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One Concept Method

What is the One Concept Method?

The One Concept Method is a process method commonly used in design where I, as the designer, only present one concept to you, the client. Now that may sound like bad practice at first, or you may be wondering, “but what if I don’t like it?”

I understand those concerns, and we’ll get to that, but hear me out.

I feel like there’s this general expectation that when someone hires a designer for a logo or branding project, the client should get to see every single concept, no matter how good or bad, without regard to whether or not it’s actually in keeping with a brand’s mission and values.

This absolutely may not be true for everyone, but I’ve had it happen to me at least a couple of times in my design career. The ‘never-satisfied’, “I see the designs you’re presenting to me, but show me more. What else did you come up with?” Or, when showing a client anything, there’s the classically dreaded response of, “I’ll know it when I see it.” 🚩 Or, the client sees all of the concepts and chooses one that is just plain not good. It doesn’t fit their brand, it’s not even a good design – it was a throwaway sketch to get an idea out.

Those clients are now massive red flags

Because of those prior experiences, I had started to only provide three primary logo concepts (and I included in my contracts that only three concepts would be presented). The first concept would always be the more obvious, safe idea. The second would be a little bit more bold, and the third would be the most out there, but I would always be able to justify the design choices. At that point, it was just a matter of whether or not the client wanted to be that “daring,” so to speak.

That method definitely worked better. However, what I found with that method was that I would get feedback from the client with requests such as “take element 2 from Logo A, element 1 from Logo C, and add them to Logo B, but remove element 3 from Logo B first. And maybe add element 5 from Logo C. By the time these logos were done, they honestly looked terrible. They looked (and rightly so) cobbled together into one Franken-logo. None of it fit together and the logo was no longer rooted in the research and strategy we had already worked so hard to create! If the logo had strayed that far from what we were working toward, what did that mean for their entire brand identity?

Spoiler alert: nothing good.

It meant that their brand was having an identity crisis and didn’t know who it was or who they served. And that identity crisis confused their audience, which not only didn’t attract the people they wanted to attract, but it actively prevented trust from being built because it came off as less professional and reliable.

Another thing that happens when a client receives too many concepts or choices is a thing called decision paralysis, or decision fatigue. This happens more when a client is presented with more than three concepts, but it still happens with just three, as well.

So I started working with the One Concept Method, and I’m definitely not alone in doing this within the Design community. Google “One Concept Method” and you’ll find endless results of designers blogging about it, just like I am now. Despite its name, the One Concept Method does not mean that I only consider and explore one concept. This is the part where you trust yourself in booking with me to create your brand identity.

After our strategy collaboration call, once we make it to the actual design phase of the project, I do both a written and sketched brain dump of every single idea I have. From there, I’ll return to the strategy and your brand’s mission, values, and core messaging, and choose the best three or four concepts to vectorize in Adobe Illustrator and explore further with things like element placement, versatility, typography, etc.

It’s all about strategy, research, and listening to understand

After I’ve refined some concepts, I revisit the strategy, brand mission, values, and messaging again. From there, I will select the concept that checks absolutely all of the boxes it needs to in order to best reflect your brand. It may not be the obvious choice. But it will be strategic and you will get insight into my design choices and reasonings within the brand presentation, bringing us all onto the same page.

So what do I do with this single concept? I make the entire brand identity. Once the identity is done, I will show it to you in the afore-mentioned brand presentation and explain my design decisions either live on a call or in a prerecorded presentation. The One Concept Method also does not mean that you as the client do not get any input. It’s your identity, you absolutely, one hundred percent, get input. You’ll have a set number of rounds of revisions included in your contract. I will make your requested changes in order to make it something you love and that feels authentic to you and your business, while still strategically aligning with your mission and values.

Now the question: What if the client hates the selected concept?

I have never personally had that happen while using this method. However, if the client hates the concept I present to them, I will take the feedback I receive from the rejected concept and keep it all in the front of my mind as I return to the other concepts that I selected for refinement to work with one of those that may be a “safer” option.

Still worried about only being presented with one concept? Let’s chat about it in the comments!

Or are you already gearing up to ruffle some feathers in your industry? Click here to inquire and get started on your new identity!

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