Updated: Jan 16, 2020
Working for a client means we get to do variety of projects. That makes the design industry fun and fulfilling. Designers are presented with opportunities to flex their creative muscles. There is a strategy to creating intelligent design solutions. I continue to refine the process, because not every project fit into a nice cookie cutter format. Some projects have a lot of different moving parts. In order to solve for the anomalies, the process has to evolve. This is the current process that Black uses. For the purpose of this post I am going to explain the process as creating a logo because when designing a website some of the verbiage changes.
How can Black Creative Studio help your business make a difference? What is your budget for this project? These are some questions that I like to ask at the beginning of the initial consultation. For some, it is a difficult thing to answer. Others have the answer right away. It doesn't matter, the initial consultation will answer the question. Think of this stage as a job interview. You will learn about the creative studio and a glimpse into the culture. The creative studio is also learning about you and your problem. Both are establishing a clear channel for communication. That is one of the biggest take-aways from this stage. You both need to learn how to communicate with each other in order to get to the problem.
CREATING A CREATIVE BRIEF, ESTIMATE & CONTRACT
No work will begin in this phase. The creative studio needs to write the scope of the work and summarize the problem that was outlined in the initial consultation. If both parties left with a clear understanding of the problem the creative brief is simple to write. It will outline the needs of the client and help the creative studio estimate how much work will need to do and the cost to the client in order to complete the project. The estimate will also layout a timeline for the potential completion of the project as well as the steps needed to complete the project. The contract seals the deal. Nothing begins until the client has reviewed the information in the documents that the creative studio has provided. They must complete the contract and return it to the studio. Once that happens work can begin, and the project will move into the research phase.
There are very few projects that can be solved without research. Every project has a research phase. It is important to do our homework. We need to get to the root of the problem in order to create a design that will solve your issue. A creative studio will learn about your competition in this phase. They can see what they are doing to solve a similar problem and see if a solution can be developed that will give your company an edge over your competition. Depending on the type of project this could be a short phase or rather long. It really depends on the scope of the project. For example, developing a brand is a long process because there is a lot of surveys and studies that are needed to be completed.
Brainstorming is a short phase. I typically draw 20 to 30 thumbnail sketches on a regular ruled notebook for any given concept before I begin sorting them and decide which concepts deserve further development. I do these very rapidly without refining them – there might be some shading. These ideas are generated from the in-depth research and brainstorming I would do during the research phase.
The second phase does not last long. I will review the concepts and select 8-10 to further develop. I select that amount because as I start to develop the mockups some concepts will not work. That helps eliminate the weaker solutions and allows me to spend time developing the stronger concepts. Everything to this point is done with pencil and paper.
Logo mockups are very helpful. As I stated before this stage helps eliminate solutions that do not fit for the client. It allows designers to develop the strongest solutions. The rough concept has the potential to become a great outlet for creativity. I redraw the concepts I selected on white sheets of paper. This time I take more time and to get a more refined and accurate drawings. I still use a pencil. After this, I use a light box and tracing paper to trace out the designs. I refine the lines and shapes in order to improve the overall design. Sometimes I draw and redraw till I am satisfied with the lines and shapes. I am my own worst critique and I keep art directing myself to ensure only the best ideas make it through this process. Not every concept moves to the next step. I review and select no more than four of the best concepts. Only two of these concepts will be shown to the client.
CREATING THE INITIAL DESIGN
This phase is the first time I work in the digital environment. I do not add color in this stage. A strong logo needs to work in black and white. Color will be added later. I really critique my solutions. I review the lines, weight of the font, strength of the design and the composition. Two concepts are going to be shown to the client, so I want to ensure that I have selected the strongest of the concepts. The concepts need to solve the client's problem.
PRESENTING THE CONCEPTS & REFINING THEM
Presenting the concepts is very satisfying. The client is finally seeing the fruits of my labor. The time that I spent researching the problem and developing the solution is about to pay off. Milton Glaser said it best - “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” That is what every designer strives for. I have found that if you show only two concepts one of them will give you the WOW!
I listen to the client's feedback on the concepts and they are allowed two rounds of revisions. You do not want the client to vary it from the original version making it unrecognizable. The logo will lose impact. This is also when I start to speak about color. I bring the Pantone book out and we discuss the colors. Once the client has decided on colors, I conclude the meeting and will schedule time to present the next version. That is when they will see no more than three color variations of the logo concepts. They will also select the concept that they want to use. This meeting will also be the last chance for any revisions before they see the final solution.
PRODUCING THE FINAL DESIGN
The final solution is presented in black, white and full color. I will show the logo in some different mockup situations. It could be on a sign, a piece of paper, business card or on a store front. This mockup really brings the design home to the client. They get to see how it will live in the world.
Delivering the final files indicates the completion of the project. My work has been concluded and now I have to send the client the files. I provide print, web and vector files to the client. The will receive the files in black, white and full color. A logo has roughly nine files. Each one has a specific use. I also include that use in the filename.
Here are a few examples:
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