Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video First steps, part of Foundations of Layout and Composition: Marketing Collateral.
Like the lyrics of that song, let's start at the very beginning. Before I begin designing anything, I need to make sure I have all the elements I need. When I sit in a meeting, I sometimes hear the assignment and immediately begin to solve the problem with typography, shapes, images and color. But, I can't do that until I have all the information. Otherwise, I might create something entirely wrong for that project. I need to know first, what the message is. This is the idea and concept.
Being pretty alone, is like nice frosting on a terrible cake. I want to determine what I'm saying. Whom I am saying it to, and how they get the message. Getting to the right message takes time and collaboration. I work with my client to learn as much as possible about his or her business, audience, and what makes them unique. I have heard of designers walking into a meeting and saying, I know your business, this is what you should do. But I will never know my client's world as well as they do.
So, I spend time with them, and try to really hear what they're saying. I also want to pin down the target audience. It can't be everyone in the world. And then I rough out a list of items that might be needed. Once I've arrived at the right message, target audience, and possible items to design, I begin designing an overall look and feel. This will likely include a logo, color palette, typographic palette, materials, and image treatment.
This is your kit of parts, that can be recombined in multiple ways, but always have the same spirit. You might find that you need to add more colors to the palette, or subtract some as you start on individual items, or the typography doesn't work when it's too small. That's fine. The kit of parts is meant to evolve as you work with it. Design is a process of give and take. Allow yourself the freedom to make changes. You may choose a color for the system, and then the client decides he or she hates it when they see it on the letterhead.
Or you may use Helvetica and be sick to death of it because it's just too dull. The point here is to not create a system that allows you no room and you can't budge. The point is to create a unique and proprietary look that, that solves a message and addresses it in a unique way.
- Deciding on the media for your message
- Defining your target audience
- Setting the budget
- Writing and placing copy
- Choosing paper and printing
- Formatting a brochure
- Designing letterhead, business cards, and envelopes
- Creating posters and media kits
- Designing specialty items like holiday cards