3 min read

An Obvious Lesson Learned the Hard Way

A couple month ago we lost our first client. What became clear throughout the process is that we didn’t do enough visual check-ins to make sure the consensus we had in words would translate into visuals.

We always start our exploration on an identity design project with a brand workshop. In this brand workshop we will go through different adjectives that will define who the brand personality is. We go through and build out a real person to give us a deep understanding of how this person might act or make decisions. After we had completed this workshop, we write a bio and list the words and illustrate the character for the client to make sure we’re on the same page.

The problem with this process was, once we got confirmation on the person we started creating right away. We presented 4 identity concepts all with a similar vibe. That vibe is defined by the person we create the brand to be and the ideal customer that we also define in the workshop.

After presenting multiple logo concepts running off the feedback, we got a note that we were misaligned entirely on visual aesthetic. It caught our team incredibly off guard and there really wasn’t time to restart the process.

Around this same time we had internally been introduced to the concept called stylescapes. Basically a stylescape is a next level moodboard. It’s a curated and carefully crafted selection of visual elements arranged to give a single cohesive visual feeling for a brand.

We were just starting another project at this time and started to filter all this feedback and redesigned our process. We thought this would be a good project to give it a shot on.

Let me give you a bit of context. My friend Evan started a barbershop last year. As he’s been growing and working with us, we helped him realize that his logo is so closely tied to his personal story that no one else would be able to answer it as he hopes to bring on more barbers and maybe one day open another location.

After doing a workshop with us, he felt clear about his brand’s personality and how he was hoping to be perceived. As our team built out a mood board the three visual styles that started to emerge were, Rustic Antique Shop, Artisan Butcher and a Clean Scandinavian aesthetic. All of these were interesting directions to pursue and matched his brand’s personality we built in the workshop

When our designer took these three themes and the source material on our mood board magic quickly happened. Within a day he came back to me with three stylescapes of these directions.

Rustic Antique Shop

Clean Scandinavian

Artisan Butcher

I was blown away by how quickly he was able to capture the three visual directions and pair them with colours and typefaces that told a cohesive story. With some minor tweaks we could now present these three visual concepts to Evan and have a much more narrowed sandbox at which to explore identity systems in.

When Evan saw these he was immediately drawn to one, as we dove deep we started to find elements that he didn’t resonate with and others that he did amongst all three and refined his top selection to get a final approved stylescape.

Here is the refined stylescape bringing in the other elements he enjoyed

The speed at which we were able to get into the client’s brain and extract many interesting visual preferences while still bringing it back to the brand had removed much of the trial and error that we experienced in the lost clients process. We were able to deliver results that Evan was extremely excited about and create with much more purpose and direction.

The stylescapes have added an extra element of collaboration with our clients. It becomes a process that they contribute to and shift pieces of these styles capes around. The identity system they are no presented aren’t these final designs that come in out of the blue, but they get to experience the progression and formation of these designs.

Adding various check-ins with the client to ensure that you are on the same page is an obvious lesson that we learned the hard way. The important part is that our team was able to quickly take the feedback, digest it and turn it into something incredibly productive.