As a designer, it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that you have the creative process down pat - initial discovery interview, first comps, review and edit, follow-up comps, finishing touches, boom. Your clients are thrilled, you’re patting yourself on the back for a job well done, everyone’s happy. But then you start a new project, and you’re reminded that the design process is anything but predictable. Every client is different, and every client has a different way of expressing their needs. In addition, every project takes on slightly different relationship with your personal taste and style, which requires keeping an objective mindset about the style you’re bringing to your work and your client’s opinions towards it.
Not only is this process different for each client, it’s also different for each designer. I’ve often wished I could be a fly on the wall while a fellow designer takes a project from discovery to delivery. Here on our blog, we’re hoping to provide a little of that fly-on-the-wall insight into our process. Every once in a while we’ll be posting case studies of some of our favorite projects, taking you from discovery, to concepting, to comps, to final delivery.
And now, for our first case study (drumroll, please)...
Unroll.Me is a groundbreaking new inbox management tool which allows members to unsubscribe from lists or “roll up” emails into one tidy daily digest instead of receiving them individually. It brings organization to the user’s life, reduces clutter, and gives the user a sense of control over the inevitable flow of unwelcome email - all with one incredibly simple five-minute registration process.
When Unroll.Me approached 6D Creative (Storycode), they were just on the verge of launching their brand new mobile app (previously Unroll.Me existed only as a web app). They wanted to rebrand with a mark that would celebrate their entry into the mobile realm and their rising popularity. As part of our initial discovery process, we ask each of our clients to complete the same exercise: pick the three adjectives which, in a perfect world, people would use to describe your brand. The instructions are deceptively simple, and the conversation which ensues between members of the client’s team while they narrow down their adjectives is often as informative as the final selections themselves.
The three descriptors which Unroll.Me eventually decided upon were “simple,” “essential,” and “smart/expert.”
Given those adjectives, we worked up some initial comps:
But after presenting our first round of comps, it became clear that we weren’t quite hitting the nail on the head. So we went back to the drawing board. Part of doing justice to client feedback is reading between the lines. Some of the most important adjectives don’t always rise to the surface in the initial branding exercise, and this can be for any number of reasons - they seem too obvious to be stated, the clients are so close to the project that they assume certain traits are assumed, or they just get de-prioritized - after all, three is a pretty limited number to narrow it down to. In this case, it also seemed that the more emotional characteristics of the brand - “essential,” “smart” - trumped the more practical characteristics such as style. So we thought a bit more about where this identity would appear and who its competitors would be, and we realized that, although they hadn’t stated it, what Unroll.Me most likely wanted was a mark which was in line with all the latest UI trends and would stand up to other trendy brands. For those of you who follow our work -- especially our non-app work -- you’ll know that we generally defer to more timeless and trend-agnostic design. But in this case, we saw a great opportunity to indulge in some of our favorite current graphic trends. Flat UI, bright colors, icon-like imagery, and an element of personality and quirkiness all factored into our second round of comps.
Here are some of the sketches and marks that followed:
Our hard work didn’t go unrewarded, and this second round of comps left the clients excited and energized. We narrowed it down to three options:
The clients invited the opinions of a few other members of their team, and after some more narrowing down and final touches, we presented the final product:
...The new brand color palette:
...And some mockups of the new mark on swag, the website, and the new app:
Not only was the brand that we delivered smart and simple like the client requested - communicating those qualities through its boldness and memorability - it also invites the user in with a quirky twist in the “U” that suggests action and participation. It’s friendly and bright, and it will look great as an eye-catching icon for Unroll.Me’s new mobile app.
The clients were thrilled.
We patted ourselves on the back.
Read the case study here.
Elena Cronin is the Senior Designer at 6D Creative/Mobile, providing accessible designs that are rooted in a clear understanding of clients’ visions. She specializes in identity design, print layout, and UX/UI, as well as illustration and data visualization. Her latest design obsession is learning hand lettering and brush script typography. Elena is based in 6D Global’s Portland, OR office.