Our design process doesn’t follow a rigid framework because we believe that every project is unique. So we take a bespoke approach to every assignment and try to tailor it to the client’ specific needs and requirements.
To ensure the design work aligns with clients’ expectations, we’ve developed a flexible framework to guide us every step of the way. Each phase of our design process will usually include a PDF output for the client to sign-off before we continue with the next phase.
We kick-start every project with an inception meeting via a video conference call. During the session, we introduce ourselves to the client and go through the project’s requirements in detail to confirm our assumptions with the parties involved in the project, ensure we set realistic expectations and have a clearly defined scope. If necessary, we might ask the client to fill out a questionnaire to gain a deeper understanding of their audience and the vision for the brand and gather the necessary market insights.
The findings from the discovery phase will help us to compile a solid creative brief and plan on how to approach the project.
Before any creative work begins, we conduct background research and a series of brainstorming sessions that will facilitate the idea generation. We usually put the research aside for a few days to let the ideas ferment in our heads until we revisit our findings and begin exploring initial concepts and the creative directions we could take to approach the brief.
Following the research and idea generation phase, we deliver a concept deck to offer more context when presenting preliminary ideas and help the client better envision the proposed creative directions. The presentation content will vary depending on the project, but generally has the creative direction, rationale, and the proposed design solution. Concept decks include visualisations of the possible applications, to help the client imagine how the work will look after implementation.
The number of design options we share with the client depends on the type of project and budget. We explore and discard several different creative approaches before we commit to a proposed direction. We develop most of the design work to an advanced stage before presenting it.
Typically, for logo design projects, we deliver up to three design concepts for evaluation and the design options that we propose take very different directions. For other graphic design and motion graphics assignments, we prefer to propose only one design direction and use the interaction we had with the client to gain a good understanding of their requirements—the project’s objectives, target market and any aesthetic/style preference or special requirement they might have. For example, for a brochure design project, as the first draft, we would submit a cover with a couple of spreads to gather initial feedback and check if the client is happy with the direction we’ve taken.
This is our preferred approach unless the client specifically requests to see several design options. We believe in this approach because is cost-effective for our clients and allows us to spend the time focusing on getting one design spot-on rather than a number of choices. In general, we favour quality over quantity and believe that too much choice can be overwhelming—you run the risk that poor ideas water down the good ones. We only present ideas we believe in and never put forward weak ideas, or one we’re unsure about, as we don’t believe in quantity over quality.
Design and Implementation
Once the client is happy to continue with a creative direction, we begin design execution. After the first presentation, we work closely with the client and go through iterations, usually 2-3 rounds of refinements, until we finalise the designs.
When the client’s quality standards (and ours) are achieved, we prepare the design pieces for final production and collaborate closely with any third-party vendors (such as printers) to make sure that the finished product meets the client’s expectations.
With the design materials finalised, the final artwork is prepared in the file formats outlined in the project offer, and the final deliverables are handed over to the client.
The branding work we complete often results in the provision of a style guide, whether for the visual identity system or the creation of brand assets to support the client’s digital marketing and social media activities.
At the end of a branding assignment, we normally offer our clients the possibility to check with us when they’re unsure about implementation—a check-in period to review PDFs of any follow-up work our clients create in-house or through other contractors. Other times, we continue as the client’s design team on a monthly retainer and offer ongoing design support.