The Nature of the Beast: Inspiration

I felt like I needed to expand on my last post a bit- I honestly feel like talking about feedback without mentioning how to gather, and talk through, inspiration, is like trying to show people what it’s like to drink water without offering a cup first– totally helpful. Basically, without insightful inspiration backed up by clear explanations as to why it’s inspiring, the potential for disaster in terms of design- especially branding, increases ten fold. Now I know that this is difficult- even without working on branding, even DESIGNERS (yes, we glorious bunch) have a REALLY hard time with articulating feedback. My college critiques were painful, people. Laborious, draining – “Oh.. you know, like.. it’s not THERE, but it’s like.. close? I don’t know, like, you know”, and I pretty much quote and end quote there.

Working with as many different people as I could ever imagine, I strive to be as fluid and as empathetic as possible when trying to read through client’s FAQ’s and inspiration folders. I’ve probably had to evolve this part of the process what feels like a hundred times throughout my time here with Flosites, but with each round of fine tuning, the better and better the results. What started out as a quick read through from the FAQ has now been loved into a fully fledged process, involving a far more in depth questionnaire, an image inspiration hunting process, and what’s looking to be the newest addition: a conceptual word list, meant to give the designer a stronger insight to the tastes and personality of the client. But it’s still difficult, and there will inevitably be more flaws in the system. Seeing a whole folder of images, or even getting 100 words in a word list will still leave room for interpretation as to how each particular concept, direction, whatever, is applied; and it’s because every single person is 100% unique. I’ve referenced the fact that I’ve had clients at the same time, send me over some of the exact same images as reference, and yet the end result of the process is like night and day.

What better way to hammer my point across, than to lay it all out here, case study style, so here goes.

And the final results; after a few rounds of tweaks (of course!):

These images are a pretty solid sampling of both ladies’ inspiration folders, while the color palettes may differ, the overall feel presented here is the same: clean, bold, fresh with some sort of modern and romantic flair. From a designer’s perspective, this is still pretty wide open visual wise- how we get to the end product is really not mapped out at this point. All that’s laid out, and that is tentatively laid out at best, is a clean-lined font- most likely sans serif, with a breezy, playful, casually high end element. How do I fill in those blanks? Why the client’s feedback, of course! The thing about the inspiration, visually or verbally, is that it’s all the possibilities and suggestions. Showing each look and feel with the client’s name/info/next round of feedback will help show the client if that’s the right direction, or if a new one is to be determined. None of the inspiration will be “perfect” or “exactly right” because it hasn’t been created yet. The client and designer create the perfection together.

For me, these problems really feel like mad libs, “Photography Company X needs a brand. It needs to feel (adjective), (adverb), with a dash of (adjective), communicating overall the desired feeling of (noun/adjective)”. I could spend all day and night adding in different dashes of this and that to make things different, but those aren’t really brands for clients. Those are different doodles and hypotheticals for me.. and maybe other people who want templated things, but not a solidly designed, results-yielding-I-paid-a-lot-of-money-for-this-brand, brand. And thats why I turn it around on the client. I know they put their heart and souls into their work, as anyone who is passionate should. I in turn, pour my heart and soul into my work- which as it turns out, is crafting brands and such for other companies. Which is why I will spend hours, days, months, finessing my approach and process, to not only help me create awesome brands that as a designer I can boast about all day, but help make the client’s side easier. So that when we have a meeting to discuss things, they feel prepared, understood, and that they have a team of people wanting to help them through this sticky situation of branding; and the better the client feels, the better the brand will be.

Until next time!
xo,
jne

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