When we embark on a custom awards project, the more detailed information we can collect from the client on their design goals and objectives, the better chance we have of delivering on their needs.
Clients have provided us with this information in a variety of ways: written creative briefs, detailed specs, rough “cocktail napkin” sketches, images/links to other recognition awards they have seen and like, and detailed computer-generated illustrations.
In many cases, however, clients don’t have a specific award design in mind. Instead, they have a more generalized feeling or message that they want to convey through the award. These clients often approach us with a “clean sheet of paper”, and give use free reign to come up with the initial design concepts.
Even in these instances, however, it is helpful to have some tools that can provide us with general design direction, and serve as inspiration and guidance when developing initial concepts.
A few particularly effective methods of conveying this design direction are mood boards, brand boards, and branding guideline documents. In many cases, these are used by designers to help communicate to a client what their recommended design direction is prior to moving into the implementation phase of the project. In our case, however, they can serve the reverse purpose: a method for our clients to convey the design personality and aesthetic that they would like to achieve with their awards.
Mood boards, sometimes referred to as inspiration boards, are a collection of images, text, colors and textures that provide thematic guidance for the design. They can by either physical boards or digital boards. Increasingly, we are seeing Pinterest being used as a highly effective method of creating mood boards – both as a vehicle for creating and conveying the board, as well as a source of finding elements with which to create the board.
Brand boards are an integrated, at-a-glance collection of a brand’s graphic elements: primary logos, secondary logos, text, color palates, and icons. Collectively, these elements convey the brand values, attributes, and personality.
Brand style guidelines are written instructions on what constitutes the brand, and how it should be used in a variety of applications. These can range from a single page to very long, detailed documents (we had one client send us brand guidelines that covered over 80 pages).
All of these tools can be very effective methods of providing us with general direction for a custom awards design project, and we would welcome any of our clients to provide us with one or more of these tools for our projects!