The way we work

The The Green Boat design process process

“We apply the same meticulous design process
no matter what the type of project or client”

After many calls from prospective clients asking about the design process and theway that we work, we thought it would be useful to have a page on our website for potential clients to read a little more about our working procedures.

Whilst each design discipline may have different nuances, our core approach to a design project tends to be the same.

The following is not an exact prediction as to how your project will proceed, but if you have little knowledge of the design process – hopefully it will provide some guidance as to what to expect!

Unfamiliar with the design process? That’s understandable

Larger clients with their own marketing departments are usually quite familiar with the design process and deal with advertising agencies, design consultants and designers on a regular basis. The marketing staff in these organisations are often classically trained in marketing and have an in-depth knowledge of the processes.

Often they provide a thorough written brief as to their requirement and what they’d like to achieve with their design project. However this isn’t always the case and many larger more established brand companies still require the detail required to produce a successful design solution to be teased out of them. Which of course we’re happy to do.

Smaller companies or individuals, with little or no experience of dealing with designers and the design process often require a considerable amount of hand holding, not only through the briefing process but sometimes the entire project. We are happy to give guidance, especially to smaller companies, start-ups and individuals as we fully understand that this is an area which they are unfamiliar with and it may seem rather challenging and daunting at first.

Developing a brief

Usually, the process starts with defining an accurate brief. This is important as all of our creative endeavours will be measured against this and we will constantly refer back to it to qualify our design work. The level of complexity that the brief involves depends very much on the size and nature of the project.

On large more detailed projects the brief could be a large document supported by in depth research or sometimes it can be purely a verbal communication or an email? But, no matter the size or nature of a project, we try to understand as much as possible about your business, products, service offering and culture.

This involves providing information on the following:

  • Company details
  • Project or brand name
  • Overall and detailed project requirements
  • Objectives
  • Unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Target audience
  • Competitor review
  • Evaluation of current brand or company status
  • Existing strategy or advertising (if any)
  • Desired perception
  • Positioning
  • Key messages and tone of voice
  • Restrictions and/or mandatory requirements
  • Brand structure (if more than one brand)
  • Number and types of products (if part of a range)
  • Proposed or preferred packaging format (if known)
  • Pack sizes and variants (if known)

“It’s not essential that you compile all of this information before you contact us – but it would be extremely useful to give it some thought and make some notes – for your own benefit as much as ours. It will help crystalise your thoughts on your requirement and enable us to get a much better picture of what you might need and provide a solution that is right for you”.

Agreeing a budget

Different companies have completely different budgetary expectations. A large multi national company will usually allocate an amount for various projects into their marketing budgets for the year. Whilst a smaller company, start-up or individual may not have given the cost of a project much consideration, either through inexperience, lack of knowledge or just – not knowing where to start?

We are used to working with all sizes of company from large organisations with adept marketing departments to medium sized companies – right through to ‘one man band start-ups’. We’ll do our best to tailor our design work to provide you with a effective solution within your budget and provide you with a cost effective marketing edge.

We like to work on an agreed fee basis. All of our proposals are well defined – that way there are no hidden surprises.

Try to look at design as an investment not an expense. Good design will pay for itself over and over again. It will probably be one of the most important decisions you make with regard to your business and brand – so think realistically about your budgets. Remember – good design lasts.


All of the design work that we produce has strategy at it’s very heart – whether it is an existing design strategy previously developed by the client with another agency or strategy developed in liaison with our client by us during the project. The depth and complexity of the design strategy depends very much on the type of client, it’s products and requirement.

Producing great design work

Our process starts with fully understanding the brief and your requirements and developing a vision for the project. It draws upon ideation techniques: research, good reference, market trends, brainstorming, idea creation and other innovation methods. Visualisation and refinement follow.

We try to generate a good spectrum of ideas constantly referring to the requirements of the brief. We are always looking to produce great ideas and have developed a good set of filters for editing our ideas and measuring our work against. Our aim is to produce work that is:

  • Distinctive
  • Recognisable
  • Memorable
  • Emotive
  • Visible
  • Adaptable
  • Campaignable

 Working in stages

Virtually all of our projects are progressed in stages. Each stage requiring client sign-off before the next stage is commenced. We invoice in stages too and with new clients we usually ask for a deposit before we start work – please see our terms and conditions for more information.

Stages will vary slightly from project to project. Obviously much larger design projects involve more complex aspects such as Research at different stages of the project – both Quantitive and Qualitative.

But for those less familiar with design – the following are typical stages of design.


Agree brief including:
Overall and detailed project requirements,
Objectives, Unique selling proposition (USP), Target audience,
Evaluation of current brand or company status,
Review competitors and familiarise ourselves with market place.

Agree Ballpark budgets, stages and outline timing.

Stage 1. Design
Brainstorm initial ideas and produce multiple scamp visuals for evaluation and discussion internally. Seeking the big idea.
Select a number of ideas to develop and refine into visuals to show client (depending on budget) together with rationale behind each design.

Presentation of design solution/s.
Client sign off.

Stage 2. Design Development
Develop the chosen design with due regard to clients comments exploring or making any changes necessary.

Presentation of development to client.
Client sign off.

Stage 3. Secondary and tertiary design aspects
Develop outline ruling governing implementation of secondary and tertiary aspects of design.
This may include typographic styles, photography or illustration that are not core aspects of the design work.

Presentation of secondary and tertiary design aspects.
Client sign off.

Stage 4. Implementation
Apply design across agreed range of items as highly finished design visuals.

Presentation of design solution/s to client.
Client sign off.

Stage 5. Artwork
Produce master artworks for all core elements.
Produce individual artworks for all items required in project providing their design has been considered in previous stages.

Stage 6. Cardboard engineering, proofing and mock-ups
Provide cardboard engineering, proofs, dummies or mock-ups as required.
Client sign off.

Stage 5. Print and Production
Commission printer or production company and art direct to provide finished
product to agreed specifications.

Deliver finished project to client.
Client sign off.

Please contact us to discuss your project in more detail

As mentioned previously – each design discipline has it’s own particular set of stages and in turn – each individual project will vary according to the specifics of the project.

However, hopefully you will have found the above outlined process informative and I would encourage you to contact us if you have a project which we can discuss in more detail.