To be a good designer, you must be curious about life; the strongest ideas are born from the experiences we have and the knowledge we gain from them. The more we see and the more we know, the more ammunition we can stockpile for
Using mind maps helps you consider as many different design directions as possible, and at the stage when they’re most needed. It’s a relatively straightforward process of word association. You write a word that’s central to the design brief,
and then branch out from it, writing other words that spring to mind. These additional words could come after some thought, or after researching the central topic. The idea is to form as large a “thought cloud” as possible, giving you a strong tool to refer to when it comes to the next stage—sketching.
Mind-mapping is particularly useful in the design profession because it’s very effective for working through these important steps of the design process:
• Collecting your thoughts
• Generating ideas
• Getting into a creative groove
• Associating words with image
Here is an example of how mind mapping can be used to generate ideas in the design of a brand mark, or logo. In this case designer David Airey working for Komplett Fitness, a provider of training equipment and consulting based in Norway, most likely began with a creative briefing from his client and took what information he could and generated a mind map as a means of focusing the conceptual underpinnings for this visual exercise.
This mind map was then used to generate ideas that inform the visual language of a graphic elements and an identity mark. Doing this in a sketch book allows for more immediate and flexible exploration of ideas and keeps it loose until you want to refine and explore an idea further on the computer.
The sketchpad is a conceptual playground—a tangible scene where an idea can be batted around and subjected to the immediacy of uncensored thoughts. Random concepts collide with intention. Suggestions are made. Some stick. Others are
tossed. Eventually your concept develops structure, and only then are you ready to use a computer. It’s vital to keep an open mind and not limit yourself during the sketching process. Even if your ideas seem too far-fetched, it’s best to make a visual note of all the thoughts that cross your mind.
Remember, too, that your drawing skills aren’t important. What is important is that you churn out as many ideas as possible before turning to your computer. Your mind map gives you access to the most important thoughts you can associate with the company you’ve been hired to represent. Sketch based on a single thought. Merge two together. Combine a group. There should be a huge array of possibilities. Whatever comes into your head, sketch it before it’s gone.
After some concepts have been explored on paper, the most likely step is to create some mock ups in adobe illustrator.
And example of how that mark with or without the typographic element is applied to various elements from marketing to product packaging.
Discover the design benefits of using simple mind-maps by downloading a free chapter from David Airey’s book – Logo Design Love: From Pencil to PDF (1MB download size).
Excerpted from Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities by David Airey.