Often the start of a project can be the most critical point, because it’s right here at the very beginning, in all of the excitement of a fresh new project, where you’re most likely to go wrong.

The temptation is to jump straight into the project – especially if you have an exciting idea in your head. Occasionally this will work out fine, and you will feel like a genius, with on-demand access to divine inspiration.

The other nine times out of ten, however, you will quickly start to feel lost in the project, and become overwhelmed, losing confidence in the approach you’ve taken. Eventually you are likely face a choice of whether to continue down this blind avenue, scrabbling around for ideas to salvage your original progress, or just start again from scratch, feeling thoroughly demoralised.

Getting the creative process right

Avoiding the blind alley

The key to any successful project is to fight the urge to jump straight in, and to spend time planning, researching and thinking at the very start of the process.

This is far from easy to do. Most creative people love the thrill of getting started on something new, because this stage is full of endless possibilities. Taking the time to slow down and put in the time to planning and concepting can make a massive difference, however.

Another issue is that, in many cases, the pressure is on time. Clients tend to want things done quickly – and may not appreciate the need to allow ideas to simmer and develop. Adding space into the creative process really can make a huge difference, however.

If you, as a client, expect your designer to dive straight in, and start delivering on a short deadline, chances are they are not going to have time to properly approach the project, and the quality of the work may be severely compromised as a result.

Our creative process

Here is the process that we use on our creative projects. We spend time here before we begin the meat of the work, to develop the fundamental ideas.

This way, we generate a clear sense of our objectives, and have a sense of our destination, and what will constitute success. We can evaluate whether we are moving in the right direction at all times, and stop to tweak things if we’re not.

Doing this as early as possible, saves time later in the process, and ensures that we can move forward in a united way.

1. Uncover the problem

Diving into a problem without really understanding the specific issue you’re trying to solve, is swimming blind. It’s an essential part of the process to invest some time into research and gaining knowledge about the client, and what they actually need.

Occasionally, what the client thinks they want may not actually be the best solution, or the most elegant solution. So it’s important to include the client in this process, and work to reach the root of the problem. It may also be the time to – respectfully – challenge the client and be persuasive about the real problem at hand.

Once we have a shared understanding of the task at hand, we can begin.

2. Brainstorming and moodboarding

Now we’re moving in the right direction, we can begin to clarify things we want to focus on, and set some directions and creative limitations.

Brainstorming is still one of the best ways to get ideas out quickly, and see the connections between ideas and thoughts. It’s a great way to get your mind ticking over, and processing the available ideas and materials.

Often you’ll find you make new connections during this process, or can at least identify the important elements of the process.

A moodboard or stylescape is then a great way to see what other people are doing, and establish some visual rules and ideas. A moodboard gathers together ideas and inspiration and helps us to set the tone of the work, and to stay in the right visual space as competitors.

It also gives the client an idea of the direction of our thinking.

3. Pitch it to the client – Collaborate

No matter how much research we do, we’re still never going to know the client’s brand as well as they do.

That’s why we want to get their input as much as possible, and to ensure that they have their say.

Many designers will begin a project, and then sink hours of work into it, tweaking and perfecting, only to find that the client doesn’t actually like the overall idea, and would like to try something new.

By bringing the client into the process early on, we can ensure that everyone believes in the project. We can save time, and we can design and create with confidence, knowing that we are all on the same page.

4. Now we’re all on the same page, we can begin

Having put in a little extra work at the start of the creative process, we can now begin making progress with confidence and a clear route forward.

We can move through the process with a shared visual language, and an idea of our destination, thanks the the brainstorming and moodboarding.

The results of this stage are unlikely to be a shock to the client, as we have included them, and so they are likely to be happier with the final product.

We can then continue to present and amend until everyone is happy with the outcome.

This process can make a huge difference to the quality of a product, and also prevent time from beign wasted by going too far down wrong avenues.

This is why we think it’s important to build extra time into projects, to allow ideas to come and to be refined before plunging in.

Is this how you like to work, or do you do something different? Let us know below, we would love to hear from you.


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The Psychology of Colours in Branding
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Until next time,