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Mar 26

What are Stylescapes?

Do you have a design process that guarantees a certain level of success?

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For us, our strategy relies on the use of Stylescapes.

Stylescapes are a carefully collected combination of images, textures, typography, and colors to communicate a certain look and feel of a brand, website, interior space, or any other design project. Think of them as moodboards taken to the next level.

Stylescapes bridge the gap between your ideas and your client’s. They help to get both of you to agree on the design direction before you design anything.

We use Stylescapes for virtually every design project we touch. They’re a vital piece to our creative process and how we keep our clients in the loop of where each project is headed.

If you’re not already incorporating Stylescapes into your design process, stick around. You’re about to find out why you and your clients keep butting heads, and how you can significantly simplify your design projects going forward.

The Problem with Your Process

How many times have your clients said something like, “this isn’t what I pictured?”

When you’re in a discovery session with a client, there’s a lot that can get lost in translation. They say one thing, but you interpret it as something else entirely. Then when you break from the meeting, you jump into designing and prepare to knock their socks off with what you’ve made.

When you present your deliverable, though, they’re not on board. They ask you to try again. They may even do a little research of their own and tell you what to do based on what they found. You keep editing, revising, making last-minute adjustments, and presenting new concepts to them, but you’re not making any progress. You’ve lost focus on what this project is supposed to be.

At that point, you’ve worked beyond the agreed scope, your client’s feeling frustrated, and you’re on the verge of calling it quits. Is any of this sounding familiar?

See, without Stylescapes, there’s no direction to agree on. There’s no transparency or exchange of ideas for the design. And if there’s anything we’ve learned working with clients, it’s that they want to know where the design direction is headed. This is where Stylescapes play a critical role.

Example brand identity stylescape for Indy Mogul.

You Need to Learn Your Client’s Language

When your client says “this isn’t what I pictured” you need to figure out what that is before you head to the drawing board. You don’t need a crystal ball or some magic spell to step inside their brains. You need to do something about your discovery process.

Through asking questions, you slowly start to figure out what your clients mean with each answer, but you can’t get the full picture with their words alone.

The reality is you and your client don’t speak the same language. You’re coming from a variety of perspectives as a designer, strategist, and problem-solver. You might think you know more than your client in terms of the best direction for the project, but you don’t.

Yes, they’re coming to you to lean on your expertise and design talent, but the fate of their business is in your hands. Don’t forget that clients put their trust in you to deliver something that can squash whatever challenge they’re facing.

When they make comments like, “I like the minimalist style,” or “I love so-and-so’s brand,” it’s important that you understand exactly what that means.

Stylescapes Tell You What Your Clients Want

You can essentially decode your client’s words with Stylescapes. Instead of coming back from the discovery session with a deliverable, you come back with one or a few Stylescapes to essentially ask them, “Is that what you were thinking?”

Stylescapes are meant to generate some sort of emotional response from the client when they see what’s in front of them. They’re also there to serve as a point of reference to establish the overall look and feel of the brand identity, digital product, music video, or whatever it is you’re designing.

Stylescapes open the door to a collusion of ideas, giving you and your client the chance to collaborate and communicate clearly and effectively. Your client can point to a specific element or an entire Stylescape and tell you, with zero hesitation, whether they like it or not.

Rather than continue to guess what their words and ideas look like, you can find certain images, colors, or typefaces that visually represent what they’re thinking.

You can bridge the gap between what they say versus what they mean, get them to see what you see, and jump into the design process with more confidence.

Get Approval Before You Start Working

On top of that crystal-clear confirmation that you and your client are on the same page, you also get the added bonus of a verbal sign-off. When your client points to a Stylescape and confidently says, “that’s the direction I want to go in,” that’s your green light.

All too often designers try to read their client’s minds. They don’t always get a full ‘yes’ to move forward, which then sets the course for an endless cycle of revisions, headaches, and lost time.

Let’s clear something up: we’re not saying clients dictate the design process. It’s quite the contrary. Like we mentioned before, clients want to be involved. They want to make sure their needs and concerns are heard, and the best way to do that is to give them the opportunity to voice their opinions. When your process is more transparent, clients trust your open-door approach more easily.

Once you show clients a few samples of what the final design could look like, it only gets them more excited to see the finished product. By using Stylescapes, you get design approval faster, more clearly, and with more confidence—before you design anything.

Bright, colorful example brand identity stylescape.

See the Difference Stylescapes Can Make

Imagine knowing exactly what your clients wanted, or having little to no friction when you shared your ideas. Or dodging extra work, staying on task and within the scope. Imagine getting to do what you love without anyone stepping on your toes.

Stylescapes make all of this possible. They fill that gap between the creative brief and the design work where information gets lost.

Instead of disconnecting from your client and losing sight of the project, you work together to find the ideal solution. Without that visual reference, you slowly but surely start relying on your client or boss to tell you what to do.

We want to keep you from running back and forth from the drawing board. Speaking from our experience, becoming your client’s puppet is pretty soul-crushing. And as a designer, you never want to feel like you can’t do your job well.

Your Design Projects Can Be More Profitable

Realistically speaking, clients won’t always look at a Stylescape and say, “that’s the one.” Creating Stylescapes is only one little slice of the whole pie.

Because not only do you have to turn your client’s thoughts into visual references, you also have to present them in a way that gets you that buy-in. You have to be able to sell them on a vision—to paint a narrative that prompts them to pick a certain direction they can feel good about.

And our Stylescapes course teaches you all of this and more. It’s designed to train you to stop guessing what clients want, present ideas with confidence, and establish a repeatable process that guarantees success.

You won’t just learn to create Stylescapes that look great, but you’ll also learn how to make them work. With the downloadable resources and presentation templates, you’ll learn how to vividly describe your visual concepts in a way that gets your clients on board in no time. Instead of waiting weeks to get aligned, you can do it almost instantly.

The Stylescapes course includes:

  • Over 6 hours of video content
  • Design and presentation templates
  • Access to a private Slack channel
  • Email scripts and templates
  • Real client presentation videos
  • Practice assignments

And that’s not even all of it. You’ll have Chris as your temporary Creative Director, showing you the ropes to master the Stylescape process, from creation to nailing your presentations.

You can simplify your design projects, strengthen your relationship with your clients, and have a proven method that works successfully every time. Interested in learning more? Click here.

Example brand identity stylescape for The Futur Academy.

Change the Way You Work with Stylescapes

If you’re ready to start taking back control of your design projects, Stylescapes are the perfect tool to have in your arsenal. Incorporating Stylescapes into your creative process is the first step to landing more rewarding work.

Endless revisions, last-minute tweaks, losing your creative freedom, or dragging projects beyond the scope can become a thing of the past. You and your clients can forget about clashing over the design direction.

When you include the use of Stylescapes into your projects, you’ll have a proven process that helps you nail your client’s expectations on the mark, get design approval fast, and demonstrate your capabilities as a design professional.

With Stylescapes, you’ll change the way you work, forever. Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about enrolling in our Stylescapes course.

Nathalia Iole

Nathalia is the freelance copywriter at The Futur. She works across various touchpoints to bring you closer to our content.