What is graphic design?
For a start, what is graphic design? It is a craft of solving problems through visual language. It could be done through typography, photography or an illustration.
Graphic design is not a logo, poster or a website. It is all that happens behind it. If you designed a poster because you feel inspired to draw something to hang on your wall, it is art, not graphic design.
Defining the function
Every website needs to do certain function like navigating users through the information. The logo design needs to express certain feelings and values to build awareness and trust with people. The wayfinding system in the mall needs to clearly show you the directions.
Each design has a specific function that depends on the medium, its audience and the messages we want to show. We should know right on the beginning what will be the function that we will be working on.
What do you have to offer?
It is important to understand what is that you are selling or what service are you offering. I need to try it and feel all the values that you are trying to show. Every business has something that people need. What is it and why do they need it? What problems is the product solving for people? What emotional response are we getting?
It is hard to step back and think: “Why am I doing this?”. Everyone needs to make a profit. It is a very important part of any business. But if you are doing it only for money, your clients will know it. Thinking back about your values and mission can help you and you make a product that has a good value.
It is also good to have a good story to tell. Sharing real stories brings you closer to your clients. A good story will easily transfer to a slogan and mission statement.
What is the goal?
When we start a new business there are many things that we want to do from hiring new people, opening an office to making a logo design.
It is good to step back and write down one goal before starting any design process. Here are a few examples of the goals that I have worked with:
- Building trust
- Gaining more exposure
- Building awareness
Goals that we can measure more precisely in numbers are the second part of work and belong on the marketing side of the project. It could be:
- More engagement on social media
- More subscribers to the email list
- Start product sales
It is important to list it before any design work is done so that the project has a focus and a goal that we can evaluate at the end. Each goal should be also turned into an action plan with smaller steps and a deadline.
Based on that goal you can have clear agreement on deliverables, deadline and the price.
When clients first come to me they often start telling me what designs they like and how they imagine their product to work. It is hard to separate yourself from your own needs and taste to what your users actually need.
Every design process starts with the discovery phase. After testing the products or service it is necessary to make a research that could take from a few days to months, depending on the size of the company.
It is essential to research the current market trends, competition, and users. It will be a different job to sell a book for children than for adults.
After analyzing all the research it is time to position your product or service. Will you have high pricing but good valuable product? Maybe you will be selling more items but at a lower price?
If there are many competitors, how can you differentiate yourself? Positioning helps to understand, where will your business make more profit and be of the most value to your clients. You will find the gap in the market and build the bridge between you and your audience.
It will be easier to decide whether it is best to be an expert, differentiate or if nothing tells you apart tell a compelling story.
Based on the research and positioning we will develop client personas. Who are we selling to and who do we want to sell to?
In order to make any type of design, you should know for who are you designing. Write down their demographics from the name to martial status. Empathising with your client makes you deliver a better product. Better product brings more sales.
Voice and feelings
Once you know where you want to be as a brand it is time to find out what tone of voice should you set. Will it be loud and clear? Or gentle and supportive? Should it be fun or serious? Feminine or masculine?
It is important to decide on the look and feel before designing the final piece. It will help avoid unnecessary revisions and long delivery time.
After all those steps are done we can finally get to design. Brainstorming ideas at this stage is very easy with the good research behind us and clear goals. If the process is done well, there is less need for revisions and the overall quality is better.
Everyone can make a design but not everyone can do all the problem solving behind it. It is important to pick the right people on your team!