Let’s Talk Process.

For all of those who have hired a design­er to do some work …  A logo? Brochure? Maybe a web­site? How often have you heard, “Ok, give me a few weeks and I’ll come back with some options.” Week one goes by, week two, week three goes by! Then final­ly, CONTACT! How­ev­er, the three rough drafts pre­sent­ed are noth­ing like what you had in mind. So you reluc­tant­ly start over again. And thus starts the vicious cycle result­ing in a big invoice paired with a mediocre result.

This sce­nario plays out all too often. Twen­ty some years ago, when I first start­ed to make a liv­ing off design, this is exact­ly the les­son I learned … the hard way. After hav­ing worked with a few Venice design­ers and going through the gaunt­let with big agen­cies, I was final­ly exposed to some “cor­rect” approach­es to the cre­ative process. How­ev­er, none were per­fect. It shouldn’t be that hard, and I was sur­prised to find that I had not crossed paths with any­one, large or small, pro-bono or out­ra­geous­ly expen­sive that had fig­ured it out. Espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the cost, time and lev­els of frus­tra­tion involved. So I final­ly just con­nect­ed all of the obvi­ous dots and cre­at­ed one for myself. Ten years of using this same process and it has yet to fail me.

So you want to know what it is? Just fill out the con­tact form with your full name, address (with zip code), cell phone, social secu­ri­ty num­ber and mother’s maid­en name and we will get that right over to you!

Nev­er mind all that, we trust you.

It’s dif­fi­cult to encap­su­late the entire process because each exer­cise is dif­fer­ent based on the client, the indus­try and what type of cre­ative project it is. Obvi­ous­ly, a logo project is quite dif­fer­ent from a UI/UX design. But I’ll out­line a few of the basics that are con­gru­ent through most exer­cis­es.

Phase 1.0: The Brain Dump

The Brain Dump is the most fun and often is as beau­ti­ful and com­pelling as the final result. In fact, there was one instance where the brain dump actu­al­ly became the brand cre­ative for the entire project!  Before this hap­pens, some gen­er­al dis­cus­sions are had on what the project is, who it is meant to attract and some cre­ative guide­lines, likes and dis­likes. Always before start­ing, we have a strong incli­na­tion for where this is going (**Crit­i­cal**).

So the brain dump is as wide as the fun­nel goes. It includes some com­pet­i­tive research, pages of like or sim­i­lar design con­cepts and pages upon pages of visu­al ideas. Fonts, col­ors, design styles, pho­tog­ra­phy, etc, etc, etc. Any­thing that may be rel­e­vant, in any way to the final design. Good or bad, like it or hate it. We also like to make the pre­sen­ta­tion as com­pelling as pos­si­ble since this is the very first glimpse of a bur­geon­ing brand, so it needs to be beau­ti­ful from the start!

Phase 2.0: Preferences

1.0 is culled through with the client IN PERSON! From here we refine. Take out the bad, accen­tu­ate the good and try to get down to about 3 boards that visu­al­ly say, “This is who we are”! Some­times this takes a few steps, but the end result should be a poster hang­ing on the wall that is referred to often. If it doesn’t feel at home on that board, it has no place in the brand. Light­ning is in the bot­tle at this point.

Phase 3.0: Drafts

The pre­vi­ous phas­es ensure us that we are on firm cre­ative foot­ing before ever start­ing. With­out it, it’s a crap shoot. Note that we are well into our rela­tion­ship with the client before pen­cil hits the paper. In short, with all par­ties in agree­ment and using all of the feedback/direction that we have cre­at­ed with Phas­es 1&2, we can clear­ly script out the options that we are going to move for­ward with.

Phase 4.0+

This is where oth­ers start, but at this point, we are almost done. The drafts are refined, a favorite is cho­sen. The final is refined and ulti­mate­ly agreed upon. Then a brand stan­dard doc­u­ment is made and we are off to cre­at­ing all of the col­lat­er­al!  

The impor­tant thing to real­ize is that this is a lin­ear process. On rare occa­sions, we find our­selves in 3.0 and the client isn’t sure of the direc­tion. At this point, we can eas­i­ly rewind back into 2.0, or even 1.0 and demon­strate how we arrived at our cre­ative deci­sions. This is the crit­i­cal part. We can demon­strate that TOGETHER we arrived at choos­ing the aes­thet­ics that drove the process for­ward.  If we need to change direc­tion, ok. But often it is just a sim­ple tweak or with a lit­tle extra mas­sag­ing, it gets back on track with­out a full rewind.

This works folks. Take it. Use it. Demand it be used. Or bet­ter yet, just reach out and we will hap­pi­ly share more to ensure that your next cre­ative project hits the bulls­eye with laser focus. Beware of design­ers, large or small that don’t have a clear cre­ative process that they can explain, demon­strate and sight exam­ples. It’s not rock­et sci­ence by any means, but our process suc­ceeds in putting a lit­tle bit of sci­ence to an oth­er­wise com­plete­ly sub­jec­tive sub­ject.