As a designer, it is easy to get bogged down in the world of making something look picture perfect. Manual kerning, that right amount of white space and the perfect harmonious relationship of elements, colour and type, is at times all-consuming. Not to say these aren’t crucial elements in the design process, but it can’t ever be the entire crux of a design.


The big idea follows an approach based on a predetermined method and not on the subjective expression and inspirations of the designer. The big idea is an objective way to create ‘meaning making’ and to present information in a relevant. It is essentially about creating meaning through communication and the relationship between the design and the intended audience.

Graphic design should not be a personal expression of an art form. Yes, a designer needs to bring their trained skills and aesthetic sensibilities to the table, but the essential part of a design is how it communicates meaning. It needs to have a predetermined context of exposure, along with how the clients will experience it, and how the target audience will perceive it.

It maybe lots of smaller ideas that inform the decision-making process, allowing the finished product to be the result of something that is not just beautiful but relevant. Whether it is a concept for a large-scale advertising campaign or the creation of a simple yet effective logo for a business, the big idea is the crucial element for a successful design. The idea should be fully formed from the outset as a way to successfully create meaning and communicate with the audience. From there, all elements in the design process are informed decisions that stem from the solid fountain of the core idea. It is the difference between creating something that is just aesthetically pleasing to creating something purposeful and relevant.

When first receiving a client brief it is important to question everything from the outset. Look at it as a problem that needs solving. Begin by not progressing a single idea too far. Draw thumbnails and explore various avenues until you see what sticks. Collaborate and share ideas because everyone sees things differently. Draw sketches to develop a concept and keep your mind open to possibilities of what may arise. Strong conceptual ideas can present themselves straight off the bat. Other times it can be a lengthy and tedious process before finding the perfect solution.

The simplest ideas can take the longest to achieve because you have to go through the process of stripping back everything that isn’t compulsory. Then often, all that remains is what is necessary.