Why Design Should Always Start with “What If?”

What If

Being creative is hard in an industry where where trends are constantly changing and the “next best thing” is a daily occurrence. But that’s part of the challenge—harnessing how to keep up with competitors, distilling what serves clients best, and approaching every avenue with possibility is what makes great design great, and what makes the effort worth it.

At Proof, instead of plugging in a formula, we start every project with one question: “What if…?

Innovation is a key part of design strategy, but the question is, how do we, as designers, turn an innovative deliverable into and asset that’s not only an authentic but profitable? It’s easy to play it safe, but it’s part of our job not to fall into that trap. We don’t have a magical solution, but we do have four tricks we count on to translate our ideas into action that works.

Concept ruthlessly.

“In the concept phase, there is no such thing as a bad idea.” – unkown

When it comes to conceptualizing, anything is game. The client, the agency CEO, or the design intern can suggest the best/craziest ideas. Everyone’s thoughts matter and they can easily lead to solid options. Concept the sh*t out of these brainstorm meetings. Be prepared to open your ears and your mouth, but check your ego at the door. These sessions should be safe zones where anyone can share and everyone should. It’s the design team’s responsibility to reign everything in, but pushing yourself to go the extra mile should be required.

Use your brain.

“You were hired for the way you think.” – unknown

Creatives are paid to go “all out” on concepts. When you’re in the beginning phases, give your designer insight into what you envision, and your likes and dislikes–after that, encourage them to run wild. After all, we all do what we do because of talent and perspective. As designers, we depend on trust from clients to literally use our brains.

Throw a curve.

“We want something out-of-the-box and unique.” – all clients, ever

The issue creatives have with designing “out-of-the-box” is that no matter what you do, you begin to limit yourself by identifying a box in the first place. Paying attention to client inspiration and general likes is important. But we’re not afraid to challenge everyone in the room by throwing in a game-changer. We’re constantly asked for something no one else has quite captured before, so we give ourselves permission to not only provide something “unique”, but a little risky.

Pull real life inspiration.

“Don’t be a boring human.” – yours truly

Living life to the fullest is the best way to create killer designs. We’re constantly looking online for inspiration, but being aware of what’s around you and letting the small details of life soak in, is what gives designers their own unmatchable styles. My favorite place to search for inspiration, especially when it comes to packaging, is at the grocery or liquor store. I take pictures, create folders on my phone, and search them whenever I need a fresh perspective. That physical connection and feeling is important. So, as I design, I relive those emotions and become more passionate about my work than I was yesterday.

If you’re looking for that next big idea, we’d love to help get the creative ideas flowing. Let’s get started on a project today!

Receive regular inspiration & creative fuel from our crew