Beast Creative is all about the design process. Our team works together to create and strategize on each project that comes our way. We are frequently asked what our graphic design process is by potential and current clients, so we thought we would share. Here are the steps we follow for a solid process to get our final designs looking beastly:
- Creative Brief
- Discovery & Research
- Message Brainstorming
- Sketching Mockups
The first critical step of the design process is to chat with the client and get a “brief” overview of what is needed. We gather information about our partners’ expectations, mission, vision and goals.
The creative brief is the foundation of the project. If you don’t understand what your client is looking for, the whole message or idea can be misunderstood. The questions you ask should help you figure out what the client is looking for. Canva has a great template on the types of questions you can ask – which will of course, vary depending on the project.
Discovery & Research
Once we have the brief from the client, discovery and research takes place. This step includes research on competitors, the market, audience, trends, and future prospects. The purpose of research and discovery is to give us a 360° overview of the clients’ environment to generate ideas that fit the market, industry trends, and the customer.
You should have a list of competitors that you got a hold of during the brief with your client. If not, email/call/text/DM your client and get that list ASAP. There are several ways to see what the competitors are up to:
- Google – the most obvious answer. Google the competitor and see what they’re up to. Who’s talking about them? Are they getting any press? Are they advertising on Google?
- Use tools like Buzzsumo to see what content works best for them
- Further analyze the competitors’ websites with similarweb.com and find other similar sites
- Read their blogs
- Check their social media channels
- Sign up for their emails to always keep an eye on what content they’re producing
During the brief, you should also have an understanding of your client’s customer and target market. In researching the competitors, you should see what their customers are engaging with the most, and what’s working for the competitors and what may need some improvement. You might be able to take a similar approach and make it better.
The brainstorming process allows creative exploration on how different elements can work together to support the message. Each element is considered during this step to ensure that every element of the design is sending out a message to the audience, from colors and typography to the tagline and art. Ideas are tossed around (and out) during this step.
Find some inspiration. You can use amazing sites like Dribbble, Pinterest, or Designspiration to find ideas – just make sure that the ideas you’re looking for relate to, or can be connected to the project’s main idea/message.
Throw out all of your ideas, your team’s ideas and your client’s if they provided any. No idea is “dumb” or too small, because those ideas can turn into your “aha! moment”. From there, take a step back and look at the ideas and decide which ones to keep and which ones to throw out the window. Then, narrow it down – review your creative brief, the overall goal and message of the product and pick out an idea. This process may not happen in an hour. If you need to step away for a bit – do it! Do not overthink and do not stress yourself out by staring at your computer/whiteboard for 5 hours.
In this step, rough sketches of your idea are drawn out. We bring out the ol’ paper and pencil and put them to work so that we are able to quickly iterate rough designs. We then choose a few sketches that we think fit the message and branding well and head to the computer. The sketches are then mocked-up and refined so that they are presentable and the idea can be understood.
Once we have quenched our creative exploration, we share the sketches with the client. Sharing sketches early on enables us to save an immense amount of time on both sides and ensures that we are headed in the right direction.
Sketching on paper and pencil is the best. If you have an iPad, Goodnotes is a great alternative to get the paper and pencil feel, but in a tech-savvy way. Sketch out your ideas and then flesh them out on the design program of your choice. We love using Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop. If you’re not a designer, Adobe Spark or Canva are great alternatives that already have pre-made templates that you can use. Your design does not have to be perfect, that’s why it’s called a mockup. Wireframes are super helpful in figuring out how the layout of your project should flow. Moodboards can help with an overall sense of the theme, colors, typography, and images that your project is going to include.
We like to show the client our wireframe or mockup during this process to make sure that we are on the right track. This can avoid 10 million revisions later on.
We are finally in our favorite stage of the design process, building the design! The Beast team gets busy with our design software and starts cranking out the agreed upon design from earlier in the sketching process. During this step, we refine the design, mix and match color palettes, typographic pairings and structure layouts.
When the design is complete, we first review and edit within the Beast team to make sure that the message and branding is evident, the design is aesthetically pleasing, and any other creative elements are tweaked/added. After the Beast team reviews the design, we then send a draft to the client for feedback, edits and approval.
As mentioned above, we use Adobe Creative Cloud as our choice of design programs. Whether we use Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects or another program, depends on the type of project we are working on. Most of the time, we’re going back and forth between a couple of Adobe’s programs.
This step can take the longest, and will probably be the most frustrating. Waiting on clients for feedback and going through many revisions is the norm for most designers. Patience is key my friend. And sometimes, it might be best to put your foot down because you are the expert, or in other cases, you might have to part ways – but that’s a whole other blog.
Presenting the Final Design
In the last step of the design process, the final design is polished and prepared to send to the client or any third party vendors. Fundamental formats of the project are delivered such as PDF, JPG, PNG, EPS and so on, depending on the scope of the project. We provide special instructions if necessary and bid adieu to our final product and wait to see it out in the real world!
I mean if you got this far in the process, you should know how to export your files to the right formats for your clients. But if you must know, during your creative brief or you just being the beastly design expert that you are, final design formats depend on the project and needs of the client.
We know that processes are not the most sexy topics, but they’re needed. Think of it this way, a “nerdy” process will help your designs (and you) look extremely attractive. We hope that these tips help you, because they definitely work for us. Shoot us an email or slide into our DM’s on social to share your thoughts and what other steps you implement in your graphic design process.