If you’re hiring a creative agency, you should want them to have a process. Many agencies have a process, at least on paper, a lot of them look and sound the same. Like anything, application is key.
Stemming from an idea offered by José Caballer and Chris Do of The Skool, in a great webinar they led, I’ve taken a crack at articulating the process, for the venture, Level|Gray, a forthcoming manifestation beyond this blog.
The following is the draft. A PDF follows the text. Comments and feedback welcome and appreciated.
LEVEL|GRAY DESIGN PROCESS V1
Compatibility is key in forming any new relationship, a working relationship is no different, and given the dimension of economics, compatibility is all the more crucial.
This brief overview is an introduction to our process, and the guidelines that we employ to maximize the value of our partnership with clients.
This process is an evolution of 15+ years of design experience working on projects of many shapes and sizes, with companies large and small, across a variety of disciplines including physical and virtual applications.
As a conscious partner, we find truth in nature, and inspiration in its dual dynamism and order. Plants and the natural world provide a meaningful reference for the way that we work.
As conscious communicators, our role is that of messenger, to listen deeply and empathetically to the needs of an audience, and to the inner truths about an offering that will encourage connection, and maximize the mutual value of that offering to audience and organization.
An offering—a product or service—is consumed as a message. In the socially-aware and aesthetically-driven time we now inhabit, every offering is inseparable from its message. As skilled messengers, our role is to align the values intrinsic to an offering with the benefits that it provides, to orchestrate highly relevant experiences.
The medium is the message.
—Marshall McLuhan, 1967
Stages of the Level|Gray Process:
STAGE 1. SEED
A seed contains all the DNA needed to create a specimen. In the same way knowing the seed of project provides the genetic framework to understand the origin of an opportunity and guide its materialization. As is often the case, the answer is in the question: Knowing what questions to ask, and what the question is that the project should answer are key to maximizing positive results.
Outwardly, desire drives the early ambitions of a project, what the team aspires to. Later when the project comes to fruition, desire is replaced by data, media that produce signals—Is it selling? Is it seen? Did they attend?—that can be measured for efficacy and to reveal further opportunities.
Fundamentals of seed-stage project definition:
- What is the competitive environment?
Note: A Competitive Audit is often a useful exercise and tool to visualize opportunities to differentiate.
- What are the favorable conditions, and opportunities?
What are our unique capabilities?
What challenges or obstacles must be overcome?
STAGE 2. ACTION
A high-definition sketch. What are we making? For whom? Why? And How?
Leveraging the insights gained in Stage 1 through materials such as a Competitive Audit, communications are explored to create a solution that will be novel and relevant, to put forth a message with a strong voice.
High-quality execution is required to fully realize the potential of a project, and reflect the values of the company at a peak level.
The role of spirit
We place spirit parallel to action. A project without spirit is mechanical, lifeless. Through partnership and entrepreneurial mindset, our creative approach is to live and breathe the company ethos, as highly enthusiastic and spirited craftspeople to spread the word. Being mindful of our purpose enables emotional connection and vitality.
STAGE 3. FRUIT/FRUITION
Once a project comes to fruition, it’s in the world to serve its purpose. As previously mentioned, the audience responds, and along with anecdotal insights, data does the talking. It’s important to define the metrics in Stage 1, to know what success looks like.
Design Equals Unification
Good design is an intuitive unification of form and function. Similarly, the design process is one of maintaining a high level of creative consciousness and deliberate movement toward a goal. Design is a visualization of strategic insight to deliver an innovative solution to an audience’s problem, aligned with an opportunity for your organization.
BOTTOM LINE: DESIGN ADDS VALUE
Offerings that leverage an effective design process:
- Provide a better user experience
- Signify premium value
- Engender favor and loyalty
- Achieve a better ROI