What is a brand discovery image of magnifying glass by Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles

What is a brand discovery??

If you have ever watched a courtroom drama, I am sure you have heard of the term “discovery”… but what is a brand discovery?? 

Well to be honest, a brand discovery is the most important step in building a brand. Most people think, well I just need a logo, do I really need to do all that work?? Yes! If your attorney skipped the discovery phase and just jumped into the courtroom blind not knowing any of the facts, what are the odds they will win the case? Slim to none. Same goes for your branding, a discovery is where we learn the facts. We learn what will make your logo a win vs a fumble. 

Let’s look more at a brand discovery and review what is entailed: 

Initial Conversation: What is a brand discovery image of Jordis Small by Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles

This is a conversation where I ask lots of questions about your business. It’s the kick off to your brand discovery phase! We want to know…What are your goals, 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year… Who is your current client base, Who is your dream client base, How are you connecting with them today? Not only do I want to get to know you, but I want to know your brand in its current state. This conversation will allow me to understand more about what is needed in order to get you to your goals. 

Branding Questionnaire:

Most designers have a set of questions they like to ask clients during the brand discovery phase… While we ask you to fill out a questionnaire, we also review it with you and talk through any answers that might be a miss or don’t fully align with your goals and see where the disconnect is happening. For instance, if I ask you for your target audience’s age range and you tell me 9 – 90, we are going to need to talk through that one and get a more narrow range. This questionnaire is meant to be fun, we ask questions like “who would your celebrity spokesperson be?”, “what is the song in your hype video?”… These fun questions tell us a lot about the vibe you are trying to capture! 

Industry Audit:

What is a brand discovery image of target audience scale by Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles

An audit of industry is where we take a look at your industry and know what the competition is looking like. This is a crucial step in the brand discovery because it helps us know if we are in alignment or not. This also helps us define ways to set you apart. We once helped a client in the mental health space and it wasn’t until we did her audit that we realized that 80% of her competitors used orange as their brand color… we knew then, we did not want to use orange and wanted to use a different color combination to stand out. 

Mood Board: 

If you want some tips on how to make a mood board, give this a read! 

But a mood board is a very powerful tool for both the designer and the client. It’s how we can talk the same language before the labor intensive logo design part of the project starts. We each bring images to the table and talk about them. Do they feel in alignment with where we want to go? Is it too fancy? Too industrial? Needs to be more fun?? We can adjust from there and get a solid base for what the brand should look like before rendering any work.


What is a brand discovery image of mood board by Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles

This step is often a little confusing for clients. I like to show them a collection of logos in which I think the “styling” is a good fit for their brand and their goals. I then have them tell me what they like and don’t like about each one. If there is one they absolutely love, I know to create something that feels like it could sit on the same page. Not copy the logo… but make something with a similar styling. In order to cut back on the confusion, I like to find logos that are of a different subject or different industry… for example, if their logo will be a sun, I won’t show them any logos with a sun in it… maybe I will show them a plant logo, an animal logo, or something abstract and get their feedback. This practice gives me a good sense of what they like and don’t like during the brand discovery phase instead of waiting until the design phase. Skip ahead to see our process once we move on to the logo design phase.

This is not a brand strategy:

The brand discovery phase is a part of all our branding packages, however do not get this step confused with brand strategy. Strategy goes much deeper and helps with vision, voice, mission, values and messaging. Strategy workshops bring up wonderful golden nuggets that help craft a new brand or course correct an existing brand. Brand strategy is sometimes connected to a brand identity design and sometimes results in defining minor tweaks needed to better connect with your audience. 

If you want to know more about brand strategy, book a call!


A brand discovery helps not only me understand the project, but the client understands what is needed and what they can expect from working with you. It’s a blueprint for the creative work to come. I have tried to design logos without doing a discovery and it’s a surefire way to end up frustrated with an unhappy client. Clients will provide feedback like, “I don’t know, it’s just not there yet?”…. And as a designer you will not understand what they mean by that… But, if you have the discovery doc to go back to you can revisit and check the work against the plan and see what is not in alignment! Adjust as needed and always remember, will my target audience like it? That is what really matters! 

Having issues with your branding? Let’s talk! 

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Carolina Vangilder of Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles CA
Carolina Van Gilder
Project manager / Assistant
The coordinator, facilitator and scheduler for all Stellen Design projects. She communicates with clients about everything from contracts and payments to design edits and revisions. She helps keep the logistics on point so Stellen Design can live up to their reputation.
Réka Juhász (ray-ka u-has)
Contract Designer

Réka is a Hungarian-born, American-trained award-winning brand designer with over 12 years of graphic design experience. She loves to incorporate hand lettering, tactile elements, or letterpress into her work. She believes inspiration is all around us and that making brands look good is a worthy pursuit in life.

Jordis Smalls of Stellen Design Branding Agency in Los Angeles CA
Jordis Small
Creative Director
Jordis is a big believer in continued education. She makes it a point to attend at least four workshops or conferences a year to keep her skill improving. She is also a big advocate for “creative play” and loves to spend her spare time trying new things and learning new techniques.