The Best Branding Ideas Come from Lots of Ideas

Why are so many “creative communications” so unremarkable? Clearly, most of the trademarks, websites and ads out there are generic. Trendy. Vaguely attractive, yet forgettable.

One reason for the epidemic of bland branding ideas is that the typical development process offers too few ideas to choose from in the early stages. 

If you come up with more ideas on the front end, you’re much more likely to come up with a big idea.

Now let’s say you need to create or renovate a graphic identity – how do you arrive at a logo solution that really resonates? 

Challenge the process! 

How can a different process lead to better logo ideas? Here is a contrast between traditional agency and studio practice and the Tactical Magic method in key stages of creative development (assuming that thorough care is given to understanding client requirements and strategic nuances in each case):



Traditional Method:  The creative team or individual designer tries to think up a brilliant solution. Several ideas get jotted down and the process halts when someone authoritatively says, “That’s great! Let’s run with it!”

Tactical Magic:  The creative team works both individually and in unison to create as many ideas as possible (unashamedly emphasizing quantity over quality at this stage). Never stopping at the first really appealing idea. When someone says, “That’s great!” the response is, “Let’s see if we can top it.” 

The principle at play here is that broader thinking in the beginning allows stronger results in the end.

Lots of rough ideas – a typical “War Room” wall at Tactical Magic



Traditional Method: The agency/studio prepares three carefully rendered layouts for formal presentation. Here’s the usual formula:

a. "The perfunctory exactly-what-the-client-expects solution" (the designers didn’t really put their hearts into this one, and pray it won’t be chosen).

b. "The Recommendation" (yes, with a capital R), accompanied by a passionate, bullet-proof rationale.

c. "The over-the-top, too-edgy option" which primarily exists to position the Recommendation as the sensible middle ground between boring/expected option a, and dangerous option c.

Tactical Magic: Our client is actually invited into the War Room and gets to see all the ideas on the wall, with the stronger concepts highlighted. No computer comps, just rough sketches. Working collaboratively, we select the few ideas that fulfill the brand strategy in the most thoughtful and creative way. After taking a few days to refine those short-list ideas, we meet again to settle on the strongest.

The evolution of a trademark.

Starting rough and progressing from there as a client-agency team actually adds efficiency to the process. We’d much rather discover that a favorite solution is fatally flawed from our client’s perspective before we lavish time polishing and finishing it. Besides, looking at early idea sketches is just more fun.

NOTE: As you may have experienced, the Traditional Method can yield unpleasant results. Initial responses vary from, “Is that all you have?” to “None of these really do it for me.” Usually, rightly so. And the ensuing debates, restarts and revisions chew up a lot of time and money. This is in stark contrast to the intentionally progressive Tactical Magic experience.



Traditional Method: At this point, deadlines and budgets can be stretched pretty thin. Tempers, too. And there’s a lot of pressure to wrap-up the project quickly.

Tactical Magic: There’s still time for fresh thinking. Options and recommendations are carefully considered for details like proportion, style, color and letterforms. The details make all the difference.

NOTE: While this example focuses on logo development, the process works just as well for trade names, interactive tactics and ad campaigns.



Ultimately, taking a little more time for thinking and collaboration in the early stages makes for a more efficient and productive process overall. Most importantly, we find that the results stand up to any and every measure of success. Happy clients. Creative accolades. Engaged audiences. Memorable brands.




"A brand is a set of differentiating promises that link a product to its customers."
- Stuart Agres