The project selection process for Identity Crisis!

Quite a few individuals have asked - in person, on design forums and via email - how the case studies were selected for Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands. I thought I would explain the process a bit.

My original book proposal to HOW Design Books expressed my desire to have Identity Crisis! present identity redesigns from firms of all sizes, covering a wide range of client types, and representing as many countries as possible. The initial concept was to introduce 100 redesign solutions. From the beginning I felt that might not allow for sufficient representation of the projects to be selected. However, it was a good starting point.

Rather than present an open "call for entries" for the book, I hoped I could get a great cross-section of the design community and project types by inviting specific designers and firms to participate in the project. Over 200 email invitations were sent out to potential case study submitters around the world.

My list was compiled from a variety of sources. A few of the invitations went out to those who had participated in my first book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success. Others invited were designers with whom I had connected through online design forums and at industry conferences. I was familiar with the identity work of other firms through reading magazine articles or design blogs. I was introduced to the work of a number of firms through Jocelyn Luciano, the Executive Director of the Summit Creative Awards - for which I have been a judge three times. Alina Hagen's Graphic Makeovers column at Creative Latitude made me aware of the work of some individuals.

After the invitations went out, some recipients responded immediately with regrets of being unable to participate due to prior commitments or current workloads. About half contacted me with intentions to submit case studies for consideration. There were a few I never heard from at all.

As the submissions began to arrive, I found that my original goals and desires for the book were being met. Work was submitted by large international firms and one-person home based studios. Clients represented included retail operations, educational facilities, service industries, products, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, government agencies and more. Projects to be considered included simple identity redesigns, website makeovers only, and full-blown rebranding efforts. My only disappointment was that, in the end, there were only submissions from six countries.

In the middle of the book process the decision was made to limited the case study number to 50 and give some of the projects greater exposure. The change actually allowed for some redesigns to be explained in much greater detail - while not eliminating a few smaller projects with which many designers, and other book readers, might be able to relate.

Projects were weeded out by myself, my editor Amy Schell and book designer Grace Ring. Some projects were chosen immediately for inclusion due to the explanation of the design process, the visual impact of the finished results and the quality of the graphic materials submitted. Other design efforts just fit well into my original hopes for the book. Some, intrigued us enough to request additional materials to support a great identity redesign. Those designers and firms who followed "the rules" in making their submission were always given serious consideration.

(I do think that following the submission guidelines, and production specifications, for any design competition or book submission request would be a great topic for a future magazine or blog article. It's amazing to me the number of firms who didn't follow "the rules." Artwork was often submitted in formats and resolutions that could not be used. The briefs of some projects were so poorly written that they made no sense. Contact and credit information was incorrect. A few contributors never responded to requests for additional text or illustrative materials. In some cases, the required permission forms weren't signed. Such things made for a very annoyed and cranky author. "Babysitting" designers is not fun - especially for another designer.)

I am very pleased with the end result - especially for a book project that was completed in just over one year. I hope those who have work included will appreciated the time and effort that went into presenting their projects in the best light. When the book is released this fall, I also hope that readers will find it a valuable resource as they tackle identity redesign projects of their own.

Illustration: Original "Identity Crisis!" invitation/specifications form.

1 comment:

Calvin Lee said...

Jeff - Thanks for sharing the process. I always wondered about it. I feel even more honored now, to be chosen as one of the many contributors.

- Cal