Why Starting a New Project is Kind of Like Getting a Dog

To me beginning a new project is kind of like the first time we brought home our dog, Moose (except then her name was Chanel and we were told she liked to wear sweaters…that’s still up for debate). We had a grasp on the basics but as we looked at this bundle of potential energy we couldn’t help but feel simultaneously excited and terrified. Beginnings are like that, intimidating by the sheer fact of all the possibilities that could unfold. The creative process is no different. So how do you overcome the daunting task of starting? We’ve found the secrets to success maybe aren’t so secret.

Step 1: Start.

Just like puppy-proofing a house, you can only anticipate so much; eventually you have to just start. I know, I know, that’s the hard part. So let me share our favorite tool for starting a project (especially when we don’t know where to begin)…you ready for it?
A big, blank sheet of paper.
No really, that’s it.

We start by writing down, sketching and rearranging everything we already know. We may start with a project timeline, or listing the different audiences we need to reach, or categorizing brand key words. Whatever it is, we’ve found the most important thing is getting all the disconnected thoughts in our heads out on paper. And turns out we’re not alone in this thought – 64% of designers begin their brainstorming process with the oldest tools in the book, paper and pencil.


Big Brainstorming

Step 2: Look for patterns.

With your thoughts written down you can react to what’s right in front of you. Look for buckets to help you group your thoughts. Try highlighting reoccurring patterns to start making sense out of your immediate reactions. One of my favorite ways to start looking for patterns is using these three buckets:

  1. Think: What insights about our audience, brand, message, etc. do we need to incorporate?
  2. Create: What tangible outcomes need to be created/considered? How are those informed by our insights?
  3. Do: What is the strategy to implement what we are creating?

Step 3: Leave fear behind.

Remember the creative process is vulnerable and may be a little messy (I’ll be the first to admit that potty-training Moose entailed cleaning up a few mistakes from our living room rug). It requires putting ideas out there, testing the waters and working through all the not-quite-right solutions before you reach the sweet spot. If you begin already thinking you know the answer to a project, you may miss the innovation, discovery and breakthrough that comes from starting at the beginning.


Because you know what? Just like Moose’s wet nose waking me up in the mornings, it’s definitely worth it. (And now I’m going to share a shameless dog pic from the day we got Moose. Moose-Family-Photo

Ready to start a logo project? Try this post: I think I need a logo, now what?