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
- Create your concept
Steps to determine project objectives:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!