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Five Steps to Staying Creatively Relevant
By: Tom Roarty
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Trying to stay creative after being any place long enough is not always easy. Let’s face it; we all have a style, and when designing for a specific company or brand over the years, there is a cycle that will repeat itself over time. However, there are ways to combat that repetitiveness and at least prolong the restart of the inevitable cycle, which could help in expanding your creative longevity. These are five tips that I have found helpful to stay fresh and relevant within a brand setting.
1) Research
We are at a point where there is pretty much no stone left unturned. No matter what new or existing product you get assigned, chances are it exists in that exact form or at least in some variation. What this means for the designer is that some of your work is already done for you. This is not to say "pick the best deign and run with it for your needs," but by researching the competition, you will have a better understanding of varied target markets, strategy scope, and future directions. By understanding this data from a visual perspective, you will have the opportunity to break away from the existing expectations of an audience by amplifying what works to your benefit.

2) Exploration of layout option
One way to assure a look gets stale fast is by being slave to a template. Because you may be required to adhere to a set of branding guidelines, you are not required to just recycle what someone has done before you as a creative, which is more of a production task. If you are a designer, it is your responsibility to offer new avenues of distributing information through your creativity. Always seek a variety of layout options for your clients, and save them all — they could come in handy in the future. I like to design six layout options as a starting point and see where the information takes me.

3) The visual word
Just because words are the literal message, as opposed to the visual message designers are responsible for, does not mean that they should be neglected. A designer’s job is to hook the eye of a targeted individual. Copy is the essence of detail that a potential client needs to make their final purchasing decision. By pushing the boundaries of type, you are finding a way to draw your audience to the literal message. Always supply alternate type styles when possible in a presentation environment.

4) Shake the rainbow
Color can be tricky, especially when a company may have an existing branded palette you are restricted to. Any color combination can be creatively presented by the adjustment of balance. By presenting colors through various assets, the entire mood of a design can be set. Experiment with type color, borders, text blocks, and accents. Expand on what exists, and offer solutions with exaggerated options. The use of color experimentation alone can make a good project great.
5) Reaction
After all the pieces are in place comes the most important factor in designing for creative functionality: Listening to your audience. What they say may not always be what you want to hear, but in the end, good commercial design is measured by the public’s reaction to it, not your personal preference. Listen to what your audience says about your work and adjust what needs to be accordingly. You are, after all, designing for a purpose, so be open to what your audience needs from you and give them what they want. In the end, your relevance to a project will still shine through. 

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