David Airey is an independent graphic designer working with companies of all sizes since 2005.

The ideal design process?

I watched a good CreativeMornings video where Tom Foulkes and Michael Johnson talk process.

Michael included this flowchart overview of his brand identity design process.

Design process flowchart

“Meet, talk a lot, summary, talk a lot more, verbal brand, then write up a brief, do quite a lot of work, then present.”

During his (nearly) 20 years in business Michael has very rarely been in the situation where he presented just one idea and it was signed off by the client. This is one of those few designs where it did happen.

Shelter logo

“Sitting in the presentation I had the board one way round, turned it over as said, ‘What do you think?’ and they all said, ‘Yeah, it’s great.’”

Here’s a much more common presentation approach.

Design process flowchart

The best three options are presented (one safe, one adventurous, one scary — from a client perspective), a direction is chosen, developed, then signed off.

One of the best pieces of advice Michael has been given, before he started his own business, was to take the scary option and make it even scarier. That way, the original scary option suddenly seems safer, and more likely to be chosen. It’s those riskier, more polarising options that are often the most successful.

I’ve embedded the presentation below. Or you can watch it on Vimeo.

Worth your time.

Filmed and edited by Nick Culley.

Update: 29 October 2012
A more in-depth writeup has just been published on the johnson banks thought for the week.

My second book on Amazon

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5 appreciated comments about “The ideal design process?”

  1. Thanks again David…as usual, wonderful info for both newbies and seasoned professionals.

  2. I will definitely be taking the time to watch that creative mornings talk. Toms ideal design process seems to fit how I would imagine many others to go as well.

  3. Great thanks for sharing, David.

  4. They missed out the part in the diagram, after you show the client the solutions, where your head explodes because they want to see the designs “in a slightly cooler blue” or a “slightly warmer red”. Haha.

    Other than that, it’s a great workflow chart. I love the idea of showing a “safe, a borderline and a completely batty” solution. I might have to adopt that in my own work.

  5. Shelter’s logo is very effective yet so simple. That really is the essence of a great logo.

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