaining our design process, and how we came up with four logo options that adhered to the above strategy.

The Final Delivery

Metford wholeheartedly embraced their new brand. We showed them not only how their brand manifests itself in print, digital, and social media communications, but also in their new studio space. With bright pops of orange and yellow colors, they established themselves as a bold, visionary, and modern brand that their customers wanted to do business with.

In conclusion:

1. A brand can never succeed without a measured process for stakeholder input. Because we brought the design firm along for the whole journey, they felt that it was their brand right away.

2. Rather than starting with the logo design process, we started with who their ideal customer was and then designed the brand according to the customer’s point of view.

“A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a corporate identity system. It’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. Because it depends on others for it’s existence, it must become a guarantee of trustworthy behavior. A brand is not what YOU say it is. It ‘s what THEY say it is.” - Marty Neumeier, author of “The Brand Gap”

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