As explained in part 1, with the approval of both proposal and design brief, the foundation was set to begin exploring design solutions. But even with a design brief already in place, I invested some time in the Briefing and Objectives phase, researching the company and the industry, as well as design expressions that could serve as visual fodder in the Creating the Identity phase.

Design research

My creative process always begins with words, and a good design brief can be an invaluable source of inspiration. The AgilOne brief had several passages that pointed the way for me, beginning with the list of brand attributes:

  • Simple – the subject is complex, the output or how the customer benefits is straightforward
  • Trusted Ally – this tool is the very first thing a marketer looks at, uses and shares every morning
  • Bright – super-smart, gifted, ingenious, resourceful and energetic (brilliant is an appropriate word in the UK – in the US it can connote arrogance; this brand is not arrogant)
  • Friendly – sincere, kindred, family-like; eager
  • Prescient – the predictive aspect of the offer is critical. The difference is that it is data or science driven

I like to fill my brain with those brand attributes and their synonyms, making associations and finding hidden patterns. The tool of choice for this is a word map.

Another passage in the brief provided context for the brand:

AgilOne is in the business of enabling and empowering better marketing outcomes through the marriage of machine intelligence and human intellect. They take all of the very disparate data points available to a marketer – both internal and external, structured and unstructured – integrate, cleanse, map, calculate and predict to maximize value.

If I could visually represent that “marriage of machine intelligence and human intellect” the identity would be strong. To get there, I looked at examples in art and design where math played a role in the creative process, and got a cursory introduction to artificial intelligence by reading articles and watching lectures.

The last step in the research phase was to look at the existing identities in the industry. How high was the bar set by the competitors? Did any of them “own” a colour, or had a distinctive style?

Other than use of blue by some identities, most had an expected identity-for-an-internet-brand look to them.

My course of action was set. It was time to begin the design exploration. I’ll be sharing that and more in part 3.