Sara Scharlau

5 must-ask questions when designing for multiple pieces

By Sara Scharlau on June 18, 2015

Often, designers at agencies like Core will work on numerous clients at once. This has its perks of course; more time for experimentation, exposure to various different industries, a ‘fresh’ perspective.

So, the fact that I have the pleasure of working, within Core’s doors, on a team that focuses all its attention on one of our largest clients, can be somewhat abnormal. But I enjoy it, as it combines the deeper brand knowledge that comes from submersion in one brand (just like in-house) with the creative atmosphere of an agency.

This is a recipe for success.

My team works on concepts that tell a story that needs to be conveyed over a wide range of different pieces, from packaging to print ads. Unlike designing for a single piece, this requires a great deal of knowledge about the brand, their audience, and their message.

Each piece has its own unique set of challenges and needs. And it can be daunting when you are tasked with telling the same story over a large variety of pieces.

Designing for multiple pieces can be a cumbersome task, but through the years we have come to learn how to make jobs like these operate more effectively.

Do you have a story/concept you’re working on that needs to be designed or told through multiple pieces, from packaging to billboards? Here’s a few questions that help us frame up the best, most efficient approach:

  1. How is it being used (print, digital, point-of-purchase, etc.)?
    • Having a list of all the foreseen applications always can help you map out how the different placements may or may not work together.
  1. What is the purpose in each particular usage?
    • By getting into more detail, you are able to determine if there are any particular goals in mind for each and every application. This can either alter or support your first instincts, making the plan stronger.
  1. Who is each piece talking to?
    • Down to even the smallest detail, each application might have a different type of viewer. Having an intimate understanding of the people you are trying to target can really help with design choices. And what’s important to them can help you organize things accordingly.
  1. Are there multiple pieces in each usage?
    • For something like point-of-purchase, there are sometimes several pieces in close proximity to each other. Why not make each one tell a piece of the story? That way, when all pieces are put together they help the viewer get the whole message. Without being too repetitive.
  1. Is there a vested interest in any one particular piece?
    • Sometimes you may already know which one piece is going to be the focal point or has the most needs/concerns. Usually this is the piece to start with, as it can help you frame up how you will approach the other pieces.

Thinking like this has not only helped my team make better, more dynamic designs, it has continually helped our client effectively achieve their communication goals.

Where in these five questions does your company typically have the most trouble? Do you have a proven approach when working to complete multiple pieces that tell the same story?