A look at the book "Identity Designed.

A look at the book "Identity Designed.

The book "Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding" by David Airey is one of the few things I pre-ordered long before its release. I did so because I anticipated the significance and uniqueness of this book and the experience it offers. It's not just about inspiration, as found in hundreds of other books and websites, but rather about the practical aspects concerning the working style of design studios showcased in this book. These studios provide detailed insights and practical notes rarely found elsewhere.

Overall, this post doesn't provide an in-depth review of the book; it's more of a quick summary of its content, style, and what you can expect from it. I'll start with some quick points that impressed me about the book, then I'll give an example of one of the identities and discuss how the author deals with and summarizes the studio's work process, along with the sequence of operations and key points thereof.

Here are the four main points that impressed me in this book:

01 - One of the remarkable and unique aspects of this book is that your insight will not only focus on the identity and its details but also on the experience of the team working with the client themselves. You'll understand the nature of their work and their approach to dealing with clients, emphasizing the business aspect rather than just the creative side.

02 - You'll also notice a clear difference in the working methods and diversity of the studios featured, with each team having its own distinctive work style. This includes how each team deals with the client, as well as details such as pricing, payments, project duration, and more, which are rarely discussed.

03 - At the end of each identity showcase, there's a quick review of the key points relevant to the team's working style. This serves as a summary or reminder of what you've read, reflecting the team's experience, whether related to that specific identity or others. This aspect is wonderful as it serves as both a summary and a reminder.

04 - The unique diversity in this book will help you understand the positioning of design studios and their differences. Some studios are represented by one or two individuals, while others operate as startups without any restrictions or complications. You'll also find studios with clear hierarchies and multiple work teams, as well as studios that don't accept any projects regardless of the budget, studying each project and its compatibility with their vision and identity.

To avoid making my review of the book boring and solely reliant on my admiration for what I've seen, I'll take an example of one of the identities mentioned in the book and delve into the author's approach to studying and dealing with it, along with the studio that executed it. I'll also highlight the points the author focuses on with each identity presented in the book. These points and their sequence are almost common with all the identities featured.


The book's introduction and the first identity

In the book's introduction, the author briefly touched on the history of brand identities, covering it in a few pages. Then, the author transitioned to the first brand identity featured in the book, which is Primal Roots presented by the "Lantern" team. As with most of the brand identities or case studies presented, you'll notice several key aspects in each of them. Here lies the enjoyment and unique experience. Specifically, I'll mention the Primal Roots project as it is the simplest and encompasses most of the points mentioned in almost all the brand identities.


Results and Delivery – Project Deliverables

In other words, these are the outcomes that the client would expect from the studio upon completion of the work. Here, the team discusses their expertise in creating a unique message or voice for the identity. They also provide a quick overview of what they offer to the client. Their approach involves presenting two different logo designs, followed by providing a brand guidelines document, along with basic applications of the logo. Additionally, they offer some advertisement designs or social media assets.


Pricing and Duration – Design Pricing

Here, the team discusses their pricing strategy, mentioning that the cost of the identity they worked on was $13,000. They explain that their pricing is determined based on the time spent on the project, which varies depending on the nature of the work itself, ranging from ten to twelve weeks on average. They also mention a project that took them 18 months to complete.

On the side note, you'll find a significant difference in prices among studios, which is naturally associated with the project's nature, the team's expertise, reputation, and the location of the company or studio itself.


Terms and Conditions

The team discusses their approach to the work agreement, which is sent to the client in the initial stages. They also mention their method of requesting the initial payment, which is typically 50% upfront and 50% upon delivery. Here, you'll also find some variation in the methods used by studios, which may differ depending on the amount, size, and duration of the work. Some studios divide the payments into three installments, while others opt for monthly payments throughout the duration of the project. The team also notes that problems often arise not from the client's dissatisfaction with the work delivered but rather from delayed payments or avoidance of payment, citing an experience they had with a client in this regard.


The Brief

This section pertains to the practical aspect of the project, starting from understanding the project itself and asking the client about the nature of their project. It also involves workshops and meetings conducted not only with the team but also with the beneficiaries of the business. In the introduction of the book, a beautiful phrase is mentioned that summarizes the concept of the brief: it's about creating a cohesive entity and structure to ensure that everything progresses smoothly and doesn't veer off in another direction.


A Strategic Approach

The team mentions here that their working strategy and approach doesn't necessarily only concern design. Some of their projects focus solely on the identity message, while others primarily emphasize design. The team refers to this step as the beginning of the identity spirit or the manifesto, which might be challenging to translate its meaning directly. However, the idea behind it is the emotions and ideas standing behind the identity, how they behave, the message they convey, and the differences between this identity and its competitors, for example.


Finding Ideas

This section is related to the actual working style, where the team explains their approach to brainstorming ideas and dealing with problems and challenges, or sometimes the absence of new ideas. They may find it beneficial to step away from the work for a while and then return to it later. They also discuss their approach to dealing with ideas and the actual models they come up with, then researching and ensuring they do not violate any rights after coming up with the logo or the basic symbol, especially since this is common in this field of work.


Design Presentation

This section concerns presenting the results to the client after completing them. For example, the "Lantern" team creates a recap of all the stages they went through and the ideas they reached, whether for their team or for the client. Then they present two basic models to the client, usually starting with reading the identity message, followed by presenting the font style, colors, and design style of the website or social media. Sometimes they may have a preference for a specific model, and other times the two models represent different styles or perspectives of the identity. They try not to influence or guide the client towards a specific model unless asked for their opinion on it.



This stage concerns the delivery and what is provided to the client along with the logo. It emphasizes the necessity of the identity guidelines, which should include the colors, fonts, and elements of the identity. The "Lantern" team mentioned a beautiful phrase summarizing the purpose of the identity guidelines, which is to maintain the consistency of the identity on one hand and the creative aspect on the other.

They often monitor the client and their interaction with the identity after delivery, following their social networks, for example, and how they present designs and advertisements. If they notice any mistakes (as most of these entities deal with external companies), they send a friendly email to alert them and offer their ideas and suggestions on how to present the designs correctly.


Key Points

  1. At the beginning of each identity, you should thoroughly understand your client's project and their aspirations for this identity.
  2. Never start any creative project before receiving payment or an initial installment.
  3. Dealing with entities and companies willing to take their identity in a unique and different direction makes your work more distinctive and appealing.
  4. When you reach a dead end, leave the project you are working on for a while; it will help you clarify your ideas.
  5. It is important to provide a recap or summary of the identity and the stages it went through in your presentation of the results.
  6. Presenting many ideas and models to the client may weaken and devalue your efforts and work.
  7. Remember that the client knows their identity better than anyone else.
  8. Do not treat the identity guidelines as restrictions and rules, but gather your notes and present them to add a creative dimension to the identity.



The book is more comprehensive and important than I can summarize in a post, and some studies and identities will differ from each other depending on the design team's working style. Some may provide additional or different points than those mentioned here. My goal with this overview is to introduce you to the book and its approach in general.

This is my first advice for this year to everyone working in this field or intending to pursue it professionally: read something that could truly change your career path.

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