1. Must a strategic direction be determined before the design process can begin?
— Not necessarily. In most cases a predetermined strategy helps the designer create a visual identity, but it can work both ways. When the creative team actively participates in the process of determining strategy, an original design direction can be the starting point for a successful marketing platform.
2. Should a logo be designed and approved before embarking on a visual identity system?
— Yes. Visual identity is always built around a logo, whether it is a simple wordmark, a pictorial symbol or icon, or a combination of both.
3. Should divisions within an organization employ a distinct identity of their own?
— No. Every division or branch within an organization should take on an identity that is derived from the primary brand. When a division is represented by a unique identity of its own, the power of the overall brand is diluted, causing conflict and confusion both internally and externally.
4. Should design guidelines always be followed?
— Yes. Basic rules governing the use of the logo, color palette, type families, and editorial style are meant to keep a brand clear and distinct from competitors. But...
5. Is flexibility desirable within a visual identity system?
— Yes. As long as the guidelines are clear, and flexibility is built into the system in specified areas, it is preferable to encourage variety and innovation within a brand to keep it fresh and timeless.