Steps of the process
Collateral package for conferences
Because of timelines, color-correcting, printing errors, and working with third party printers, designing for print is much more complex than digital. Our conference presenters needed print materials the most so we focused on this first. This included banners, table cloths, business cards, swag, and flyers.
After deciding on what types of materials they needed, we researched different print companies to compare prices and product options. Each design has to be triple checked before printing to make sure formatting is correct for color, sizing, bleeds, and cropping so it helps to prepare for this at the beginning. I did not want to be caught off guard near the end and have to rework a design because the dimensions were wrong.
Customers get enough promotional “stuff” thrown at them, so I knew that each piece had to be targeted and focused. We wanted to make only what was necessary to inform people before it became noise. This means knowing exactly what each piece is intended to do. Banners attract visitors and flyers pique just enough interest enough to drive action. Everything else needed to be left out.
Sketching and planning
With my background in fine art, I’m comfortable enough to admit that visuals are usually the icing on the cake—not the cake. Before any sketching, I always prioritize my content with outlined text, then wireframes. Once the large areas of content are mapped out, copywriting comes next. Only after this is roughed out do I start any visual design or polishing using design tools like Adobe XD or InDesign.
For each new piece of collateral, I worked with our marketing team to come up with text that felt welcoming. I simplified the jargon and focused on problem-solving benefits (instead of features) whenever I could. Each piece of copy could get progressively more complex if need be, but it always had to start with an introductory tagline or headline.
In the past, we had started with technical wording, and customers wouldn’t read it. I wrote and edited the copy to make sure it was attracting customers to our product instead of presenting everything we offered at once. Longer brochures and documents could be presented later after a visitor showed interest.
Design and settling on illustration style
This is the most natural part for me because of my experience, so I spend this time in my flow state moving things around and making adjustments until everything feels right.
Most of the branding elements had been established during the redesign, but I put off a spot illustration style because of the unique complexity of it. At the time it wasn’t required, and I focused on other projects instead.
Our Editage partner (manuscript editing services) started working with us on their updated marketing site so we had a chance to replace their hero illustration, which was being used on our site, for our own. This would establish a product illustration template for our marketing and work well next to our flat geometric style that was used elsewhere. I wanted it to be reminiscent of a classic mid-century modern cartoon style to fit our brand. I chose backpack and hiking imagery to fit in with our mountain theme and because the author services felt like a tool set that could be used along the publishing journey.
The final stage is proofreading and file preparation. I’m a measure twice, cut once kind of guy, so at this stage I usually “measure” three times to be safe. Color accuracy is notoriously difficult to match with digital screens, so extra care had to be taken to ensure legibility and accuracy. I always sweat a little bit when I send my files off to the printers because I know from first-hand experience the pain of seeing a typo printed hundreds of times. Any errors reflect badly on our company, so I take this part seriously.