In my 20+ years of working as a designer, I’ve been asked one question more than any other: “What’s your process?”
Perhaps working with a graphic designer is completely new to you. But even if you’ve enlisted the support of a professional in the past, everyone works in slightly different ways and, of course, everyone wants a sense of what to expect.
Committing to a graphic designer can feel like a big step, whether it’s to establish a brand new identity or to refresh an existing one. The more information you can glean about what the experience will be like, the better.
So what is my process? Read on to find out…
STAGE 1: THE BRIEF
I use this phrase a lot because it’s true: it all starts with a conversation. I want to learn as much about you and your business or existing brand as I can. Your story – who you are, how you got here, your values – is a rich source of information for me and guides the whole process from start to finish.
The first thing I do with a new client is schedule a conversation – either in person or over the phone – and I use a simple template as we talk, to ensure we cover all of your wants and needs. It also means we don’t miss any of the practical or logistical details – timing estimates, deadlines etc.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a super-clear vision of what you want – some clients do and that’s great, but others are less certain. Trust the process – it will emerge!
STAGE 2: RESEARCH
Once we’ve had our initial conversation, I dive deep into my research. I’ll look at your industry and competitors to get an idea of sector norms and trends, with one eye on what looks unoriginal or overdone. I want your design to be original, memorable and feel like ‘you’ – not a pale imitation of something someone else has already done.
This involves pulling lots of references together, often through virtual pinboarding. I always ask clients if they’d like to be part of this process, setting up collaborative private boards on Pinterest so that we can share ideas and inspiration.
STAGE 3: CREATING CONCEPTS
Once I’ve pulled together all of my ideas, I decide on three different routes to present. I combine some initial logo designs with some more refined moodboards in order to give you an idea of where the concept could go.
In my experience, three really is the magic number. Usually there’s a clear winner and often clients ask for particular elements from the different routes to be adapted and integrated somehow into the winning design, which makes for an even stronger final concept.
This stage is really important and shouldn’t be rushed. Sometimes a design speaks very clearly to a client and they’re immediately happy with it, but more often people need an opportunity to digest it, ask questions and ask family and friends for their thoughts.
The most important thing? Communicate clearly and honestly to make sure you get the design that really elevates your brand and speaks to your ideal client.
STAGE 4: REFINEMENT
Once you’ve decided on your chosen route, I then develop it further. Refining the design can take a few rounds of feedback and tweaks, so please do expect this – it’s a perfectly normal (and exciting!) part of the process.
Once you’re happy with the design, I then convert it into the different file types required for print or online and apply it to the specific applications you require – for example, business cards, social media assets, packaging and so on.
Depending on the assets you require, this might involve some collaboration with another service provider. I work with a number of tried and trusted businesses, including Laura McDonagh for copywriting services, Mits Griffin for web design and various photographers and local printers. Sometimes clients already have another supplier on board, e.g. a photographer, or I can source images myself if required – just ask.
STAGE 5: THE LAUNCH!
And finally, I’m not a ‘sign off and never speak again’ kind of designer – I’m here to hold your hand throughout the application and launch process. For me, this is the best bit – taking the design out of the abstract and showing it off to the world!
Any questions, worries or last-minute wobbles – I’m here!