If you’ve worked with a graphic designer before, you may have had some different experiences. Different designers have varying approaches, and you can see that in how they present their work. Because of this, I want to dig into the process I use to create amazing brands and website for my clients.
What is the one-concept method?
When I was going through my college design class, I was introduced to the idea of the one-concept method. The one-concept method is where a designer presents one cohesive concept to the client instead of multiple directions that haven’t been fully fleshed out. My professor at the time had many reasons why this is often the best way to approach a brand, but after putting it into practice the last 10 years, I wanted to share my own take on it.
Why I use the one-concept method
There are a lot of reasons why I’ve used the one-concept method for the past several years–because it works. It works well for my clients (just peek at the portfolio to see what I mean) and it works well as a designer.
With the one-concept method, my client receives an entire brand that has been well thought out–from the logo variations to the colors, typefaces, patterns, illustrations, and more. This has all been developed from foundational elements in their brand strategy (your brand values, mission, positioning, target market, etc.) Having a foundation of a brand understood and established is what is going to drive the brand identity design process.
The alternative is usually where a designer will present 3-4 different logo designs and leave it up to the client to choose which one they like best. Here’s why that doesn’t work: the client’s personal likes and dislikes may not line up with what is needed for their brand, and they are looking at a very small piece of their overall brand–the logo. It’s as if they are only looking at a fraction of a photo and they can’t see the rest of the scene that will eventually make up their whole brand.
And YES, the client should love their brand system. But they also need to recognize what their community needs from their brand. It’s up to the design expert (the designer) to bridge that gap. That is why brand strategy is so important. Having a foundation of a brand understood and established is what is going to drive the brand identity design process.
An overview of the one-concept method
My client and I will hop on a call and work through a brand workshop. This is typically a longer meeting since we are really digging into each piece of their brand, and the goals that they have for their business. Once we are done working through all of these different pieces, I will do additional research based on what we talked about in our meeting. Then I compile all of that into a direction and strategy for their brand to stand out and become magnetic.
At this point, we have the foundational elements of the brand nailed down. Given everything that has been discussed, there is a clear direction for the brand. Why would I muddy the waters (and confuse the client in the process) with additional directions that really make no sense for the client? Following me here?
As a brand designer and strategist, it’s quite literally my job to do the work to understand what the needs of the client and the target market are in order to translate that all into a cohesive brand. Giving the client options would be putting part of my job on the client that they hired me to do.
When I use the one-concept method, I’m using my time effectively to create the best solution for my client and their brand, instead of trying to come up with multiple solutions that I know aren’t really going to work well.
Because we (the client and I) have come together to develop the foundation of the brand, we are working toward a common goal to develop the best solution. This takes out unnecessary revisions because we’re not just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
The End Result
The end result for my client is a verbose brand that has been well thought out–from the logo variations to the colors, typefaces, patterns, illustrations, packaging, online presence, and more.