We, designers, all know the basics, but how do you become different whilst still holding on to the core basics? Practice makes perfect, well sort of, the more you brainstorm and try things you never thought would work, the more creative and different your designs will become. We must always, with ANY design, ask ourselves these 5 questions:
1. Am I attracting the right target audience?
Colors and fonts play a big role in target audience. It is really important to chose the right combination of elements and colors when attracting a certain age group. Here's an example, for young girls, bright and bold colors with funky fonts may work, but that won't work for an older group, where pastels and cleaner sans-serif fonts may be more effective.
2. Am I consistent with the clients requirements?
Always keep in mind while designing, the clients needs and specifications (budget, audience, their comments). It is easy to forget and get lost in the artistic process of designing. So, have the important specs written in front of you when you are working on that design.
3. Is it too busy? Is the message lost?
Again, we can get carried away with design, using too many elements or effects, which may look really "cool" but the question is, "is the message clear?" The message is the most important element, if the client, for example, has a promotion, you want that message to be the focus and not your cool effect. If you can combine both, all the better!
4. KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid (ok not a question, but important)
This was among the first messages in Graphic Design school, the teacher wrote on the board KISS, and then went onto explaining to us the importance of not overdesigning things. Keep It Simple Stupid.
5. Am I designing within clients budget?
Desinging amazing packaging is great, but if the production of this packaging is very expensive and above the clients budget, then you've failed. The idea is to do the best you can within your limitations.
So, whether you like it or not, you have to impress your client, they are the ones paying you and they know their market. So, I have learned that it is not about what I think "looks good" or "will work", it is about what the client will think looks good and will work.