Turning Design Research Into Creative Concepts

This summer, I had the privilege of working with some amazing, local nonprofits on a variety of branding projects. I designed logos for three new fundraising events and rebranded two established organizations. I really enjoy the process of creating a unique visual identity, from learning about their cause to implementing designs at various touchpoints.

Early in the process, I focus on ‘problem finding’ and discovery research. This can take many forms: talking to board members about their current situation, mission, vision and core values, conducting a competitive analysis, and doing visual research. After sketching ideas and exploring typefaces, digital comps are created. I try to present clients with a range of options during the first round of proofing, as seen in these examples. Translating research into creative concepts is my absolute favorite part of the process!

I love discussing options with clients and helping them select the ones that best meet their needs. Once initial feedback has been gathered, then the logos are narrowed down and a few of the designs are refined. This may include cleaning up artwork, exploring color options, and adjusting the composition. After the chosen logo is approved, then it’s finalized and brand guidelines are developed.

The comps in this post were for the Conquistador Festival, One Heart One America, the Flagler Playhouse, and the Florida National Guard Foundation.

Why didn’t I think of that?

While strolling along the riverfront in downtown Wilmington, NC about a year ago, my husband and I passed a unique Bed & Breakfast. This was not your traditional B&B in the southeast. It wasn’t a historic, two-story Victorian home. Heck, it wasn’t even a building. It was a boat! Pretty clever, eh?

The owner simply combined two existing products — a sunset cruise and a B&B. It’s similar to the innovative product that came about when Nike and Apple got together to create the Nike + iPod Sport Kit. Genius!

All of this reminds me of the William Plomer quote: “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected”. I’ve actually noticed that most of the designers I know have this skill — the ability to make connections or see patterns.

So, here’s an exercise: Brainstorm creative ideas by connecting two or more things that seem really different. After personally doing this, I want to open a cafe that sells surfboards with song lyrics on them! What did you come up with?