Design management is a business discipline that uses project management, design, strategy, and supply chain techniques to control a creative process, support a culture of creativity, and build a structure and organisation for design. The objective of design management is to develop and maintain a business environment in which an organisation can achieve its strategic and mission goals through design, and by establishing and managing an efficient and effective system. Design management is a comprehensive activity at all levels of business (operational to strategic), from the discovery phase to the execution phase. Simply put, design management is the business aspect of design. Design management encompasses the ongoing processes, business decisions, and strategies that enable innovation and create effectively-designed products, services, communications, environments, and brands that enhance our quality of life and provide organizational success.

We shall be focusing on making us understand what it actually means to handle or manage design projects with the discipline – design management.

If you’re working on a creative project for your business – new sales literature, a website, campaign materials, etc. – how do you know when your concept and design is “good enough?”

The creative process can be challenging for non-designers and designers alike.  But the key to success is to follow a clear process throughout the design project with specific criteria you’ll use to evaluate the work. The key to success is to carefully manage the design project.

To improve your design process, focus on the right elements at the right time.  It’s easy to look at initial concepts and get stuck on certain elements rather than concept itself.  For example, if a designer presents you with 20 logos, you may be most drawn to those that use a particular color palette.  But yet the color palette can be applied to any of those 20 logos; you should first decide which concept works best, then apply color to it.


Secondly, do well to remember Establishing Specific Goals for Your Piece, whatever it is.  Try to make the process as objective as possible.  It’s challenging, but when you lean toward objectivity, you can avoid a great deal of re-work and headache that adds time and cost to design projects with (frequently) little measurable improvement to the end product.


These processes shall surely walk you through accomplishing and satisfying the great design task thus:


1.  Define your goals in a creative brief. The brief is a document that you and your creative team (writers, designers) will reference throughout the project.  Use it to list your deadlines, background and creative requirements for the project.  For example, you’ll explain your offer/call-to-action, key messages, rough copy and content,  mechanical requirements, and your branding requirements (colors, tone, personality, etc.).

You’ll also want to document the criteria that you’ll use to evaluate the creative.  For example, you may say that the piece needs to create a strong sense of trust with a powerful call-to-action that triggers immediate action.

2.  Identify concepts. If you have a design team or vendor, they’ll use your creative brief to generate a number of rough concepts, storyboards, drawings etc. for you to review.  If you’re creating the piece on your own, get your team together and brainstorm if appropriate.  You’re looking for overarching ideas that you can flesh out and finalize in later stages.

Need help finding inspiration?   keep a sample library of great ads, literature, presentations, email offers, paper samples, premiums, etc. They can really inspire a great idea. Doing a printed piece, TRY walking through your favorite art supply store.


3.  Hone in on one or two concepts. Your goal is to narrow down to one or two that best meet your criteria for the project.  Ask whether the concept inspires the necessary action from your target audience.  Be as objective as possible and concentrate on what the creative is suppose to achieve, not what the design basically entails.

4a4.  Refine the execution. Here’s where you can focus on the final details – photography, final copy, graphics, colors, etc.  If you’ve done a great job with your creative brief, it will be much easier for your design team to produce a piece that meets your criteria.

Always give direct and honest feedback, but it’s not always best to tell a designer or vendor exactly what to do.  After all, they’re the designer, and they may have much more creative ideas for solving your dilemmas.  Instead, tell them why you’d like a particular change made.  And you should be able to tie everything back to your creative brief and requirements.


5. Produce the piece. Hopefully you’ve stayed on schedule and on budget.  If not, look back at what went wrong … you can learn something for the next project.

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