How do I gather inspiration for my project?

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We all like to pin logos and design pieces that we love. I would bet you that almost every business owner, at least those who know what Pinterest is and what it’s used for have a pinterest board for design. Five bucks right now! It’s an automatic response for business owners, because pinterest is full of beautiful and inspiring things and you want to keep for a rainy day.

Well you’re in luck because one of the foundations of the design process is finding and gathering inspiration for a project!

All designers do it differently, but for me specifically, one of the beginning steps in the process is creating a moodboard for each project that acts as a guideline for the overall style, look and feel for the brand/stationery piece/website. The moodboard keeps myself and my clients on track throughout the process, incase distractions come down the road.

To create the moodboard, I ask each client to gather inspiration for the project. A popular questions that I get with this request is: “What kind of inspiration should I gather? And what should I look and search for?”

First off, when you are gathering inspiration for your project, your designer should guide you through what to look for and get you in the right mindset to start gathering. This includes talking through how you want your brand to feel to potential customers, it includes your goals for the next few months/years, it includes your mission statement and the “why” behind your business, and it includes making keywords for your brand. Having these things in mind helps to start the gathering process.

 

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So here are some things to keep in mind when searching for inspiration for a project:

 

1. You need to think like your business

You aren’t gathering what you like personally, but things that your business likes, feels like, looks like. If it’s easier for you, think of your business as a person. How old is it? What gender? What would it’s wardrobe or home style look like? Where would it live? What would it’s favorite show be? Etc.

You’ve heard of an ideal client profile, right? If not, Jasmine Star has a great ideal client profile exercise in her blogpost, and if you own a business, you need one! So instead of thinking about your ideal client, think of your business.  

 

2. Don’t just gather design related pieces

I know it’s really easy to get on pinterest and search for “pretty business cards” and browse until your eyes fall out, but it isn’t helpful for gathering inspiration, or honestly for using your time well. Lol

What you need to look for is overall styles. Does your business have a coastal style? Search for coastal cities and beach views. Does your business have a rustic, mountain style? Search for vintage compasses or mountain images. Does your business have a high-end downtown feel? Search for skyscrapers, big cities, luxury offices. It’s about finding the style you want for your business.

Also look for color schemes, textures, and images of what your services/products are. Include images of your work! That is a huge part of helping your designer understand your style. If your photography has a romantic city feel, then you should not be looking at the southern countryside.

 

3. When gathering design related pieces, keep it minimal

Finally, it’s time to look at actual design inspiration. By using the first two tips, this should fall into place fairly easily and be the least amount of inspiration you have on your pinterest board.

A good designer can use other designer’s work as inspiration for an original idea, but having too much design work as inspiration can easily stick into our creative brains and be hard not to bring into the project. So help your designer out and don’t overload them with logo’s that you love. Just include a handful.

SIDEBAR: There is a difference between using another's work as inspiration for our own and outright copying another designer’s work. If your designer is copying someone else’s work - RUN, as far away as you can and take your money with you, because someone will catch it and you will have sunk all your money into a logo/stationery/brand that you can’t legally use. I’ve seen it happen and it is a terrible situation to be in.

You are free to search logo design, business cards, letterheads, business stationery, branding boards, etc. If you're a product based business, or have a dream to eventually have an office of your own or a store of your own, search for office inspiration, store fronts, shop displays, etc. If you LOVE letterpressed business cards, by all means include a few examples. If you know you are going to want tshirts designed or mugs made with your logo, include examples of that also. Your inspiration doesn’t have to ONLY be logos. Gather a variety, because it will give your designer a much better idea of the styles that you like.


If you're just hoping into the Design Transparency Series, check out the intro post here! My goal with this blog post series is to equip, empower and add a little more transparency to the mystery of working with a designer by answering popular questions that you have about the design process and hiring and working with a designer.