Communicating Your Product Vision to a Design Firm
Design is all about collaboration. When you utilize a design firm, you gain a variety of different opinions and perspectives - each enhancing the process. However, to make the process more efficient, a firm will ask their clients a lot of questions; we want to understand what you believe success looks like, and then work with you to create that success. We want our clients to collaborate on their product's journey!
In this article, I will suggest a few easy areas for our clients to get involved: form inspiration - stylistic ideas for the shape and details of your product; as well as one method for color selection.
When starting a new project, even designers need a nudge to get their creative juices flowing; they need form inspiration. To start, I like to ask clients to come up with descriptive adjectives that apply to your product aspirations: tough, lightweight, rough, glossy, curvy, etc. Providing only a list of descriptors is an effective way to communicate your vision to the designer.
You can take this a step further with images. I like to use my list of descriptors and make digital folders for each; as I find images, I may eliminate or create new folders based on my discoveries. Keep in mind, the images do not need to be related to your product at all; you may discover a recessed logo on a bar of soap is exactly what you want. Ask for it!
Try using these three resources to find images:
Google: After you decide on categories, a few product ideas will jump into your head. Google these! Use an image search or go to websites to save images. You may find better images later, but this is a great place to start.
Pinterest: When you have exhausted the ideas in your head, turn here. Pinterest curates results through keyword-based searches; so get creative if you are struggling to find images. I start many searches with “product design” and then add my descriptors: kitchen, soft, round, tonal, etc. If you find a great image, check its related images to find new content.
leManoosh: Sometimes the broadness of Pinterest can be overwhelming. leManoosh helps by restricting you to predefined filters. All images are given defining keywords, such as black, buttons, electronics, ergonomics, gaming, matte, etc. Try to search on your own or click on the keywords underneath each image.
Choosing the family of colors for your product design can be challenging! You have landed on the form, but still need to apply colors. Depending on your company, you may be searching for new, unique colors; you may desire a slight modernization to your current palette; or you may have a set of colors already defined by your company's brand guidelines
This section will explain one strategy I use that leads to new, unique colors which coordinate well together. If your company has a brand guidelines or you are looking to update an existing color palette, this exercise probably will not apply.
Step 1: Choose an Image When choosing an image, keep the industry and primary user in mind; try to think of an aspirational location or activity that your consumers may enjoy. If your product involves cooking, this may be a Moroccan spice market, a vineyard in Italy, or even an picture-perfect brunch spread. The goal is to choose an image that will generate excitement!
Step 2: Pull Out Colors Using your image, upload the image to a software with a color-picking tool, such as Photoshop. If you do not have one handy, it is okay to stop here and share any images with your designer. Use the tool to capture appealing colors; it is okay if you end up choosing two greens and three shades of red, but try to capture the essence of the photo using 4-6 colors. These colors will serve as your color palette – inspired by your photo.
Step 3: Apply the Colors Using the palette, ask your designer to apply the colors to your product. It may be best to stick to the palette, but sometimes it helps to introduce an additional neutral color and utilize your palette for the accent colors. Try both and see what looks best!
If you are able to utilize some of these techniques, my hope is that you will feel more connected and satisfied during your product's development. The team at Lexicon enjoys designing products and we love when our clients are active in the process. Good luck!