I received a brief today that required some mock-up designs to be produced, however the brief made no mention whatsoever of design. There was no logo, no colour palette, no style guide, no likes or dislikes… nothing! There is nothing worse than a completely blank canvas. My trick for dealing with it is to start with colour.
Colour can be a powerful influence over a design. Colour can dictate mood, style and even choice of imagery. That is why I find it a useful starting point.
All I had to go on was what the organisation did and the area they worked in. They were a government body that helped to rejuvenate towns in the south west of England. That was fundamentally all I knew.
Now fortunately, I live in the South West of England (Dorset). I have many relatives spread out through Cromwell, Devon and Somerset and could refer to family photos for inspiration. A quick walk around my hometown also helped, as well as getting some fresh air into my lungs!
This trip around the area either virtually (using my photos) or physically (by walking around town) helped me to pick up certain characteristics. These included; the coastline, the rolling countryside and the soil (especially in parts of Somerset where it stains everything red even the bricks of the buildings). Suddenly I had something to work with which eventually led to this basic palette
So what is the morale of this story? Do not sit staring at a blank screen. Get up, look for inspiration offline and approach the problem laterally.