Following the design research explained in part 2, let’s now get into the exploration of design solutions. This part of the process is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking, because it’s all problem and no solution yet. But after working for many years as a designer, one gets used to it and even enjoys it.

Arriving at design solutions, for me at least, first involves pencil sketches. I shy away from the computer when the exploring begins, not wanting to get caught in the details, instead focusing just on ideas. The goal is to uncover as many ideas as possible.

The sketching allowed me to see that some solutions could involve a wordmark-only logo (without a symbol), so concurrently I began a type exploration. It’s always important to find a typeface that reflects not just the brand attributes, but also stages the brand name well.

The next step is to begin a different round of sketching, this time on the computer. Many pencil sketch ideas may show potential, but the only way to find out if “they have legs” is to try creating them digitally.

Always in the back of my mind during this exploration phase was what I had promised in the proposal to show during the first presentation:

  • Explore a range of concepts for the core signature, which may include symbology, wordmarks and logotypes
  • Explore corresponding look & feel concepts, addressing elements such as: color palette, typeface usage, image style, graphic layout style, iconography
  • Create two-dimensional prototypes to enable us to assess each concept’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of real-world applications: business card, 2-page data sheet, PowerPoint cover and text slide, brochure covers. (Prototypes are not working templates, but rather mock-ups that stage the design)
  • Present 3 concepts and their respective prototypes.

My aim was getting to three distinct directions for the presentation, and give the client an array of options to choose from, as varied as possible from each other. After working on the computer for a while, I identified those logos I deemed strongest, not as stand-alones but with enough character to build a look & feel system around them.

Those look & feel systems required their own exploration, which meant going back to pencil before returning to the computer.

Overall this round of exploration before the first presentation can involve two or three weeks, maybe more depending on how many concepts are shown. The goal of the presentation is to pick one direction to move forward with, maybe with some refinements.

That’s exactly what happened in this case, with the added bonus that the client was torn choosing between them because he liked them all! But we identified pros and cons of each approach and landed on one, but with some minor refinements.

The proposal called for the design of specific applications, so we had a few more weeks devoted to rounds of design and presentation of stationery, presentation deck templates, collateral templates and other deliverables.

To find out how the identity looks, visit my portfolio.