By Sarah Smethurst

I’ve always said great design comes from great ideas. If you don’t have a solid idea or you’re struggling with what message you want to portray, you’re always going to end up with a diluted and weak final piece.

These are some of the steps I take to counteract these potential issues when designing pieces for our clients.

Research.
Firstly, I start by analysing the client’s brief and really trying to understand what they want to achieve. If I’m working with a new client or am unfamiliar with a particular sector I’ll always conduct thorough research first to see what styles, trends and competitors are currently in the market. This helps gain good knowledge and understanding of clients’ needs and wants, and identifies areas that could be developed to strengthen the client position within their market, thus creating successful and well-executed design whilst fulfilling client expectations.

Ideas.
Once I have a good understanding of the project I can then start to get creative and come up with initial ideas. I’m always collecting items of interest wherever I go and keep these strewn across my desk as a good source of inspiration. I find being surrounded by fabulous imagery and creative flair usually helps kick start the creative juices. Once I have a few ideas and I’m clear what message is going to be portrayed, I can then get started on the design.

Design.
Well this is the Pièce de résistance – The Design.

I find that once I have a design route, I can then start to look at the following.

  • Colours
  • Slogans / Taglines
  • Imagery
  • Typography
  • Layout
  • Copy

These elements can sometimes be completely open to interpretation or follow strict guidelines. If a client already has brand guidelines in place I will always take these into account and make sure that the piece I create adds to and strengthens their already existing brand image. If the client doesn’t have guidelines in place there is always a need to create a piece that looking to the future, can help build a strong and successful brand that will help differentiate and strengthen their business.

Cornerstone DM