In the Beginning Was the Word...
“In the beginning was the word… The word gave life to everything that was created.”
Whether you consider yourself religious or not, you’re likely familiar with these words from the Gospel of John in the Bible. It's a form of the creation story. Beyond religious belief, I consider this a description of the design process because I believe that words drive design. More specifically, words drive effective design.
The typical Trischler Design Co. design process begins with words. It often starts with a workshop with several representatives from the client—leaders from across the organization, customers, donors, and other stakeholders. The more diverse the perspectives, the better. I facilitate discussion using several questions, often similar questions asked from different angles, to gather the words that tell the story of the business or non-profit. After several hours of conversation, there are hundreds of words written on sheets of paper hung around the room. Glancing around at the scribbles on the worksheets, one can begin to get an impression of why the organization exists, and the initial pathways are beginning to emerge to communicate this reason for existence.
Post-workshop, I gather all of the words and begin to look for answers to the following questions: What problem does my partner exist to help people overcome? What is essential to their audience? And what is unique about the organization?
Answering these questions (and more), I begin to make connections and see patterns. I start to distill all of the words into a few words (5 - 6) that sum up the overall intention of my partner. In other words, The Big Idea. These brief and easy-to-comprehend words will "give light to everything created" during the rest of the project and beyond. The words represent the most authentic and natural attributes of my partner's organization. They're full of imagery. Meant to influence every element of design, marketing, and communications. They position you to stand out for what you stand for.
The Big Idea is valuable because it's shared. The Big Idea gives an organization a common vocabulary and provides a source of accountability. Therein lies the importance of design backed by a Big Idea.
The Big Idea is a target. The objective is to communicate a message. You can know whether or not you're hitting that target by testing your work against the Big Idea. Design without a message is like shooting in the dark. The only target is what a client likes or dislikes, which isn't often an excellent gauge of success.
I especially love when a client questions a design decision because it doesn’t live up to the Big Idea. I'd much rather go back and forth on how to make a design live up to a Big Idea than respond to comments like, "I just don't like that type of blue."
As a mentor of mine once said, all communication is goal oriented. At Trischler Design Co., the goal is to communicate your Big Idea so that you stand out for what you stand for. We'll do everything we can to meet that objective. We realize that we're not for everyone though. It's a lot cheaper upfront to focus only on design without a Big Idea. There are plenty of resources out there like Fiverr, 99 Designs, your nephew, or other highly qualified freelance designers. Options like these are perfectly fine depending on the objectives of a project. However, consider Trischler Design Co. for solutions with distinct intentions—that are driven by your Big Idea, rather than focused on being on-trend.
If you are contemplating a new brand identity or website update, consider starting with your Big Idea. If need some help, reach out. Let's grab a coffee to discuss how to reinvigorate your organization with words that light the way for everything you do.
Kick off your next project with Trischler Design Co.
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Photo credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth and D. Magee (University of California, Santa Cruz), K. Whitaker (University of Connecticut), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), P. Oesch (University of Geneva), and the Hubble Legacy Field team;