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Why Concepts are not optional

Light Bulb

Many times in the life of the designer they feel tempted to work as make-up artists. It sometimes makes me wonder why having the power and know-how to create the entire body and soul, they seem pretty content with merely doing some superficial work on top of it. Even when they know or feel that what is underneath is nothing close to a solid foundation…

Don’t get me wrong: I come from a Design background myself and can assure I’ve done this in the past. It’s just that sometimes, the task is all about make-up. The so-called image refresh and re-branding are most often typical cases where designers work as stylists, not as creators. But most of these times, whatever we design -no matter how skillful or beautiful it is- will not last. I cannot help asking you and asking myself: why is that?

Well, here goes an analogy: if you were a parent, would you consider using a room full of moisture as your child’s bedroom? Even if you paint or cover the walls with the nicest, most inspiring and motivating pattern, you secretly know that the air is not clean, that there will very likely be bacteria and germs still left on those walls and ceiling… Would you seriously consider to turn it into your child’s bedroom? Seriously?* Let’s face it… we must think about and fix the structural part before we consider how to cover the surface. This structural part of every design, the roots over which we will build our house are nothing else but: concepts.

A concept is the overarching idea that will connect the needs of the client with the results we provide. A concept sets a clear direction to follow and defines the focus on every material to be produced by the design teams. A concept makes your work meaningful, turning your make-up into something more valuable to the world. Concepts are guiding stars that help us keep on the right track and avoid confusions during the implementation phase. Concepts are there to help us, to help you, to help the client… so stick to them when you have one! And if you don’t have one, then create one. They will make your life easier!

How to come up with concepts in 10 (easy) steps:

  1. Listen to the client.
  2. Even when you think you got it, listen again. There is always something more.
  3. Analyse background, context, past initiatives. Challenge and question your findings.
  4. Define objectives/goals you want to achieve.
  5. Find the gaps.
  6. Brainstorm ideas to close those gaps.
  7. Synthetise and simplify. Concepts must help, not make things harder.
  8. Pitch to client & get feedback.
  9. Revise when necessary (usually: always).
  10. Gain concensus and final approval. Voilà! You did it. Now you only have to implement it.

*If your answer is yes, then probably you might want to consider reading some other kind of article of much more relevance in your life -like for instance „How to take care of your children health“.

Image rights “Light BulbCC BY 2.0 Oisin PrendivilleFlickr: