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How Many Concepts / Ideas?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by pealo86, Sep 1, 2015.

  1. pealo86

    pealo86 New Member

    This is mainly referring to logo design but could be applied to other areas of graphic design. I typically send over (at least) 3 different ideas, together with variations of each, so that my clients have more of a choice of what they prefer. I will then revise their favourite until they're happy with it. Each idea will be based on some kind of 'focal' keyword which will often be the main idea behind the concept... with other keywords to support it (which can determine, say, the colour palette or choice of typefaces).

    But recently I've wondered if it would make more sense to just stick to one main keyword / idea... and base all three logo concepts on that. So for example, all 3 ideas may be based on the idea of 'connections'... but communicated in different ways.

    Rather than say:
    So it might make more sense to involve clients more in the design process, so that everyone can agree on what kind of 'idea' should be behind the logo before anyone starts thinking about it visually. I imagine this could be done purely through research, client meetings, mind-mapping etc (maybe some sketches if necessary).

    I'm just thinking that will make everything go a lot smoother. Because sometimes I feel like I'm forcing myself to come up with different ideas when really I should just be focusing on the one, but coming up with different ways to portray it visually

    How does everyone else go about it?
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  2. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    In short, I provide a few different (3/4) options to which they choose the one(s) they like. I then further develop their chosen logo design, which would be the part of my design process that you are wondering if you should start at first.

    Communication with your clients is key for things to go smoothly, but I wouldn't settle on one idea from the jump, as they may not like it once they see your variations of the idea, they may decide to go in a completely different direction. Therefore you would have wasted time focusing on the one 'perfect' concept and then having to come up with other ideas anyway to which you could have done to begin with.

    The trick is in the first instance, design as many as you like, with different variations of fonts, colours, compositions etc, (not finished designs at this point, just ideas/drafts/visuals) but only present them with a few of your best to choose from. If they completely dismiss them, after discussion you may find one of your other ideas better fits their criteria, to which you can amend and present as an additional idea.

    Bare in mind you should agree a set amount of revisions beforehand so that you don't end up in limbo.

    Another thing, you shouldn't really have to tell them what each logo represents, it should be clear for all to see and interpreted the same in a clear, precise way. If not you have just come up with a piece of artwork, as opposed to a logo design. By all means explain you ideas but everything else should be easily understood.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  3. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    When I was starting out, I used to put everything I had into a single design and then dash off some inferior variations, a) just to look like I was providing options, but b) in the (occasionally-misguided) knowledge that the half-arsed stuff would help bring the client around to my way of thinking. Inevitably, I found myself being asked to spend time on stuff I was unconvinced by or was asked to produce a mish-mash of clashing ideas. I still maintain, however, that the first flush of creativity often produces the best work, so now I offer up one design but regard it more as a starting point for discussion and clarification (with the offer of a total rethink if required but I find that I'm usually somewhere near the mark). I know it goes against the grain a bit but I'm always upfront about my way of working and it saves a ton of time.
    Paul Murray likes this.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    This is what I do. I present one idea to a client that I think ticks all the boxes of the brief and then open it up for discussion. If you present too many ideas to a client, then they'll start wanting to pick and choose between them, which I find often doesn't work as each identity has been considered separately. It can also eat up your time too, especially if you're not working hourly.

    I find if you can sum up your idea in a single sentence and the client likes it, then that's a good starting point too. This design came from a phone call with the client where I suggested "angel wings made from knives" which the client liked. They didn't like the initial few ideas but eventually we found an approach that they felt was right for their business, but still stuck to that one idea.
  5. pealo86

    pealo86 New Member

    Thanks for the tips!

    Interesting... so the phone call you had with your client, was this prior to starting work on any designs? And the 'initial few ideas' that they didn't like, were these still based around the 'angel wings made from knives' concept?
  6. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, the client had a small budget, so I suggested we decide on a visual concept before starting any design work to avoid going over budget straight away. It ensured I knew what I'd be designing, and we also had a concept that the client could visualise and liked the idea of.

    The identity in my portfolio is actually one of the first concepts I presented that the client didn't like*. She felt it represented chopping too much which isn't what her business focuses on. Her business also includes waiting on, table setting, etc, so we tweaked the identity to include other utensils. She also felt the retro-feel she was initially leaning towards was portraying a cheaper feel than her target market would like so we went back to a cleaner, more formal style.

    This ( is essentially the final identity. Although it's quite a change from the initial idea, the concept is still there.

    *I included this version in my portfolio because I felt the final identity was too similar to previous work I'd done.
    pealo86 likes this.
  7. pealo86

    pealo86 New Member

    Ahh I see! That all makes sense, and seems to be the best route to take when budgets are tight.

    I'm now thinking that, rather than me choosing *either* the single or multiple concepts route from here on, it might make more sense to simply treat each job differently and see which method is more suitable depending on the client I'm working with.
  8. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    I'd suggest if you're offering more than one option then there should be a reason for doing so. Otherwise (if you're presenting 3 ideas for example) 2/3 of your time will have been wasted and you run the risk of diluting each of them or overwhelming the client. There's also the chance that the client will pick the weaker design simply because they prefer something about that one.

    The key is to have a clear brief written out that the client agrees details what they want which you can refer back to. Without a brief you're throwing ideas around and hoping one sticks. It's better to present one solid idea that clearly answers the brief, than 3 weaker options, one of which you'll still have to develop further.

    At the sketching/ideas stage then offering a number of options is obviously worthwhile to get a feel for what the client likes or try differing approaches, but once you're at the stage where you're working up a design to a more polished stage I'd argue you should only be working on one option and putting 100% of your effort into that. Otherwise the clock is ticking away and eating into your profits (design is a business don't forget).

    The only time I'll present more than one idea is if the client has asked for something specific that I don't feel is the best option. In that situation I'll give them what they want but also present them with my idea that I think is a better option (along with rationale why). They may not like it, but at least you tried. :)
  9. pealo86

    pealo86 New Member

    Thanks! That all sounds good.

    Agreed about the sketching/ideas stage (e.g. showing multiple options before then choosing one to make more polished), that's kind of what I was getting at with my original post.

    Just to clarify, when you say 'one idea'... do you still mean sending over the same 'idea' but communicated in different ways? E.g. with your knives logo earlier. Or do you send over just one image for the client to view?

    I think this is a very tricky topic to discuss as it's hard to find the right words to determine between the 'idea' and the 'image' that you're sending over, if that makes sense! haha
  10. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    Truth is there is no real answer, it is all relative to the individual (designer), brief and budget. You just have to work in the most efficient and profitable way for you. Of course if you are dealing with client with a small budget you are not going to provide multiple options, as you simply would not have time to, unless you don't mind losing money due to time spent.

    For me, in all cases, once I get to my 'further development' stage of my design process, I am only focusing and working on one design, this one design ultimately becomes the final logo design once it has been fully developed etc.

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