As you may or may not know, the design process of developing concepts is non-linear. In-fact, it should never be approached in a linear way, nor should you take short-cuts to get the easy and most obvious outcome. Designers love to think laterally and create clever concepts and solutions that look effortless.

When faced with a design challenge and new brief there are many useful techniques that designers can employ to generate ideas no matter how absurd and out-there they may seem. The interesting bit comes then comes when we make connections from these crazy ideas back to the brief…

So, here we go…

1. Digest the brief

When faced with a brief from a client it is best to thoroughly read the content, digest it and extract key messages and concepts. The quickest way to do this is highlight key words and phrases that sum up the feel of the project, all of which can form a basis to start your development from.

2. Mind map

Now you can start to mind map/ brain storm. Get a blank sheet of paper and scribble away, this encourages a vast quantity of ideas and allows your seemingly random thoughts to begin to take some shape. Place the topic in the centre of a blank landscape page and write around it with whatever springs to mind. You will quickly start to develop concepts and see where the links between one part of your idea can link to another. Drawing links and highlighting words that stand out helps to see areas that you can then focus on further.

3. Key words

Choose three key words that really stand out from the brief or from your idea generation and create a word association list – using a thesaurus can really help with this. These will help to shape the theme of your design and they will be a reference point throughout the whole creative process. These must be visual words so you can draw inspiration from them. It’s not something that comes easily at first, but once you get into it, you can see that if they are visual words then it will help to focus and shape the design.

4. Define, Describe & Visualise

This is a great technique to visualise abstract concepts and with each key word you can begin to play around with how the design may express these ideas.

5. Research

Research is critical to the success of the design solution and it helps your design process to develop. It helps to clarify and fully understand the client, the brief and the demographic. The more you know, the more creative your ideas will be!

6. Moodboards

Create specific mood-boards for each aspect of the design to help focus your ideas. Remind yourself of who the demographic is, choose a direction and use your research and any images you have collected with design references. Be focused with these mood boards and make sure they apply to your key words – if it doesn’t, then don’t put it on. Less is more!

7. Evaluate

Look at it from every perspective possible and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your ideas. Go back to the brief and take stock of what you are doing. Play the devil’s advocate and look for any holes in the idea, and question everything! Ask for other opinions and get a fresh perspective.

8. Application

Now this is the fun bit! You’ve done all the hard work you should have a clear direction of how to design your outcome. Keep referring back to the mood-boards and key words and ensure you stay true to your concept. Create lots of ideas and be patient – interesting results require perseverance – you can do it!

If you’re looking for some more inspiration for your brand or designs, then check out our recent case studies here– thanks for reading!