Raise your hand if you’ve ever suffered from “designer’s block”
Everyone knows what a writer’s block is.. but designer’s block is less discussed among the general public — or among designers themselves.
Designer’s block is when you have no idea what to design, no inspiration, and not the slightest idea how to start tackling the design challenge you have at hand.
There’s all kind of fun advice on how to tackle the designer’s block. And most of those focus on chasing the elusive inspiration. “Go for a walk” or “go to a museum.” All this is valid and can help if you know what you want to create.
But what about when you are 100% blocked, no idea what to start creating?
How to repel the designer’s block and always know what you should create?
My advice is: it’s not time to get creative, it’s time to get strategic.
What I mean by this is: there’s no point chasing inspiration if you don’t have a clear idea what you need to create. And to get the winning idea for what you need to create you need to look for the boundaries of your project.
If I ask you: “design me a logo, I have a coaching business,” this gives you too little information to understand what you need to design.
But if I ask you: “design me a logo, I have a coaching business and my clients are 20-30 years old first time moms who have difficulty of getting back to leadership roles at work after their maternity leave. The values of my business are: continuous improvement and momentum, emotional intelligence, and inclusivity. I want my brand to look and feel young, energetic, and fast moving — momentum without feeling hasty or being rushed. My slogan is: Big leaps towards your dreams. And while my brand is for young women and I want it to appeal to that demographic, it also has to feel credible and trustworthy because we are talking about people’s careers and livelihoods.”
Now you have much more to work on, right? You could start ideating: what are the colors that appeal young women? What fonts reflect credibility and maturity from the business side? What messages appeal to first time moms? What kind of design elements communicate constant improvement or forward motion and movement?
See how that works? We don’t go finding ideas aimlessly. We focus on the boundaries that define the focus for that design project, in this specific example: the brand strategy part.
Boundaries sound limiting. They can sound restricting. “But I’m a designer, I’m creative, and I need freedom,” you may think. But even freedom can become a cage if you don’t know what you’re after.
How brand strategy can guide your design work?
This is especially important with branding. Not only do you need to tackle the designer’s block, you also have to ensure the visual identity correctly represents and reflects the business behind it.
The great thing about branding is that if you follow the branding process and draft a meaningful brand strategy before jumping on the design part, you will have all the boundaries and guidelines you need for creating an authentic and appealing visual identity. (Or if your client has the strategy done prior to hiring you to do the design work.)
If you’re not a designer, but rather building a brand for yourself (or if you just have no clue how to create a brand strategy), no worries the right process will get you going in no time. The thing is: brand strategy is business strategy. If you have a business and you have thought about your audience, your offering, your competitors, and so on, you have the beginnings of a brand strategy. It’s really very common sense if you just know what information to pull together.
And once the brand strategy is defined, it will inform your design work by telling you who your designs should attract, what kind of personality it should reflect, what kind of attributes your design elements should represent, and what metaphors your should consider (if any). It will give you a list of guidelines to reflect your designs and sketches against. And it will make your brainstorming easier and faster.
If you want to learn more, check out my free training on how to build personal brands for clients (or yourself).
In this free training, I walk you through the branding framework I learned when working in branding agencies in San Francisco, CA and Helsinki, Finland. I’ve adapted the framework to accommodate first-time brand builders and solopreneurs. You can use this to build your own brand. Or start creating personal branding for clients.
In this training you will learn:
✓ The process for creating powerful brands — what to create, in what order, and to consider in each step
✓ What you need to create for an impactful brand strategy
✓ How that brand strategy feeds into a visual identity — and what is needed for a polished, professional visual identity
✓ How to form a meaningful and impactful brand messaging
In full transparency, I am also testing a new webinar software. So, you will have to sign up to see the training. My apologies for any inconvenience.