• Ruth Lefcoe

You've been presented with design concepts: What Now?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019

What is a design concept? A design concept should be viewed as a base design idea. The concept of a design project is the central idea for what the final design will look like. For example a company in the aerospace sector may call for a logo with sleek lines, blue skies, upward pointing visual elements, whereas a community organization might focus its themes and colors around people, places, and neighborly values. For each design project, there may be more than one design concept presented by your graphic designer in the first or second rounds of presentations.

Why does your designer send you concepts and not one final logo/design? You've hired a designer for a logo design and they've presented you with a first round of design concepts. This set of concepts may include 2 or more very different logos for your business... or 2 or more logos that are similar but have a few visual aspects to them that are different. Why are there a few variations? A good designer takes what you've told them - the brief for the project - and translates that information into a design concept. Variations could tell slightly different stories, use different colors, or be completely different such as having one concept with just your business name (often called a word mark), one with a graphic element or icon (logo mark), or combining both.

The different concepts we present our clients reflect our understanding of what you've told us. In this way, our visual representation mirrors your description of what you understand your brand to be, but in a variety of ways.

Once in a while, your designer will present you with one concept! Sometimes a designer is able to concisely hit the mark in their first round of designs and usually, it hits the mark with their client as well.

How should you review these design concepts? First, keep in mind: A design concept is usually a rough design. It isn't perfected for final use. You may be thrown off by this. Some designers take the extra time to "perfect" each concept for this first round, but many designers want to budget that time for use on the next rounds. This keeps them from spending time on concepts that will not be taken any further or be finalized for use.

That said, take your time when reviewing the design concepts. Think about each one as being your company logo. What do you think? Did one of them stand out to you much more than the others? Focus on what you like and don't like about each one. Your designer wants to get some feedback from you so the next design round can hone in on exactly what you want your business image, or brand, to be.

Some of the key questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the purpose of your design?

  • What’s the idea behind it?

  • What is your design supposed to do?

  • Who is it for?

  • What is its function?  

Get all your feedback together, making sure that you refer to each concept in a way that the designer will understand which one is being commented on. They will likely each be labeled in some way - with a number, letter, or name - to help keep your feedback organized.

Important: Do not get intimidated or hold back on your comments. Your designer wants to know everything you think and answer all your questions. It is the designer's job to deliver a final logo you LOVE!

What happens next? Once a design concept is locked down, the designer refines the agreed upon design by first implementing any changes from your feedback. They spend time touching up rough elements, making adaptations to colors, line style, and other specific elements from the selected design concept.

Action Item: Contact deRuth Design to find out more about the design process and if we can work with you on your next project!

About the Author: Ruth Lefcoe is a graphic designer based in the Washington, DC Metro Area, with a client list covering the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. She has over 20 years of design/branding experience with large and small companies, U.S. Government agencies such as DHHS, NIH, SAMHSA, and private clients. Ruth has a 15-year-old son and a sweet beagle pup, enjoys creative challenges, digital art, cake decorating, and marathoning whole seasons on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and anything streaming.

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