There is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ creative process at OneAgency

Have you ever looked at a digital advertising campaign and wondered, ‘How on earth did they come up with that idea?’ Well, you’re not alone. Striking design can be enough to stop you in your tracks and pay attention, clever wordplay can incite an emotional connection – and sometimes it’s the most simple ideas that stick with us.

Designers and brand marketeers often go through a lengthy process of both elimination and refinement to get to the final execution of these inspiring campaigns. Next time you see something in print, or even a YouTube video that blows you away, it’s important to understand how brands get to these final realisations.

Every single project is different, depending on a multitude of factors – from client needs, to media type and campaign refinements – but here’s some insight from our creatives to explain how we work as a team to develop some of our creative outputs.

The process

To design a successful campaign, it’s important that creative teams work together. With studios of designers responsible for producing multiple pieces of work every day, each one has to adhere to a high standard. By sharing the ideas process, it’s not the responsibility of one designer to come up with the creative ideas for every campaign! Trying to come up with original ideas all day every day can be difficult, which is why brainstorming is essential to start the process, so that each designer can contribute ideas that can be combined to produce something memorable. 

So, what exactly does the design process from ideation to completion look like?
Here at OneAgency, we approach every project slightly differently, depending on the client requirements, but generally, it tends to follow this structure:

Firstly, we have a client meeting – we always try to get a member of our creative team involved here, so they can hear exactly what the client is after and anything they want included in the concepts. Next, it’s onto a project team briefing back at the agency. This includes a review and agreement of the full creative brief that has come out of the initial client meeting.

Then, creative concepts are worked up by one or more of our designers. This usually depends on the size of the project and availability of the designers. Once they’ve worked on around three concepts, there is then an Internal review. This is where feedback is essential. At this point, we decide to either hone down certain concepts, refining and improving them, or choose the preferred concepts to take forward to presentation.

Once the concepts are ready to show to the client, they are presented to the client by the creative and project teams. With feedback from the client, the designer then begins the final stage of creative development to work out any niggles the client may have with the design and finalise it for approval. Then it’s time for client approval. The most important stage! We want our clients to love the work we produce for them.

After client approval, the creative is worked into the required collateral and final media and artworked or resized. Once this is done, the final pieces of work are approved and completed both internally and by the client, and that’s the whole process from start to finish.

Ideas and Initial Concepts

Now you know the general process of design for a campaign, let’s talk about the creativity behind it. Behind every good campaign are dozens of ideas, designs and pieces of inspiration. 

How does a design team begin to come up with ideas?

We spoke to some of the creative team here at One Agency, and the answers varied from designer to designer, with each one finding inspiration somewhere different. Inspiration for campaigns within the team is taken both from the brief and brand behind it and external sources such as Pinterest, design websites, blogs and exhibitions.

One Agency Creative Designer, Louise Jefferies stays inspired by “keeping up with other things that are going on in the industry.” New developments and award-winning campaigns are a  great source of inspiration and a source of encouragement to produce something equally as impressive as her peers in the industry. Another rewarding aspect of designing for Louise is “finding solutions to briefs. It gives my brain a workout and makes our clients happy when you come up with a great solution, so the thought of that just makes you want to do your best on every project.”

Inspiration is one part of the process, the other is research. You could have a great idea, but if it doesn’t fit the client or brief – it won’t be suitable. That’s why research is so essential before creating a great campaign. Paul Slack, our Senior Creative Designer understands the importance of effective research before getting his head down and brainstorming designs. “Initially I do lots of research and gather as much information as possible (this is why the creative brief is absolutely key). I compile a list of questions for the client/account handler to make sure that I’m absolutely crystal clear on the brief and then map/sketch out the key points that the brief is trying to resolve. From here I can start to create a mood board/scamp out some initial ideas.”

Initial ideas that are suggested in a brainstorming session could be anything from a campaign tagline, colour scheme, imagery guidelines, or event layout – it all depends on the job at hand. Brainstorming sessions can often see a brief evolve much further, uncovering new ideas to discuss with the client.

Developing a concept

When the initial ideas are down, then it’s time to develop them. This is a particularly crucial step, because not every idea can be transformed into a full concept to present to the client.

How does a design team know which concepts to move forward?

Some ideas will need to be let go. Knowing which ones you should expand and develop and which ones to take forward to the presentation is a skill learned over time but it’s important to choose the concepts that best suit the brief – not necessarily the one you like the most. Client feedback plays a big part in this further down the line, but in the initial stages, the creative team has a lot of decisions to make.

For Louise, even when she’s struggling to come up with a ‘good idea’, she might start working on a ‘bad idea’ and she says: “It will usually evolve then. New ideas pop into your head while you are being creative.” 

While designing, ensuring you’re creating something “that will cut through the 1000s of marketing messages the audience will see that day,” is something our Senior Designer, Neil Harrison pays particular attention to. This means making sure elements of your design are original and innovative. They need ‘stand out’ against competitors’ media and advertisements. 

After the initial ideas and concepts, there is then an Internal review. This is where feedback is essential and much needed. At this point decisions are made as to which concepts to take forward to presentation. When an idea has been decided on amongst the client team, there are a number of factors to be considered when deciding who will work on the brief and design the final ideas that will be presented to the client.

When deciding which designer should work on a brief include the type of work that the brief is requesting. For our Production Director, Louise Farr, her years of experience means she knows how important it is to match a creative to the brief, “Good creatives have the ability to turn their hands to most forms of work. They will always have a preferred niche or sway more towards a particular aspect of creative than another. So it’s knowing what those strengths are and exploiting that! Brand ownership is another factor… 

“We align creatives with particular clients/brands, again to play on their strengths and key skills. All our clients will have a brand ambassador appointed to them. This creative will play a key role in defending, enhancing and promoting the agreed brand values and persona. And finally, unfortunately – deadline and availability will always have a part to play! Sometimes creatives can get booked up weeks in advance – it’s lucky that we have such a strong team of creatives that can create high-quality work but at the same time are incredibly versatile and adaptable, it helps massively!”

Staying on-track and meeting the clients expectations

As well as the initial ideation process, when designing starts, it has to be overseen by the production team. They will assign a designer, or several designers, to a job. This usually depends on the size of the project and availability within the team. All jobs have to be carefully project-managed by the production team, to ensure the task at hand is on-track and meets the agreed deadlines.. 

Once the concepts are tweaked and finalised, they are presented to the client by the creative and project teams for that all important feedback. For Paul, “getting good quality/constructive feedback is essential to the collaborative design process”. Once feedback has been received, we then assess it internally, making sure that it is crystal clear. Then we reiterate the feedback and actions to make sure all of the essential points are understood and can be implemented.

With feedback from the client, the designer then begins the final stage of creative development to work out any refinements the client may want to make. Ultimately, we want clients to love the work we produce to them – but a designer’s integrity is still important and as Paul says: “If there is feedback that I feel is detrimental to the design/concept, we will defend it in a constructive way.” We pride ourselves in our collective creative expertise and aim to collaborate with our clients to create work we all really believe in! 

After any additional amends have been made, it’s time for final client approval. The most important stage! Once everything is approved by the client, we then work the campaign into the required collateral/final media until everything has been completed and approved both internally and externally. 

Getting to this stage can be a long process, especially when there are many stakeholders involved, often with many different ideas and opinions. Our creative teams work with our clients every step of the way, to ensure the best idea is selected to move forward with. Knowing when to let an idea go is a big part of ensuring the final product is on-brief, original and on-brand for the client. We want everything that leaves the studio to “concentrate on what the target audience will experience, not just the corporation”, and as Neil says, it’s really simple to know what ideas will work – “One that answers the brief in the simplest and most powerful way”.

The creative process might not sound simple (it’s not!) – but with so many brilliant minds in our creative team designing impressive campaigns day in, day out they make hitting our briefs and impressing the clients a breeze.

If you’re looking for an agency to help you step up your brand marketing, or looking for that next ‘big idea’ to wow new/existing customers, our incredibly talented creative team is here for you. Whether you’re looking to level up your digital comms, or even run a new out-of-home ad, we would love to discuss your project! Get in touch today – give us a call, or fill in a contact form here.

Share this article.

Thirsty for more?