Originality can sometimes be a difficult factor to achieve when creating a design.
As a creative, I consider it a part of my day-to-day job to look at other designers work.
To be successful in any field you must know what your industry is doing and keep up with all the current trends. Scrolling through Pinterest daily has created a jumbled up library of beautiful imagery and ideas floating around and bouncing off the walls inside my brain.
I've found myself so many times saying "Damn, that's so rad! I wish I would've thought of that!"
When you see talented people's work every day, it's difficult to make something that you haven't seen before. Especially when the work you see and admire sticks in your brain, subconsciously making you want to create something similar.
So how do we design something unique that no one has designed before?
All creatives are different. Some are blessed with an amazing gift of visualizing and knowing where to start a design as soon as they've been briefed on a project.
Other designers really need to work to brainstorm and put more effort into coming up with a great original idea or design.
For some designers, like me, it's a mix of both. Sometimes an idea will hit me like cupids arrow on Valentines Day, and other days I am completely void of any original thoughts or concepts.
If you don't have an idea or a vision that magically pops into your head, then creating an original idea can take time. It can be a process, but very rewarding when completed and done right.
Keep in mind that every person is different. The steps below are actions I take if I'm feeling stuck on creating a concept. Whether it's a logo, a full brand identity or a poster, these steps will help you get out of your head and enjoy the process of creating.
These steps could also be used to design a brand identity. However, designing a whole identity has a lot more steps in between! (BLOG POST ON BUILDING A BRAND IDENTITY - COMING SOON!)
Here are the 5 Steps to Creating a Great Original Design:
1.) DO YOUR RESEARCH
RESEARCH YOUR COMPETITORS
How else will you know if your design is original or not?!
See what’s out there! If you're designing for a new tea shop or a hair salon, you would want to research different establishments that have already branded their businesses in these specific categories.
What are the logos like for a tea shop? Are they all green? Do they have clean and simple logotypes or abstract symbols?
(I use Pinterest and Google Image Search to do research on other logos and branding.)
RESEARCH WHAT INSPIRES YOU
Researching competitors is an important step, but it's just as important to do research on what inspires you for this project. Check out some of your favorite blogs to start gathering inspiration for your project.
(I list websites in the workbook that I like to use for inspiration - download at the bottom of this post).
RESEARCH THE HISTORY
Look into the history of your project as well!
For example: If you're doing a logo for a makeup company, research when makeup was first invented or used. Were the Egyptians the first to decoratively paint their faces with makeup?
Another example: You're doing a menu for a restaurant, maybe you would like to know more about your client's great-grandfather who came here from Italy to open the restaurant. Diving into the story of how the restaurant was first started could reflect or influence your design work.
knowledge is power, understanding history will give you a better perspective on what you are trying to create. Also, creating a story for a brand will have more people feeling interested and connected to the brand. Costumers love an emotional connection to a story.
2.) Put all your research together
Gather all your research and put it in one place, where you can see everything as a whole.
I like to use Pinterest where I can create a board and pin everything I find in one place. If I want to go the extra mile, visually, I print a lot of my research out and tape my findings onto the wall, then step back and see how everything looks together.
When you do this, what do you see at first glance? A lot of white? Does everything look cluttered? A lot of photography? All script fonts?
When you get a feel for everything, then you will know to design something different from everything that's in front of you.
3.) Get out of your comfort zone
Get yourself out of your comfort zone and do something you've never done before.
Place yourself in a different world of what you normally would be in. Go to a biker bar, go the mall or the library. Pick up a book on the History of Indian Textiles, learn how to paint, take a sushi making class, or watch a black and white movie.
Try a different coffee shop and observe what art they put on the walls, observe the people inside. What are they wearing? Maybe your eye is instantly attracted to a pattern on a woman's sweater.
Remember that there is art and creativity in almost everything we do and see every day. It's important to not get stuck in your little bubble.
Be curious, be observant, appreciate what's around you and breathe it all in. This feeling of being inspired is liberating and will motivate you to create something stupendous.
4.) SKETCH SKETCH SKETCH
You don't need to be an artist to draw or sketch. Everyone can doodle and sketch ideas. It's about taking your research, inspiration, experience and having it flow out onto paper.
Don't get caught up in drawing anything perfect. AND DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THINKING YOUR IDEAS SUCK.
If the thought or idea comes into your mind, draw it, even if it's not a brilliant idea. Even if it's a polar bear eating an orange or a notebook melting into cheese, IT'S AN IDEA!
Set aside a couple of hours, put away your phone or any distractions, play some music and sketch away! If you feel like you've wasted your time, I promise you, you haven't. Some of my best ideas have come from my least favorite sketches. Have an open mind.
Have fun, sip on some wine while you sketch, sleep on your ideas. Wake up the next morning and pick your favorite ideas with some coffee in your hand.
5.) FINE TUNE
Execution and communication are key.
You can have a great idea and a horrible execution and it won't be a great design.
This is where your graphic design skill-set comes in. Make sure your idea is clearly translated in your design. If your concept is to have a giant keyhole on a house, but to someone else, it looks like a pointy box with a hole in it, then it's a miss.
Do a couple different options and ask people around you what they see or think of when you show it to them. Experiment with it. If you're reading this and your not a designer, that's totally ok! There are designers for hire that can bring your idea to life! I tell my clients all the time that almost half of what I do is research and sketching to formulate an original and unique idea that works well for their business. If you do this part, you will cut design costs in half if your designer charges per hour.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.
Everything that you create is an original design because there is no one else like you!
I know I began this post by making it seem like it's hard to be original. To a certain extent this is true. It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you think in terms of Michael Jackson inventing the moonwalk then yes, this is a high level of originality.
If you think in terms of a cheese-stuffed donut, is it original? Yes and no. Cheese stuffed foods already existed but no one ever thought to put it in a donut until 2005 (I just made that number up, but you get the point!)
Set your goal early on about how original you want to be.
There's a balance between comparing yourself to others and having the confidence to create some magic. It's easy to get caught up in what other people are doing (I would know) but just remember to have fun and enjoy the process.
Need more detail on how to create a great original design?
I've broken down the steps even further in my free 16-page workbook!
I hope you've enjoyed this post! Comments? Questions? I'm all ears. Feel free to comment below, share with your friends, or email me directly.
I would love to see what you create! #eyesavvydesign
Need someone to help you build your brand? Get in touch.