16 JANUARY 2022

Deep dives and empty brains

Truly empathic design means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. As designers and brand strategists, this means immersing ourselves in our client’s world, and thinking deeply about their target audiences’ needs. Still, it is important not to get ahead of ourselves before the brief lands in our inbox.

In the time between signing on a client and then receiving and unpacking the brief, the natural temptation is to commence research and develop design ideas in a flurry of inspiration. After all, developing early concepts is one of the most exciting phases in a brand’s evolution. At Design Democracy, we fiercely resist this urge.

To preserve our capacity for originality (and to be fair to the client) we deny our creative brains during this period. This means no reading about our client online, no down-the-rabbit-hole news searches and no historical brand research. Fresh thinking and a client-focused dialogue is everything in this early phase, so we must jealously guard the first impression impact of the briefing process. Once we are given instructions, however, it’s game on.
The depth of our dive after the briefing stage can come as a shock to our clients. In stark contrast to the creative process lead-up, we embark on a period of forensic research. We seek to understand the pain points and multidimensionality of the client and their potential brand, mining for clues that will the unlock the kinds of ideas that arrest attention during a concept presentation. This research phase is a sacred time for creatives, when full immersion can open caverns of creative copy and visualisation.

Having complementary skills represented in the studio means that when inspiration strikes, we can work quickly to refine ideas – often several simultaneously – workshopping key messages and graphic concepts in the round. There are no short cuts on the road to inspiration, but a methodical early creative process can deliver boundless ideas and options to explore with the client, and test for stickiness with target audiences.

Design Democracy meets and works on Taungurung, Dja Dja Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung lands. We pay our respect to the traditional custodians past, present and emerging, and support their endeavours and autonomy.

© 2010 –  2022 Design Democracy
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