the one concept method

Like any other profession, it’s taken many years of experience for me to become the designer I am. Study taught me the fundamentals of design, and how to use them to solve problems. The first few years of my career after study were all about learning how to use those skills in the real world, fine tuning my design app expertise and gaining experience working with clients. However, it took another few years for me to figure out the best process for how I’d work with my clients.

 

there’s a problem with options

Most designers, including myself have developed the process of creating three initial concepts for clients. Why three? Who knows, but that has always been the magic number. However, something has always prompted the question ‘there must be a better way’.  I either felt that one concept was a stronger solution than the rest or clients then wanted me to combine a little from this one and a little from that one, sometimes resulting in a frankinstein-style logo.

FOR THE DESIGNER

The truth is—not all solutions are equal. If you need to create three or more solutions, the odds are that one or more of them may not be as strong in appearance and/or application. It may not be as versatile or speak to the target audience quite as well. The reality is that by giving clients these options, you’re giving them the opportunity to choose something other than what you know to be the best solution. Doesn’t seem very logical, does it?

FOR THE CLIENT

All of a sudden, we’re picking favourites instead of solving the problem the best way we can. From here it’s not a far leap for clients to cherry-pick the things they like about each concept and ask to combine them. And why not? We’ve structured this process as a game of pick-and-choose so it’s really no wonder, if the client chooses based on personal taste, why we end up with a hodgepodge monster of our own making.

I’ve found a better way

For years I struggled with these issues over and over again – continually running into the same walls. I knew there had to be a better way. I wanted the chance to create and present only my best work: only the solutions I was proud to stand behind. I wanted to ensure that I would be doing right by my clients, that I was solving the problems I was being hired to solve to the best of my abilities.

Thankfully, I finally found that better way!

the one concept method

When I first heard about the One Concept Method, I was hugely skeptical.  ‘Only present one logo or brand identity concept?! This doesn’t line up with a lot of my experience with clients! They can’t be serious!’

Then I realised the anxiety and hesitation was coming from my own insecurity. Only presenting one concept would put a lot more pressure on me as the designer, but the whole idea seemed so beautifully brilliant that I took the time to learn more about it anyway. The more I learned, the more I believed.

 

how it works

It’s all in the pre-design prep stage. Well before I sit down to design, I learn as much about my client’s business as I can and channel this information into a brand overview. This guides all our work together, like a roadmap for our design journey. From this brand overview, I start designing – exploring all kinds of different directions until I find the right one. Then I develop that as much as I can.

While presenting multiple concepts lets me dip my toe in each direction, the one concept approach to brand design allows me to delve much deeper and present a more immersive brand experience. As I’ve found out over the years, it’s all about the context and my clients can only get so much from a black and white logo floating on a page.

why it works

My clients aren’t paying me to create options for them. They’re paying me to solve their problems and design the most strategically stunning and versatile brand I can. So instead of creating multiple decent options, I channel all my creative energy into creating one solution that’s truly phenomenal. The one!

It works because of years of experience, hours of research and strategy, and – most importantly – a strong foundation of trust between my amazing clients and me. This method works because of all I do up front to make sure this concept has what it takes to elevate the brand to where it rightly should be. I still explore many directions early on but narrow those down to the best solution and build that solution out into a more fully realised brand identity I know will work.

 

 I become more of a believer in this approach every single day. I get to enjoy creating work I love, present only the best solutions that I’m proud to stand behind, and delight in knowing I’ve solved my clients’ problems the best way I know how. My clients are thrilled with the results, relieved that they can trust me to solve their problems, and confident that this strategically stunning identity is the right move for their business.

The One Concept Method really is a win-win for designers and clients alike. Now when clients approach me demanding ‘options’ I know I’m not the right fit for them. I’m not here to create options. I’m here to solve problems with beautiful design.