Creative Process

How Does a Creative Process Help?

The goal of a creative process in graphic design is to channel time, energy and creativity in a direction that is in line with a particular project’s needs. By its nature, creativity can be hard to harness into a predictable and linear set of stages, but it is of enormous value to do so. A good creative process for logo design and branding greatly improves the opportunity for a successful outcome in a reasonable time frame. The creative process defines and controls costs, time, effort, direction, responsibility, expectations, conversation, collaboration, and goals. Without a creative process, you are shooting at a target in the dark.

When developing a brand identity, it’s hard to predict how the creative process will go, but it is essential that every identity goes through all of the stages. An identity must be checked against goals, be refined and questioned. Graphic designer and client must be allowed time to reflect. On rare occasions, an idea generated during the initial client meeting may be the best solution, but it must be validated through a structured process to ensure it is in line with the project goals and has long-term value. Often, phases overlap, sometimes the order changes, but this never alters the need to go through the creative process as a whole.

We Both Have Responsibilities

A creative process works best if responsibilities are clear from the beginning. My responsibility throughout a project is to ask the right questions, define the creative problem, and visualize a solution. The client’s responsibility is to provide the requested information and feedback in a clear, timely, and honest way.

Words Before Visuals

I spend a lot of time analyzing the information given by a client. Along with additional research, it is distilled into mind maps and by using a dictionary and thesaurus, a lexicon for the project is created. Focusing on words rather than visuals at the beginning of a project is a more efficient method of narrowing focus. Mind mapping allows all the information to appear in one place, exposing gaps or differences in thinking, the mind map helps to define the “creative problem” and the path to the “solution.” Before any visuals are designed, a written creative direction is developed using this information, approved by the client, and then used to guide the remainder of the process.

Where Does the Time Go?

All projects are unique and the amount of time spent on the different tasks varies. I estimate that on average, 10% of the time is dedicated to customer care and management, 40% on research, 45% on design, and 5% on production. It is important to remember the client is paying for a solution and not the actual time that is spent on the particular project. Creativity has a mind of its own and I talk about this in more detail in Why Design Can’t be Billed by the Hour.

Gather, Analyze, Visualize, Repeat.

My process in its highest level: gather –> analyze –> visualize –> gather –> analyze –> visualize . . . —> delivery The creative process I use is repetitive and narrows the focus over its timeline. As information is gathered, assessed, and visualized, the space in which the solution can be found, narrows. Collecting the right information and determining that it is in line with the goals, is key to every step of a successful design process. Every project I take on moves through the creative process in its own way. You can see examples of specific examples in my portfolio. If you have any questions, please let me know.

A Simple View of the Creative Process Structure:

Gather: Armed With Purpose, research, creative brief
Analyze: Mind mapping and validation of information
Visualize: Sketching, roughs and preliminary design concept deck(s)
Gather: Conversation and feedback on preliminary design concept deck(s)
Analyze: Validation of feedback/information
Visualize: Refined design concept deck
Gather: Conversation and feedback on refined design concept deck
Analyze: Approval or validation of feedback/information
Delivery: Delivery of final files

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