What’s your creative M.O.?
Sep 2012 27
What is your business modus operandi and is it working for you?
Business processes and practices are essential in moving forward in a sensical and useful manner. Consider exploring the steps I will put before you as not only a creative process for your businesses’ marketing and design needs, but also as matrices to apply to other business challenges as well. As a graphic designer, I use creative processes all the time, in fact, for every project I have.
  • Determine objectives/Develop design strategies
  • Determine design criteria
  • Research
  • Create your concept
  • Design

Steps to determine project objectives:

    1. Have a discussion. Understand the real needs and thoughts behind past actions. Listen carefully to questions like these:
      • What is the history of your firm?
      • What are your short and long term goals?
      • What do you want to achieve?
      • What work have other designers done for you in the past and what were the results?
      • What is your marketing or design strategy?
      • What do you want others to learn about your product or firm?
    2. List the objectives and then write a statement for each problem using a clear and succinct description of your objectives. Summarize the key messages that will be expressed in the design.This statement is the verbal version of the visual you will make.
    3. Devise a plan to execute your objectives as best as possible. Determine goals, objectives, audience and marketplace. Figure out your plan of action in order to accomplish your objectives.Consider these questions:
      • What is the design function?
      • What is its purpose?
      • What is its role in the greater marketing plan?
      • Who is the audience?
      • Where will it be seen and for how long?
      • What spirit needs to be conveyed?
      • What are the unique selling points?

Use these questions to determine design criteria:

      • How much time is available?
      • How much money is available?
      • How will the project be used? Budget, time and usage are the three most important components to answer when determining criteria.

Research

      • Get as much information from your client as they are willing to give you.
      • Research using only words and later, research using only pictures or photographs.
      • Ask questions, Write Letters and ask some more.

Create and Develop your concept 

      A design concept is the creative solution to a design problem. This is the most demanding step.

A creative solutions is:

      • It’s a solution to the client’s problem.
      • It’s expressed through the design medium or language.
      • It’s appropriate for the client/product, spirit and objectives.
      • It communicates clearly.
      • It’s functional. A package has to open; a pictorgram has to identify; a map has to direct.
      • It has impact.
      • It’s memorable.
      • It’s original.
      • It’s fresh, stimulating, exciting and stunning.
      • It’s executed appropriately and well.

Develop your concept by doing these:

      • Define your problem in your own words.
      • Know the message.
      • Think it all the way through.
      • Talk to people.
      • Brainstorm.
      • Use a good dictionary and look up and expand on your ideas.
      • Understand it fully.
      • Look at everything: visuals including paintings, book covers, photographs, wood type, old toys…anything and everything
      • Take notes.
      • Ruminate.
      • Be playful with your visuals—crop them, discolor them, change their order…
      • Change directions.
      • Analyze other great ideas/movies/books
      • Finally and most importantly, Trust your Intuition.

Design

      This will undoubtedly change according to the design firm of your choice, so I’ll share my steps and I use the word “steps” very loosely here, as this is the part where less structure is definitely more.
      • Create a mood board.
      • Create hundreds of thumbnail sketches.
      • Create hundreds of word sketches.
      • Move on to rough drafts (where you will have a closer/clearer direction).
      • Create Comps (Comprehensives) which are basically the polished ideas in a format your client can easily choose from.
      • I will usually offer three options from which to choose.
      • The next stage involves any reworking or edits/small changes.
      • The final step is production usually utilizing many different people: printers/vendors, illustrators, photographers, maybe even messengers.

If you are currently having design firm developing a project for you this will be helpful in opening the lines of communication and if it’s a DIY project, now you know where to start and finish! It’s a lot to digest at once, but each segment is truly necessary to make certain designer and client remain on the same page and that the project is an absolute success! I would love to answer any questions or comments!

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