My latest assignment for a corporate identity was for Marloes Rooswinkel. She was going to start her own business with financial services. She will be providing people with insurance, loans and pensions. This post will explain the design proces I followed with her and ending the whole story with some conclusions. This really worked well!
Marloes Rooswinkel and I had a first meeting in which we discussed the following 5 keywords:
- Brand – User experience
- Customer – Transmitter
- User – Receiver
- Information – Content
Customer and User communicate with each other and the Information and Design are your restrictions or boundaries.
First, I had no knowledge of the types of services she offers. This will often occur and as a designer you have to dive in to it to some extent. To get more feeling with the design, but also to understand the customer or the user of the product (in this case the website).
After a brief explanation about her field of work, we also discussed her history as a financial consultant, why she now wanted to start on her own and how she got to that. Everything went well and I had a whole list of questions, but during the conversation a lot of those got answered. I didn’t have to start an interview in which I asked a question, got an answer, wrote it down and went on to the next question. Luckily! Sometimes it is difficult to keep the conversation going because you also want to wright down things, but don’t want to be looking away from your conversational partner at the same time. Plus, you have to write in such a way that your handwriting is still readable, hehe.
During the conversation I already had a vision about the website and how it should look like. As I found out this was completely matching Marloes’ vision too.
Because this is a corporate identity, we first determined that about 5 words should form the basis for the complete design of her company’s identity. This worked super! The following words were chosen:
After this first meeting I had a good feeling with the branding. Then comes the hardest part. Translating that feeling into a graphic or something visual, which then is transfered to paper and then into the computer. I did a few sketch sessions with the word and some style tryouts. I just tend to throw anything onto paper that pops up. Afterwards you can always throw something away. At the end of such session, I lined up the drawings and reflected them to the keywords I established earlier. From each drawing some things had to go, sometimes the complete sketch, but all those little parts together were forming a very nice image.
Eventually I had a logo with a badge that addresses the feeling very well. After some minimal changes to it I showed it Marloes and explained it on the basis the (by me) rejected logos. To make the path I followed clear to her.
The days after I finished the wordmark I got on to the letterhead, business cards and envelopes. This was a fairly small step. The logo really lends itself for this and everything fell in it’s right place. After a meeting where everything was approved and finalized I got on to the next step I wanted to determine. After the 5 keywords I wanted to get the tone of voice for the photography clear. I had some trouble doing this and I think that’s also because of those keywords. There is nog need for a tone of voice. The keywords are enough, plus there isn’t much photography in the website too.
Funny thing I discovered was that those keywords were automatically some sort of filter system. Classical, but not too frivolous. Elegant, but not too feminine. Maybe next time this can be used in a design process. For now there wasn’t enough time to use these ‘scales’ to their full extent.
I handled the design of the website in the same way as the logo was tackled. Create sketches and then check it against the keywords. It still fits? If not, why not, what is not right? Change it. And start over. So I came to a clear site design. The top menu bar is always present and the wordmark is centered above that. Then there is a small introduction text and below that three clearly separated business lines. Completely appropriate within the keywords.
One thing that the website differed from other parts of the corporate website is that it has a real purpose. This was necessary to get clear. Was the website just going to be informative? Or selling? Or maybe another purpose? In the case of Marloes the purposed of the website was to give the visitor/client confidence in Rooswinkel’s bussiness and thereby generate trust with the customer. That trust is important for a long term customer relationships where Marloes is at. Clients can not order an insurance or loan online, that’s not the purpose. Marloes Rooswinkel wants long term relationships so the client has to put in a bit of effort to get into contact with here and arrange a loan, insurance, credit, or what so ever.
Conclusions: Looking for these keywords is a good foundation. Five pieces is a good number. It is enough to remember, they are more than three and it is a whole handful. Certainly in this case where there is still nothing. Comparing the websites of competitors was also a handy trick.
Check your design with the keywords every time. Sketch a lot and immediately. Any inspiration that helps, you put on paper. Sometimes you build your design from many pieces of ‘wrong’ sketches. All those pieces together constitute the logo.
Words on a scale to help for photography or other manifestations of the brand can help. A colleague if mine also called archetypes, a sort of defining your brand as a person. For Rooswinkel there was too little time and it wasn’t really necessary. Rooswinkel is perhaps a little too small, after all it’s just one person.
What do you find good approaches to a design proces or how do you like to work?