Blog - May 24th, 2021

What is branding? A guide to a Rusty Monkey branding project

Branding | Reading list | Workshops

A lot of people think that branding is a logo. But branding is so much more than this. Basically, your brand is everything you do, everything you create, and everything you communicate. 

We’re a branding agency in Nottingham, UK, and we run workshops designed to help you create and develop your brand. We believe that a strong brand will do most of the legwork when it comes to marketing your organisation, because good branding is essentially good audience engagement.

Branding is made up of two core components:

  • Visual identity

  • Communication style

Here’s what we mean by these two terms. 

Visual identity

This is the look and feel of your brand. This may include:

  • Colour palette

  • Graphic elements and devices (e.g. the logo)

  • Typography

  • Photography 

  • Illustration 

  • Animation 

  • Iconography

Each of these elements is just as important as your logo. If you have a logo, but you haven’t developed any of these other elements, then you don’t have a brand.

abstract oil painting

Communication style

This is how your brand communicates to the world. This may include:

  • Your core marketing messages

  • Your overall tone of voice

  • Copywriting 

  • Product copy 

  • Blog writing

  • Social media 

  • How you answer the phone

  • How you reply to emails

If your copywriting style doesn’t fit with how your team answers the phone, or if your social media posts contradict your core marketing messages, then you’re doing something wrong.

Visual identity and communication style have to work in perfect harmony to create a coherent brand. It’s no good having comic-book style illustrations if your copywriting is dead serious - your visual identity and communication all need to come from the same place.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to branding than drawing a logo. This is why we run in-depth workshops with our customers in order to create the perfect brand for them.

How to build a brand 

A great brand is built on strong foundations. While it’s important that you personally like your brand, your brand should not be driven purely by your own subjective likes and dislikes. It shouldn’t come from the top of your head, but from meaningful analysis and careful thought.

Our branding workshops will take you through this process, step-by-step. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Brand identity (including core values, brand attributes and brand positioning)

  • Audience and communication

  • Customer journey - mapping

  • Customer journey - analysis

  • Goal setting and strategy

Brand identity

We’ll establish your vision for your brand by delving into our brand philosophy and working through some exercises designed to identify your brand identity.

brand design

Core values

This is where we get to the bottom of why your organisation exists. What is your ultimate reason for being? 

Note: The answer is not “to make a profit”. Think of it this way. Your organisation is a car. Your reason for being is your destination. The money you make is the fuel you put in your car in order to reach your destination. No-one buys a car purely so that they can put petrol in it.

Understanding your core values is vital to establishing what kind of brand you need.

Brand attributes

In this exercise, we’ll create a list of brand attributes to describe your brand. This is a handy crib-sheet that will help guide us through the creative process. For each section, we will try and hone in on 2-3 words or a single phrase that captures your vision.


What is the culture of your organisation, driven by your core values?


What archetypal role does your brand play in the market?


Who is your key audience?


How do you want to communicate?


What kind of visual identity do you want for your brand?


How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?


What benefits does your brand promise to deliver?


How do you want to stand out from your competitors?

Brand positioning

This is a short exercise that helps us understand what your organisation offers to your audience that differentiates you from other players in the industry. Identifying where your brand sits in the market can help you to think of ways to disrupt and deviate from what everyone else is doing.

Audience and communication

Here we ask you to describe your key audiences. These should be the audiences you want, not necessarily the audiences you have.

This includes your customers - but also anyone else who interacts with your organisation, including suppliers, partners and even your staff.

Understanding who your audiences are will help us to ensure your whole brand communicates well to them.

We’ll also look at tone of voice to determine the best kind of language to use in order to connect with your audience.

Customer journey - mapping

We map out the journey each key customer type takes when interacting with your organisation, and determine how they’re feeling, what they’re doing and what their intentions and needs are at each stage of the process.

customer journey workshop sticky notes

Customer journey - analysis

Using the customer journey map we created, we analyse every touchpoint a typical customer comes into contact with throughout their journey with your brand. We identify touchpoints that might be painful for the customer and how we could improve them.

We also identify “moments of truth” - key touchpoints that can define your customer’s entire relationship with you - and figure out how we can make them optimal.

Goal setting and strategy

We look at the goals you hope your organisation will achieve and determine a brand strategy that will enable you to take action towards these goals and objectively measure your success. Then we’ll review all the brand work we’ve done to ensure it represents a coherent vision for your company.

What’s included in a branding project?

In workshops with you, we’ll go through the brand-building process. Each workshop takes place over a day (or can be split into two half-days), and will be held at our studio here in Nottingham (or online). A typical branding project consists of collaborative workshops followed by a design phase.

branding workshop

Armed with the knowledge we have gathered from our workshops, the creative team here at Rusty Monkey will produce the following deliverables - which we’ll review with you at each stage:

Design brief

Based on our findings from the workshops, this document defines the parameters of the creative work to follow, and establishes objective criteria against which to measure the success of the creative process.


These panoramic presentations aim to capture the look and feel of your brand. 

For a typical branding project, we’ll produce three stylescapes, each representing a different interpretation of the design brief - “mild”, “medium” and “spicy”. We’ll then ask you to choose the stylescape you feel best fits your vision of your brand.

This is where we will do most of our creative work, including logo design, colour palettes, typography, tone of voice, etc.

Design refinement

Once the final stylescape is approved, we will refine the designed elements, including the logo.

Brand guidelines

This document is your brand bible, and should be shared with everyone inside your organisation, as well as third-party content-creators. 

It provides detailed guidelines on how to use the brand, how to create assets, and how to ensure everything is consistent.

Brand pack

This will include graphic devices (e.g. your logo) in usable formats, as well as fonts, stock photography, icon sets, imagery and any other assets we used to create your brand. 

This brand pack, in combination with your brand guidelines, will allow you to produce your own assets or get them produced by a third party.

Want to work with us?

If you think your organisation could benefit from a branding project with us, drop us a line. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Who wrote this?



She / her; red / blue. Mel is a writer, editor and designer. Equally happy hiking a muddy trail as playing tabletop roleplay games by candlelight. Will seize any opportunity for a party, as long as said party features copious food, prosecco and hits from the 1980s. Her true passion lies in words. A student of literature, she is fascinated by enduring myths, etymology and science fiction. Kurt Vonnegut is her hero. “We are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”

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