THE BLOG

29
Aug

Is There Method To This Madness?

Hello, you lovely design people! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here and felt it was time to start flexing my linguistic muscles once again. We have been doing a lot of brains forming in-house recently — from developing exciting new brands from scratch to shaping the future for existing companies — all if which requires idea generation.

And what do you know, that brings me right to the main topic I would like to talk about: what is the most effective process for coming up with amazing ideas?

Below you will find our tried and tested route that we find works best. There are of course many external factors at play during a project, but this process keeps us grounded and allows ideas to flourish — always crucial at the initial stages of any project. The method to our madness:

 

1. Truly understanding what you’re trying to communicate

How could one generate new ideas based on something they have no idea about? Ridiculous, I know, but chocolate teapots aside, having a deep understanding of the requirements, requests, and responsibilities is key to developing a killer idea. A dear friend of mine, Abraham Lincoln, was right to say, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Ask as many questions as you need, or ask as many as you feel is socially acceptable — whichever comes first.

 

2. Start with the words

Once our brains are stuffed to the brim with knowledge of the task at hand, we move onto refining the language that surrounds the requirement. This involves chopping up meeting notes, re-reading initial emails, and honing in on the first bright sparks that come to mind. We find brainstorming can signpost potential directions for projects, which later develop into themes.

 

3. Move on to mind mapping

With ideas ripe and ready for the picking, the mind mapping process allows us to delve deep into our subconsciousness and connect the dots. It’s important to start very broad and general with mind mapping — sometimes you can find yourself putting pressure on linking these ideas back to the brief’s final outcome. But by starting wide and honing in nearer the end it grants us the ability to develop ideas that would never have been available with a narrow viewpoint. Also, as we are visual creatures; the endpoints of our mind map are most effective when they are nouns, as this is something we can visually represent.

 

4. Researching key terms

After some group discussions and along these ideas to soak in, we then select some key terms that become apparent on the mind maps. We take inspiration from books, artwork, and online research. Initially, we find it most effective by staying away from similar outcomes (be that a logo for example) and focus more on literal representations of the key terms. And if anyone uses a ‘Stock_3D_business_people_putting_puzzle_pieces_together.jpg’, they’re fired (see image above for reference, you heathens).

 

5. Reflecting on research imagery

A core part to idea generation is joining the dots — seeing the emerging patterns in the research and deciding which is most fitting for the brief. I previously mentioned that it was initially most effective to not link back to the brief’s final outcome — but now is the time to do so. Moving away from the wide and honing in on particular parts of the research that fit the brief’s message. These groups are what form out themes.

 

6. Thumbnailing the themes

Time to start drawing. Putting pen to paper and making some initial marks gets the creative juices flowing. It’s always a good idea to keep things rough and loose, unrestricted and free from too much control. I personally find it most effective if I continue sketching multiple ideas inspired from the research imagery until I can’t see it from any other angles. At that ‘burn-out’ point it’s time to take a step back and review.

 

7. Breath and refine

Go on, grab a cup of coffee, take 5, and give your brain a breather. Fresh eyes unclog the mind and open up a new perspective on some of your design choices. Upon reflection of thumbnails, we like to select the ones that are working well and have potential, before refining these ideas with help from our research and words taken from the brief.

 

8. Rinse and repeat

Continue developing and refining these thumbnails until you are confident in a selection of ideas. It’s never smart to propose a design that you don’t feel works just to please the client because the client will always choose this one. Survival of the fittest I say, let the thumbnails battle against one another until a brilliant (and slightly intimidating) group of ideas have formed.

 

9. Digital development

Only after the intense labour of love for our thumbnail sketches is over will we then move onto the computer. We feel it’s good to see the computer as a tool, instead of a creative outlet (an expression that is engrained from college lecturers). Paper and pencil are quick, loose, and unrestricted — and although it may seem faster to just jump on a computer, the process will take much longer if not executed properly. A lot of the time we will send our clients refined sketches before moving onto the computer, just to really nail the initial idea.

Our process is always changing as we learn and adapt to the current design climate, but it’s something we use on a day to day basis. It makes even the most ambitious projects much more manageable and exciting, no mean feat!

 

Alongside this process list, we want to share some top tips on idea generation, you lucky devils you:

  • A lot of idea generation is simply finding links between existing ideas
  • Recreate literal objects in interesting ways which tie together multiple messages
  • Always start broad and work your way back in
  • Take inspiration from absolutely anywhere, not just Pinterest…
  • Breaks are important
  • So is coffee
  • Don’t be afraid to explore the unknown, that’s where excitement lives
  • Fall in love with your ideas

Alas it’s time to conclude the chronicles of idea generation. Go forth and shower all projects with wonderful and weird ideas. Now with numb fingers, I bid you farewell, but I’m sure we’ll speak again very soon…

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.

27
Oct

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 6: Building Relationships)

Clients How To Guide

We’re not just talking about secret handshakes here — having a sustainable relationship with a client solidifies the aspect of trust and results in many more seamless projects.

Here are some top tips to going the extra mile…

  • Memory Game — Note any interesting points about the client that you can bring up in conversation, i.e. they have mentioned that they are hiring within the company, ask how the hiring process is going and show that you are genuinely interested in their business. Remember names; we will be interacting with many different clients so knowing exactly who you will be speaking to may seem like common sense, but it is something that can have a big effect on client confidence in yourself and the team.
  • Make An Appearance — Jump at the chance to meet the client face to face. The difference this makes to the relationship is big, clients will feel much more comfortable talking to you in the future after your first encounter.
  • Match Their Energy — Are they excited? Copy this behaviour, and then some; if a client is excited about a project, match their excitement, plus 1. This goes for if they are quieter too; don’t bounce around the room with excitement if the client is more introverted — match their tone of voice plus 1 in order to build trust and rapport.
  • Our Business — Treat their business as your own; learn about the product/service beforehand and show a genuine interest in what they do. Not only will this bring your passion forward for the client to see, but it makes it easier to work on a project you have an interest in.

Remember that when it comes to relationships, it takes two to tango.

Now that we’re done scratching one another’s backs, we’re well on our way to working harmoniously with our clients. What a journey! Try to remember these little tips and your passion for graphic design will shine through in every project you star in.

It’s been a pleasure,

Client How To Guide

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.
He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.
A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.
26
Oct

the loft’s Design Process

We strive to create beautiful bespoke pieces of work that help bring your brands to life — this is something that takes time, energy, and structure. The design process varies for a lot of agencies; some have very strict rules which must be followed, whereas others have no structure whatsoever. At the loft, we’re probably somewhere in between.

Your own personal design process will be as distinct as the end result, so we have engineered a loose framework that resembles a simple project. Not only is the design process effective and efficient, it’s something that should be a lot of fun.

1. Meetings

1. Initial Meeting

If you have that initial spark of an idea, we would love to hear it. It’s all about taking time to work out exactly what you would like to achieve. The best way to get the ball rolling is by setting up that first meeting to discuss all of the potential directions we can take the project. We will discuss the main aims, intended outcomes, and pinpoint exactly what it is that gives your idea energy.  Whether that’s a visit to our studio or over a cup of coffee at the local cafe, all projects begin with a simple, friendly chat.

2. Core

2. Getting to the core

Now it’s time for the design team to sit down and really their heads together. Finding out and conquering a challenge, understanding an incredibly complex system, bringing out the best in something or someone… every single client we have worked with has had their own unique problem to solve. By summarising the brief we can boil down the project to its core and figure out what the true object is we are to overcome.

3. Concept

3. Concept Presentation

Now it’s time to have some fun! We love to generate tonnes of great ideas, ranging from things that tick all of the briefs boxes to more, let’s say, abstract thoughts. Working with yourself, we can capture some real jewels of creativity in these sessions. Concepts let us summarise our thoughts and highlight the potential directions that the project can take. It’s important to show where ideas come from so displaying them in a presentation makes the process a lot more exciting and visually digestible. Initial sketches is an integral part of the loft’s design process as we can work hard and fast without wasting time on ideas that have no traction. This will be supported by research visuals possibly some basic computer mockups. During these meetings, we like to hone in on a select few ideas so that we can put a lot of energy into. Whether it is home or away, they are great fun to take a step into the future and see what is possible.

5. Development

4. Development Stage

The idea is starting to take shape, building more and more momentum. During this stage we hone in on selected concepts, tearing them apart, playing with various sizes, colours, and compositions. This is where controlled chaos lies and the visuals begin to appear. We will usually require some content from yourself (be that body copy, logos, or images).

4. Dev Presentation

5. Development Presentation

We welcome you back to our studio to exhibit the latest developments in the project. Now is time to be harsh and focus on the finer details — an exciting time for both parties as that initial spark of an idea starts to really come to life.

6. Further Dev copy

6. Further Development

It’s time to finalise the design and lock in the core message. Taking on board all feedback and using it to bring the designs from good to great. This stage requires a very delicate touch — jewellers would be jealous.

7. Design Presentation

7. Final Design Presentation

This is the design as we envision it, all details taken into consideration and work that we are very proud of. An ideal time to thoroughly analyse the design and flag up any final amends before the files are prepared in post-production.

8. File Prep

8. Amendments & File Prep

Any final tweaks that were flagged up in the previous presentation are to be carried out, signing off the overall design. We then move onto prepping the files for their specific format, whether that be print, digital, or other.

9. SignOff

9. Final Sign Off

And alas we reach the bittersweet end of our design adventure. This is concluded by the hand over of all deliverables and additional material that has been created. This project may have come to a close, but our door is always open — we love sitting down for that next coffee.

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.

20
Oct

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 5: Going The Extra Mile)

Clients How To Guide

Doing the thinking for the client is wonderful for your relationship; additional content can really make their job easier.

Here are some top tips to going the extra mile…

  • Stop & Think — Sometimes, doing the thinking for the client can earn you a lot of brownie points. This lets your passion shine through for the project.
  • Never Over-Promise — The trust you have with your client will be hurt and they made look at you in a more negative light — understand what you can deliver and make sure it’s on time.
  • Additional Material — Supplying the client with additional material that can show them potential directions for the future and will maintain a positive relationship. If there is any area you can improve on with regards to making the process easier for the client then it should be implemented. For example, providing clients with not only the print format for some of their work but also a digital RGB version that has been cropped to social media sizes.

Take these tips into account and you will leave the competition in the dust.

Next week we will be looking at building brilliant relationships with clients.

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.
He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.
A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.
13
Oct

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 4: Communications)

Clients How To Guide

Lack of communication is a big no-no. Having clear communication channels with your client’s ensures that both parties are heading in the right direction.

Here are some top tips to keeping in contact…

Emails

  • Make it very clear what your intentions are in the email; clarity is key to communication.
  • Always summarise and reiterate what a client is looking for.
  • Triple check spelling; especially when it comes to names/subject.
  • Communicate in a professional manner, but do not shy away from expressing your excitement on projects and work.

Phonecalls

  • A lot of clients are comfortable speaking over the phone, it adds a more human element and the clients are more likely to express their true opinions in this form of communication.
  • Phone calls are for less formal/time constrained situations — emails give you important information that is written in text that we can refer back to.
  • If the client has made a lot of points, it can be very helpful to send them a summarised email of the conversation via email after the conversation
    for clarification.

So let’s be sensible when sending emails or answering the phone; make it so that your granny could understand you. You never know, she might be your next client…

Next week we will be looking going the extra mile, adding that cherry on top design sundae.

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.>

06
Oct

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 3: Meetings)

Clients How To Guide

What’s more important than the precious moments you get to spend with your client, one-on-one, excitedly discussing the direction of the project? You guessed it — nothing (apart from the boss’s birthday).

Fast-paced and full of ideas; your meetings should aim to clarify with clients and gather crucial information.

Here are some top tips for hosting a top meeting…

  • Timing is Key  No one likes to be late to a meeting, let alone turn up on a wrong day! Be very clear with your clients when deciding on a meeting time/place, no more awkward moments of confusion. If you can scope out what your client is looking to achieve in the meeting as well — even better!
  • Ideas, Not Problems — Extra brownie points for those who can sketch on the spot. Transferring the client’s words to paper in a visual form is a fantastic way to get the client excited about the project and gain their trust.
  • Small Ideas Sheet = Big Success — By creating a small ideas sheet and taking it to potential clients it shows that you are prepared and know what you are talking about. Having already thought out the client’s ideas and solving problems beforehand lets the client know that we’re serious about their business and are already invested in what they do. These sheets should be loose, giving the presenter a point of reference, maybe some initial sketches; essentially a conversation starter.

In conclusion; meetings should be your best friend! A brilliant time to get some juicy information from your clients, maybe even a bit of gossip if you’re lucky. Next week we’ll have a look at communications; the connection with your clients that keep you on the right path.

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.

29
Sep

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 2: Presentations)

Clients How To Guide

 

We shall start our clients journey with presentations — something that can turn even the most confident designer into a shrivelling, sweaty mess.

But do not fret, there are ways to bypass the instinctive flight option.

Here are some top tips to holding a killer presentation…

  • Practise Consistency — No two presentations are the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them consistent.
  • Preparation Is Key — We use different layouts for different stages of presentations. Winning a pitch is, of course, important to us, so being prepared is a key part of that. Concept presentations should be slightly more refined, clearly outlining our thought process behind each concept in a concise manner. If the wording is too long, the concept isn’t strong enough to be explained in a couple of sentences. These presentations include initial sketches, maybe some illustrator mock ups and strong reference material.
  • Know Your Audience — If you are designing for someone with particular taste, you should tailor the entire process to their mindset, including presentations. Some clients are decision makers and like to have the important stuff bullet pointed. Others like to get into the detail; design accordingly.
  • Final Presentations — These should be much more honed in on a specific idea, showing slight variations on the chosen concept. Again, make these changes as clear as possible so that the client’s job of choosing one is made simpler. We want the entire process to be as easy as possible for the client, in turn making it easier for the team.

Next week we will be having a look at meetings (actually talking to someone face-to-face, imagine that?!).

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness.

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.

20
Sep

Clients: A How-To Guide (Part 1: Intro)

Clients How To Guide

Clients are at the heart of every project we create — an integral slice of the delicious design pie. So understanding them is massively important, especially when it makes both parties lives a lot easier.

Throughout my time working in a design studio, I have picked up some handy tips that I feel will help designers of any level. It’s super simple stuff, but it can be easy to forget. I give you, ‘Clients: A How-To Guide’.

I will be delivering this guide each week, focusing on different topics, including:

The topics will delve deeper into some personal anecdotes and opinions I have on the matters. I look forward to seeing you next week.

Reiss, Designer & Director of Client Happiness (yes, that’s an official title).

staff_170502_0542

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.

He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.

A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.

10
Aug

Desk Space Available

IMG_2357–2

 

The loft is a design and branding company based in the heart of Glasgow.

We have a big, beautiful, open space with ample room for individual creatives looking for a new place to call home. Based within Merchant City, our studio is housed in South Block, one of Glasgow’s most famous hubs housing many of the city’s finest artists, designers and creative companies. You’ll be surrounded by creativity.

We offer

– A wonderful creative environment with other freelancers and our own team.
– Fixed Desk Space.
– Business Address.
– Shared Mailbox.
– Secure Access.
– Wall Space.
– Bookable Meeting Rooms.
– Staffed Reception during Business Hours.
– Kitchen Facilities.
– The legendary South Block Coffee Shop.
– Communal areas with obligatory table tennis.
– And Wi-Fi of course.

The price is £120 (+20%VAT.)

Please contact hotdesk@theloft.co or phone 0141 354 1595 for more information.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Thanks,

The loft team

 

IMG_2357–2

Studio

IMG_3787 copy

Meeting Room

27
Jul

Brand Builders Guide To: Glasgow

Recoat_1

This Will Ruin Everything
The Lighthouse
15th – 30th July

Not your normal art exhibition. “This Will Ruin Everything” marks Recoat’s 10th anniversary and in true form, they curated an exhibition that celebrates not only themselves but forty Sottish and international artists and designers from a wide range of creative practices, from architecture to digital art to painting. The phrase “This Will Ruin Everything” was a comment directed at Recoat during a mural project and it encompasses everything that Recoat is trying to achieve by opening up the debate around public art, its purpose, function and value. It’s one not to be missed!

Find out more here.

  

william-iven-19843

Creative Brainstorm
The Corinthian Club — CEO / Muckle Media
3rd Aug
1pm – 5pm

Need some creative inspiration? Alongside networking, CEO and Muckle Media aim to inspire and equip you with the tools to think creatively when it comes to PR, social media and marketing. Starting with a networking lunch at 12.30pm, the creativity session starts at 1pm and involves working on a live brief and using Muckle Media’s approach to brainstorming to develop a creative ideas plan.   

Spaces are limited so get in there quick, register your interest here.

  

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After Hours Networking at Chaophraya
Chaophraya Glasgow — Chamber of Commerce
16th Aug
5.30pm – 7.30pm

Networking with a Thai twist! Glasgow Chamber of Commerce invites you to an evening of networking all while enjoying an exclusive preview of Chaophraya’s Christmas Menu, trying your hand at Thai cooking and getting behind the bar for some cocktail making. The perfect mix of networking, food and cocktails.

If this sounds like your type of networking event, you can register your interest here.

  

eCommerce-2 775x244

How to Develop an International Commerce Strategy
Scottish Development International — Scottish Enterprise
30th Aug
9am – 1pm

Wanting to grow your business internationally? This workshop will give you tips and advice on how to develop your online strategy, giving insights into both digital trends and mobile technology.

So, if you want to learn how to integrate your online strategy with your wider marketing strategy then this is the workshop for you, find out more here.

  

MadeBrave-SM

Boosting Your Brand with Social Media
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce — MadeBrave
5th Sept
9.30am – 12.30pm

This is the first in a three-part series of workshops from MadeBrave containing all you need to know about social media. Focusing on adding that human element which helps to create a deeper connection with your audience, this workshop will give you an insight into branding as a whole and how to showcase your brand on social media. It will also teach you how to develop creative and effective social media campaigns, how to plan your content and engage with your customers. 

You can get your tickets here.

  

Venturefest-Logo1Venturefest
Glasgow Science Centre
20th Sept

Venturefest is back for another year of innovating Scotland’s SMEs and ambitious early stage companies to grow and become more competitive. It connects SME business owners, entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to create long lasting business connections. The day is filled with all useful tools, advice, funding and contacts you need to take your business to the next level.

Register here.

  

Art Of Comics_1

Frank Quitely: The Art of Comics
Kelvingrove Art Gallery
1st Apr – 1st Oct

Ever dreamt of creating your own superhero or getting your photo taken with Superman? This exhibition showcases the largest collection of Frank Quitely’s incredible work to ever be displayed. Like a superhero himself, Frank Quitely is the alter ego of Glasgow born Vincent Deighan. Now a world renowned artist, the name goes hand in hand with iconic characters such as Superman, Batman and the X-Men — all of which you can see at Kelvingrove.

You can book tickets here.

To view our interactive map and have all the brand building events across Scotland at your fingertips, click here.