Generating a wide range of ideas is part of the creative process. In order to identify good ideas, or the best ideas, you must first have many ideas. It might be surprising to hear that part of our process is to share all of our ideas with our clients. Yes, all of it—the good and the bad. That means that we offer up sketches and concepts that shouldn't and won’t make the cut in the final delivery.
Why would we do this? Let’s dig a little deeper into the importance of exploring all ideas.
Thinking with our hands
Let's say we're working on designing a new logo and brand. Our design process begins with discussion. We get to know you, your organization, and your purpose. We get a clear idea of what your brand stands for. Then we get to work.
We start by developing a creative brief based on our initial talks. That brief guides us as we enter the concept part of our work. Here, we create hundreds of thumbnail sketches. Some of these tiny sketches are good. Some are... meh. Some are total clichés. And some are... not so great.
We call this process “thinking with our hands.” This fast sketching gives us the freedom to explore a broad range of ideas quickly. We let the ideas fall from our hands to the paper, without getting hung up on their future use. Sometimes this exploration takes us down weird, random paths. But it’s also a direct link to our most creative thoughts.
Here’s the thing: even if we know an idea isn’t good before we put pencil to paper, it’s still floating around in there. It's an obstruction. By capturing all those early (sometimes terrible) ideas, we are continually clearing them out of the way. Then, we can push past them and get to the really good stuff.
Bad ideas open up dialogue
Some of our design counterparts may question the next step in our design process (I would have 10 years ago). We show our clients all of our concept work—the great ideas and the dead ends. They see the good, the bad, and the ridiculous. And they see them in sketch form so we can all focus on concept before we worry about execution.
This is an exciting and fun part of our design process for all. We break the ice and laugh at the weird things that have come out on the paper. It’s these conversations that open up honest dialogue. We also talk about which concepts have the most potential, and what we're recommending. As we talk deeper about these, we work together to find the best direction for your brand.
Permission to speak freely
Sharing all those unusable ideas is also a way for us to get on the same page. A lot of folks have never worked with a designer before, and may hesitate to speak their mind. It may feel like design is this mysterious concept that you don’t feel qualified to speak about (auto repair is like this for me). The thing is, we need your expertise, and we need you to speak your mind. You are the expert when it comes to your organization—without your full input, our effectiveness is limited.
So, when we share our weird, scribbly work, we reveal ourselves as the normal people we are. We are experts, but we aren’t some aloof design judges up on a podium. We’re service providers looking for frank, honest discussion so that we can deliver an awesome end result.
From a pile of scribbles to flawless branding
Although this process might seem messy, the mess is vital to delivering the finished product. We get rid of all the overused, obvious, silly, and just plain bad ideas (some might call them crap—we often do) and find the right way forward. We nail the concept, and THEN focus on execution in the final phases of our work.
Ultimately, the process of designing your brand should be educational, interesting, and fun. We can laugh together at the bad ideas while we get rid of the smoke and mirrors. Design isn’t magic—it’s the product of hard work and process. There’s no place for ego in our work, which is why we’re so transparent about how we do this.
Need help sorting through your own branding ideas? Let’s talk about it.