Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The proliferation of advertising and communication messaging that bombards consumers on every page, screen and other available space is putting pressure on strategists and creatives in the world of brand design to create something truly new that will break through the clutter.

A solid and considered brand strategy is the foundation of every design project. It starts with immersion in the brand and continues with assessing the growth opportunities and defining the creative direction.

Each element ultimately defines the success of the total brand solution: research, ideation and concept explorations, decisions about the right logo type, crafting of the icon to embody the brand essence and experimentation with various colour combinations.

The process differs from agency to agency and even from creative to creative. Yet there is a common link in all creative processes: they require time and due diligence. And they all start on a blank page. The blank page is the key to bringing work that is creative and memorable to life.

The first vital step in the creative process happens long before we are briefed on a new project. It starts with being observant and curious in all spheres of the world – from the creative industry to news, politics, science & technology, socio-economics and pop culture.

Michael Wolff, founder of Wolff Olins, describes curiosity as the first step on the path to understanding. It’s the one step that allows us to dig deeper, to challenge conventional trains of thought and to try new solutions to common problems. Asking more questions and having a greater interest in the world and people around us provides insight into where opportunities exist. For this reason, a good strategic base is essential.

While the term “procrastination” – leaving things to the last minute and scrambling for solutions – is perceived as negative, it could be reframed as a process of allowing ideas and concepts to take root. New information and seemingly unrelated thoughts act as water and sunlight that feed the seed in the back of the mind. A period of incubation at the beginning of a project can be a good thing, especially when the blank page on your desk is staring at you, waiting for you to make the first mark of a new idea.

Often, the best solution comes when one is not actively thinking about it. A decent incubation period assists in the process of making unexpected leaps and thinking in non-linear ways. For example, artist Leonardo da Vinci worked on the Mona Lisa on and off for 16 years. That may be excessive in terms of time, but there is value in giving a creative team a “pre-crastinating” period before it starts working on a project.

Inspiration is another important component of the creative process. Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh in New York believes one should look beyond one’s own field for inspiration to avoid regurgitating the same styles and ideas that are happening in design. Instead, one can seek inspiration outside the world of graphic design, such as in fine arts or science.