Rewind a few (uh um) years ago whilst studying about design management, brand strategy and all things brand building, I came across this model: The Double Diamond.

It seemed so simple, so pure and clean that surely this couldn’t possibly define how designers work?! Could it even begin to articulate that messy, non-linear, joyous occasion of problem solving meets beauty?

In short, yes.

Let me show you how.

The Double Diamond was created by the British Design Council in 2005, and is a simplified graphic representation of A design process (please note there are others). It came about having followed the design departments of 11 global firms, resulting in 4 clear , generic stages being identified across the board.

© Design Council 2005

“Every design specialism has a different approach and ways of working, but there are some commonalities to the creative process”

- Design Council

It shows 4 stages, set across two adjacent diamonds.

Each of the four stages is characterised by either divergent thinking (coming up with a number of possible ideas) or convergent thinking (refining or narrowing to a ‘best’ idea). The Diamond shape indicated that divergent thinking occurs twice in the process: to confirm the problem and again to deliver the solution.

The four stages are:


A key error is diving straight into Develop and Deliver, without the first two stages. 


You will end up solving the wrong problem, or for the wrong audience, or with the wrong spec… For the best results, all facets need to be explored, challenged, iterated and refined. That is why ALL my packages always start with DISCOVER and build from there.

To explain each stage in more detail:


The beginnings of a project, where you can look at the world in a fresh way, notice new things, ways of being, improvements that can be made and gather insights.


This is taking the findings, insights and possibilities from the Discover phase and making sense of it into a clear creative brief that “frames the fundamental design challenge”.


This is a period of exploration, where solutions and concepts are tried and tested – the iterative process resulting in improved and refined ideas.


Essentially the outcome of the project (be it a product, process, piece of furniture, item of clothing – whatever it is), is finalised, produced and launched to market.

How have I adapted this to my methodology?

These four stages translate directly to the stages of building a brand – be it from scratch or as part of a refresh project.

I have renamed my process the 4D’s and tweaked the names a little:


This is a process I have used and refined over many years now and follow with every client project.

What each stage of MY framework includes:


 Much like the design process, this is all about research,  opening your eye and gathering insights. This includes behavioural trends, technologies, your competitor and your reason to believe etc. The end result is a comprehensive overview of where you want to play and the landscape you’re likely to face.


The design model states this stage as “develop a clear creative brief that frames the fins a mental design challenge.” In brand building, this is taking the insights from Discover and delving into the brand story – defining your brand strategy, creating what It is, why It is and wrapping verbal and visual qualities around it. I adopt a ‘4P’s’ framework as part of this stage: Purpose, Point of Difference, Principles and Personality. 

The outcome of this stage is your brand strategy document – outlying the overarching purpose, values, what makes it different, how it walks, talks, looks and behaves and what underpins all of that. It’s an EXTREMELY valuable and yet HUGELY under valued stage of the process. If this is right, the rest comes far easier, with the team on board or with less resistance and confusion.

“What you do on day 1 in your business dictates what you do in year 10”

Sir John Hegarty


I have renamed this stage from “Develop”, but essentially this is the design development stage – visual and verbal concepts are submitted, having been led by the brand strategy (that largely acts as the creative brief). Anything from 2-5 concept could be created and presented to the client for review. These are then refined (usually over 2-3 rounds) to end on an agreed visual and verbal tonality and identity system, that captures, articulates and shows the brand story.  This needs to FEEL right with the owner as well as ticking all the boxed from the insights gained in stage 1 and the brief / direction identified in stage 2.



This is the brand roll-out stage and means identifying what the business needs (at least as a starter) and recreating the brand story at each touch point.

This can differ from business to business, but I offer a starter package with my [BIG BOX] package that has all your essentials covered to your brand brand to market.

This is a highly detail part of the process, one where business owners tend to drop off the interest levels… BUT, fortunately, if all the other elements are comprehensive, strong and complete, this can be picked up by a creative agency / designer and they can do it for you.


So, there you have it – my 4 stage framework that makes the daunting task of brand building that little bit easier, manageable  and de-mystified.

It’s worked for me for years: My clients know where they are at every step of their journey and eventually see the true value at every stage.

The adaptation from the Design Council model works so well with brand, and indeed any form of problem solving task:

  • Identify a problem >
  • Go broad and explore it >
  • Define some opportunities >
  • Explore and develop the specifics of the solution >
  • Make it happen!


Want to learn more about the model, check out the British Design Council website.


Don’t know where you are in your brand journey?
Not sure if you have all that you need?
Contact us and we can get you brand confident with brand building solutions from root to leaf.

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