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Understanding your design project before you start

When creating a new identity and forming the foundations of a visual brand, the most important stage in the process is the beginning. This is what we like to call the ‘discover’ stage.

The hands-on designing stage, be it sketching ideas in your notebook or plotting vector points in Illustrator, is obviously a vital part and the execution can ultimately make or break a design. The pure aesthetic and artistry of a design can sometimes be enough to allow it to stand on its own two feet. And after all, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the reasoning “I did X because is looks damn good”, especially if that design decision is well-considered and based on years of experience.

However the designer really ought to understand why she/he is creating this beautiful design.

When you approach a design task with a solid understanding of the target audience, the message the client is wanting to say and a good knowledge of the company’s goals, you will have a better chance of creating something more meaningful whilst keeping your client happy because its clear that you’ve listened and baked these ideas into the design direction.

You need to understand your client.

  • What does the company/organisation actually do?
  • What size – and do you want to reflect this in the design?
  • What are its goals?
  • What is the mission statement?
  • What is its heritage – are there any existing and meaningful symbols or colours to draw inspiration from?
  • How is the company currently seen in the market place and where does it want to position itself?
  • Where does it trade? – cultural differences can impact the visuals.

You need to understand your client’s audience.

  • What demographic is the client speaking to?
  • What does the client want to say to them?
  • What gets the audience excited or interested in the product/service?
  • How will the audience interact and come into contact with the brand?

You need to understand your design.

  • Where will it be used – consider digital and print?
  • How will it be used – consider possible extreme sizes and how your design will hold up?
  • What platforms or vehicles will the client be presenting their branded materials upon?
  • What technical problems might you encounter – logos needing to be embroided onto fabric etc.?
  • Are there any sub brands that will need to be created in the future?
  • How will third party logos integrate with your design?

By asking a number of useful questions at the beginning, your design process will be on the right track from the start. You will have answered s lot of unknowns already and you will be armed with the knowledge of what your design ultimately is trying to achieve and it shows your clients that you listen to them and your design is built on careful thought and consideration.


photo credit: abustaca via photopin cc

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