The process behind: MEAL Golden Ticket & Passport design

Something different on the blog this week, as we thought we'd write about a project that we recently had the privilege of working with the Museum of East Anglian Life on. We thought we'd take you behind the scenes and give you an indication of how a project like this came together. So, without further ado here's the process we took, as short as we could explain it:

1. Client Meeting

Having previously worked with the Museum, we received an email from our contact there about assisting them with a new project involving an idea about a Golden Ticket. That request alone was enough to get us a bit interested of what was being planned, and so we organised a meeting to discuss this project in more detail. That's generally always how we like to go about the process of getting a brief and chatting about the goals, vision and scope of the project before anything happens.

After some coffee and some conversations about the ideas behind the project, we felt like we understood the brief and had enough to go back and get a proposal together for this work.

2. Proposal

So after the meeting, we then went back and brought together the notes we had, and costed up the work (we can explain more about how we do that in another post). At this stage, we were only thinking about design costs, as for this project we wanted to go and see our printers to discuss a reference piece that we had in mind (more on that in the next section though!) before giving a cost for print.

In our proposal, we generally include the following sections:

  • The brief: This has to be described in a sentence, otherwise we don't understand the brief well enough to work on the project.

  • Takeaway: These are basically just bullet points of different bits of important information that came from the meeting.

  • Deliverables: What we are going to be producing, and details of what each phase of work will consist of.

  • Timeline: The deadlines we will meet for each phase of work.

  • Costs involved: The final, but vital piece of the proposal (it's usually what people look at first, despite being at the bottom of the page).

Basically the reason we send a proposal to the client on each piece of work is so that we can make sure we're on the same page and have accurately understood the brief. It's also to make sure that they are happy with the timescales and costs involved - from there, we wait until the agreed upon date to start the project, and get moving with it.

3. Initial Sketches/Print Sourcing

We went straight onto researching ticket designs and passport designs online and started to develop a mood board for the type of art direction we wanted for the project to start off with. After finalising those, and having some good ideas in our head, we then moved onto sketching. Sketching is so much better than going straight onto software, as you will generally just move different assets around the page if you don't have an initial starting point. It also means that you can work out what ideas are good and bad before even getting in to the software.

Unfortunately I never scanned in the original sketches and so I can't show you them, but we'll show you some concept designs in the next section to make up for it.

During the process of this sketching phase, we also went to source printing. During the original meeting, I brought along some reference documents to show the client and see what sort of look and feel might be suitable for the project, based on the initial correspondence we had (hint: it's always good to do this and be as prepared as you can for a client meeting).

I had a "Harry Potter Studios" passport which I kept when I went there in High School. I kept the book because I loved the feel of it. Despite being free, it had a good quality about it, and felt like something worth keeping - which was the same feeling that we wanted young people to have when obtaining our book. It just so happened that our client from the Museum also loved the passports, and so we agreed that we would try and match the feel of the book as best we could. As we'd worked with this client before, it meant that we were trusted to find the highest quality for the cheapest price on the print, and we were able to take responsibility for everything involved with the project from a design perspective, which is always a good sign of trust in our ability as designers, and a trust we strive for.

So we took this book to our printers in Bury St Edmunds called Kingfisher Press. These guys are our regular printers and are absolutely fantastic not just in print quality, but in customer service as well (check them out!). I met with Jon and we spent a good amount of time looking through swatches and samples to try and match the feel as best we could. We decided upon the GF Smith leather embossed cover for the passport, and GF Smith Peregrina Real Gold paper for the Golden Ticket.

As a side note, for any designers out there. It's always good to take reference documents and printed items to printers as well, as you then have a point of reference for both of you to refer back to if necessary. Obviously for some projects, the ideal scenario in terms of creative ideas is that there may not be anything like it, in which case, that's great! But always take something for the projects where getting a certain quality is vital, whether that be a sketch or reference piece. Also, the GF Smith swatch book is always worth keeping in the office, even if it's just to dream about the things you could do with their beautiful paper.

4. Initial Concepts

Once getting our sketches down on paper, we then moved onto InDesign to create the first concepts. We started with the Golden Ticket design first as it was important that we came up with something that was new, but also looked like your typical golden ticket. Once that was created, we could then design the passport in a similar style to keep it nice and cohesive. This process involved finding the typefaces we wanted to use, and creating design assets to feature on the concepts. We make this process sound really quick on here for the sake of time, but this particular phase took about 5-6 hours, stretched over a few days to get some concept ideas that we thought could work.

Having agreed upon sending over 3 different design concepts for both the passport and the golden ticket, we typically create about 5 different concepts and cut out a couple that don't meet the brief or fail to communicate what we need to communicate in the project. Again, this can vary from a couple of minutes, to a few days to find our favourites!

As an example, here are couple of the concepts design that we came up with for this particular project:

After compiling those designs, we the put them into what we call a "design development file". This is basically just a simple InDesign template that we use to present ideas to a client, whether that be in person, on the phone or through email. It gives us a chance to showcase our designs and explain to the client about why we made the decisions that we did. Generally, we will always try to present our ideas using photorealistic mockups (like we've shown above). It looks much more professional and also helps the client to envision how it will look when it's properly printed!

For this project in particular, we sent the development file across over email, as we weren't able to present it in person because of time constraints.

4. Amendments/Print

Once the client had looked over them and asked the opinions of others involved with the project, we then had some concepts that were her favourites, and we were then able to proceed with continuing the designs of the insides of the passport, and putting the finishing touches to both designs. For this project, it involved doing a small amount of copywriting and proofreading for the passport, while also keeping in touch with the printer about the lead times to make sure everything would still be going ahead on time and on budget.

For this type of work, once we had a favoured design, there was only a small amount to do to get them ready for printing really. For all of our other print work, it's much different as normally we would present concept designs, and then move onto designing the whole book - which would be a huge amount of work because of the information and photography that may need to go inside, but as the insides of the passport were going to be used for stamping, there was only minimal design work inside.

After another meeting with the client to finalise copy and check that all information was accurate - we then went onto sending the work to print! Due to the leather embossed paper from GF Smith being hand produced to order, it meant that process would take a couple of weeks to deliver.

Another hint for anyone looking to go into print design - always factor in delays in print and the production times to your proposals. You may be able to produce the work on time and work to the deadlines, but you also need to make sure your printers can print the work on time as well. Another reason to get print sorted at the beginning!

You may have already seen the finished items on our projects page, but if not, here's how the final items turned out:

5. Delivery

Two weeks later, and they're in our hands ready to drop down to the client!! For most projects we would just have them delivered to the client straight away, as we trust Kingfisher to deliver the best quality every time, because that's what they've always done for us. As the client is located in the same town as us though, we decided to have them delivered to our offices to check for quality, and also take some photos of them for our records .... and our blog posts (once agreed with the client, of course!)

After that, we then dropped them off to the Museum ready to use. The final result was a high quality product that the students would want to hold on to, and hopefully encourage more footfall for the Museum during their Summer programme. Most importantly, we had a happy client - and many people wanting to get hold of the shiny golden tickets, which in normal cases would be quite annoying, but for us as the designers, it's actually quite flattering.

We hope you've enjoyed this post, we've tried to keep them as short as we can again, while still being (hopefully) helpful to you in some way. This was a bit of a smaller project than we normally do in terms of page numbers, so we thought it would be easier to write about that go through each individual page of another project. We're just trying things out though, we'll write about whatever people want us to, and unless we're told otherwise, we'll just keep writing about random things - the future of our blog is in your hands!

Anyway, that's all from us this week. Until next time!

The BRIX Team