Ever wonder why the design industry standard is to present three concepts?
In fact, there is no real reason to present several concepts. So I gave the ‘one concept approach’ a try on a recent conceptual project and I’m not going back. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s dive into the traditional process.
The Traditional Process
In a nutshell, the designer spends time conceptualizing the client’s logo. Then, the designer gets a moment of clarity for the ideal logo for the client. Following the industry standard, the designer has to create and present two other average logos. The designer creates a PDF with only the logos and no context of how the logo looks. Finally, the designer gets frustrated with the process when the client picks the average logo or worse, asks to combine the concepts.
This process is problematic for the client for many reasons:
The Appearance of Subjectivity
Giving a client multiple logos is unfortunately a great disservice. When the client is presented with several logos without context, the client has to use their imagination. Not to mention, the client is forced to choose because they are placed in this overwhelming situation. As a result, they will rely on being subjective. Clients end up falling back on subjective phrases like ‘I’m not keen’ and ‘it’s nice’. Subjectivity gets in the way and the client doesn’t consider what is best for the client’s audience.
The Frankenstein’s Creature
What is a Frankenstein design? Simply put, Frankenstein design means that elements from multiple concepts are combined to become a new concept. When taking elements from each concept, not only dilutes the new concept, it lacks cohesion and ends up looking like a patchwork that doesn’t respect the original intent.
Now I get it. As a client, you might feel the need to take a more active role in the process. However, subjectivity and frankensteining do not help the project. Instead, they act as roadblocks and erode the creative process. So what is the solution?
Enter the One Concept Approach
The One Concept Approach is when the designer presents one option that is the strongest and focused option. However, there is a process to get to the strongest option. By using this method, we avoid choice paralysis and the problems mentioned earlier.
Let’s Begin With A Brand Strategy
First off, the client receives a comprehensive questionnaire that goes over the client’s business, audience and ethos, just to name a few. To give you an idea, my questionnaire contains a minimum of 30 questions in order to get to know my client. This questionnaire serves as the foundation of the project, much like the foundation of a house. It’s normal that the designer and client spend time on this step in order to get to know each other. After all, this is a collaborative process. After the questionnaire and initial meeting, the designer gets to work on drafting a brand strategy. This document includes a summary of the questionnaire answers, meeting insights, moodboard and colour scheme. The Brand Strategy serves as a base so that the designer and the client are aligned on the direction of the brand.
What You Get AKA The Deliverables
‘Do I get only one logo?’ Yes, however, your brand is not a just logo. The logo is one of the touchpoints of your brand. Although the logo is the most recognizable, it’s not the only element that makes up the brand. The client will receive a Concept Presentation document that contains the following brand elements with explanations:
– Primary logo: The main logo used in most situations.
– Secondary logo: Alternate logo that can be used.
– Marks: Additional elements for the brand.
– Colour palette: About 3 to 5 colours are used on marketing materials.
– Pattern: Used on the packaging, and marketing material.
– Font Pairing: Combination of fonts used on the website or documents.
In addition, the brand is presented in context. In order to envision the brand in real-world applications, the designer will utilize mockups. Mockups of the brand elements will appear on marketing materials like business cards, stationary and social media interfaces, to name a few.
Feedback Welcomed…With Guidance
After the designer presents the concept, the client can provide feedback, if needed. If the first concept is off base, the designer guides the client on what is effective and ineffective feedback. Effective feedback should be honest and must have the client’s audience in mind. Also, why some brand aspects don’t resonate with the audience that can be approved is important. This process includes two rounds of refinements.
With the one concept approach, we focus on quality, not quantity. After all, as the designer, I’m hired to solve a problem and provide a solution, not options. And with the one method, this method is a holistic and well rounded approach to brand identity creation. I should mention that it’s advised to start this process early as the one concept method or any creative endeavour takes time. Branding done right leads to better connections with your audience.
P.S. Many thanks to Bre from Rowan Made for introducing me to this concept via her online course.