Techniques for Creative Thinking

This tutorial contains specific approaches to focus design thinking on creative, unusual, and unique solutions.

Step one: Write down the message to be communicated in the design. Put it in a brief, one-line statement.

Step two: Using each of the following techniques, explore different ways to communicate the message.


1) Write a listing of “visuals” associated with the product, service, or message.


2) Write a listing of “words” which describe the feeling of the product or service.


3) Change the focal point.


4) Try Symmetry vs. Asymmetry


5) Try taking one good idea and doing several
variations on it.


or here is another example...


6) Try visual analogies.


What visual comparisons can you find with the type shapes or images you are working with?




7) Try using a “what if”

What would happen if everything goes?




8) Try using “type” as the main graphic element.

A) Look for visual posibilities which might exist in the words of your message.

The initials "USA" exist within the word "RUSSIA".



This poster for British Airways reveals a message in the type.


B) Use type in a visually expressive way.

Altered letterforms can illustrate a message.




9) Reverse a visual or color of an image.

Try looking at opposites to make a statement with impact.

The concept of "happy heroin hints" makes the viewer stop to find the real meaning.



Reversing images creates surrealism which can be attention-getting.




10) Use an unusual visual or a visual unrelated to the product/service.

Look at your list of visuals. What changes or substitutions might make a strong statement.

This unusual piece of dinnerware makes the point that the client is a steak restaurant.




11) Bring 2 different things, images, or objects together to make a new one

Look at different things to bring together to make a new composite element.




12) Change the scale of things.

Create an unusual image by presenting an element far out of it's normal size or scale.

Changing the scale of the product not only establishes a strong focal point, but adds humer to the message.
Note that technique #13 is also used here.



13) Emphasize the size of something or compare the size to make a point.

Enlarge the details you want to emphasize.




14) Used a strange point of view. An unusual or unexpected angle.

What does the message look like from a biker's point of view?




15) Compare two different things.

Take the message, product, or service and search for an unusual comparison.

This poster against racial bias compares skin color to crayon colors to make an unusual statement.




16) Borrow from language

This ad tells you what people will say about someone who shops at Nordstrom.


Use a quote or phrase what everyone is familiar with.




17) Look to nature (use shapes, feelings, textures, etc.)



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