Florian Born
Marketing human at Carrot & Company.
Does content in his sleep. Other people just call it "dreaming" though.
8 Minutes

From Zero to Brand Design in 3 Hours

8 Minutes
posted on March 9th 2021
Your SaaS product won’t get far without a brand and a great design. Luckily this doesn’t take years to achieve. The 3 hour brand sprint takes you a long way.

Let's get something straight for a second: If you're developing a SaaS product, you're not going to get very far without a brand. Without a logo, without a design, without a visual (and emotional) recognition value. At least not if you want to get your product to users somehow. The good thing is that you don't need a three-week conference somewhere in the Swiss Alps to come up with a finished brand. Three focused hours will get you a long way.

Brand... What was that again?

Before we explain how to best approach your rapid branding process, let's quickly clarify what a brand even is. Marty Neumeier, author and speaker on branding, defines brands as "a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organisation. It's a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings."

In other words, your brand is what people first associate with your product when they think of it. This includes the logo, design, language and a certain intuitive feeling. In the best case, the latter corresponds to your values and your motivation.

By the way: This also happens if you haven't thought about your brand before. The difference is that you have no control over it in that case and that you can't know what people really think. You are virtually flying blind. Thinking about your brand prevents that.

But of course we know how complex that sounds. Luckily, you don't need much time for this. At least not for an initial overview of your brand. Three hours, your executive team and a pile of scrap paper are enough for now. We are talking about the 3 Hour Brand Sprint.

The 3 Hour Brand Sprint

The idea of the 3 Hour Brand Sprint comes from the book "Sprint (How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days)" and is probably the fastest way to gain real understanding of you and your brand. And it's the first step on the path to your brand's identity. Here's how it works:

You and the key decision makers on your team (2 to 6 people) take a 3-hour time slot, an empty room with a whiteboard, pens and a pack of scrap paper. One person becomes the decider (probably the founder or CEO). The laptops are left at the door. They have no business in the room with you.

In the course of the Brand Sprint, you will work on the following six points in 30-minute time slots:

  1. Where do we see our company in five, ten, fifteen and twenty years?
  2. What do we do? How do we do it? And why are we doing it?
  3. What is important to us? What do we stand for? What our top three values?
  4. Who do we want to reach? Who are our top three target groups?
  5. How are we? What is our personality?
  6. And, who is our competition? How do we compare to them?

The process of a brand sprint by Jake Knapp and the team at Google Ventures.

You can find more details about the Brand Sprint (with detailed instructions for each point) in the GV Library article . By the end you should definitely have written down all the knowledge about your brand that had been floating around implicitly before. At least on whiteboards and photos.

Sort and summarize

Now take this pile of loose knowledge and bundle it up as concisely as possible. Preferably on a single A4 page, so you can see everything at a glance. Why do you do this? Why not just shake a logo out of your sleeve? It's simple:

The content of your brand has to be in place before you can start designing. Your design is based on all the decisions you made in the Brand Sprint. The more decisions you make, the easier it will be to find the look and feel of your brand.

Moodboard (Source: www.pinterest.com)

How does your brand feel?

That's what it's all about next. Not, however, by designing right away. Instead, start by creating a mood board. In it, you collect other designs that roughly correspond with your brand, your values, your target group - in short: with the results of the Brand Sprint.

By the way, the designs don't have to belong to your competition, but can come from any field. The only important thing is that they feel similar to what your brand is supposed to do, and maybe have a similar target audience.

The logo

Done? Good. Then it's time to move on to the visual cornerstone of your brand. Your logo. It's probably the first thing people think of when your brand is mentioned. So it should really match what your brand is all about.

So whether you already have an existing logo and want to give it a makeover, or you're starting completely from scratch; you should keep the results of your brand sprint in mind.

A good strategy for this: Brainstorm (alone or as a group) several terms that people should associate with the brand. Fast, safe, modern, and so on. Whatever fits your brand. You can also use the values from the Brand Sprint.

With these terms you go one step further and think about associations to them. When you think of "fast", you probably think of lightning, a rocket or something similar. Think about what you can visualise and simplify. From this you can create a logo that not only looks nice, but also works in all colours and formats and conveys your brand perfectly.

Brand Elements (Source: unsplash.com)

All the rest

Now the other parts of your brand are up. On the one hand the visual ones like typography, colours, imagery, illustrations, graphics and much more. And on the other hand everything around the topic of language. How do you address your users, how do you write, which terms do you use?

The good thing: With the 3 Hour Brand Sprint under your belt, you have access to an enormous wealth of knowledge about your brand. All these decisions are based on your values, your target groups, your motivation and your personality. As long as you keep those in mind (or on a cheat sheet) you can't really go wrong.

And if you still want a little support, someone to host your brand sprint, polish your brand design, or pull a picture-perfect new logo out of the metaphorical top hat, write to us. We'd be thrilled to work with you on your brand.

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