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5 Things Concept

Hi! I’m Nicholas Nesbitt, a Johannesburg based creative specialising in Illustration, Digital Design & Sound Design. These are some of my latest illustrated ramblings. Enjoy :)

Indiana Jones

1. Hunt for insights

There is no definitive way to develop a concept, but the more you immerse yourself in your subject, the deeper your insights will be. Insights are the little seeds that grow into concepts.

Insight hunting is like going on a quest or vacation. Think of yourself as Indiana Jones searching for the Temple of Doom. What are some of the things he encountered along his hero’s journey that ultimately led him to the prize?

I often find that if I go off the beaten path I find little gems of insights. If you just do the touristy things, you’re going to find tourist traps. Good insights are those hidden gems hard to find, satisfying when you uncover them and they will led you to where you need to go with your concept.

Do your research, get lost in the process, let the journey take you and those insights will bubble to the surface your concept will find you.

2. A concept is like a ship

Now you have some great insights, it’s time to develop your concept.

A concept is like a ship and you are the captain. A good ship is sturdy, it has direction and it can transport many ideas to faraway lands. The ideas are like the ship's crew. Each crew member has a unique story to tell and it is the job of the ship and the captain to deliver those stories to the world.

A good concept will let you travel far far far away, a bad concept will sink with its captain.

3. Variations of the theme

A good concept is a versatile and magical thing. Once you have the concept locked down there can be many variations because the bones are in place.

Let's think about Mogwai’s. Adding water to a Mogwai duplicates him into more Mogwai’s and that's just what a good concept needs to be able to do… multiply ideas. Some ideas, under a concept, are better than others but you can always pick the ones that work best and discard the duds.

Remember, your concept is 3 dimensional and should be able to be executed in various different ways and suit a variety of platforms.

4. Universally understood

A good concept must be universally understood. It must be clear, simple, unique, and spark conversation.

This does not mean it needs to be grand but it must touch on basic humanity. It must make you feel something, stick in your mind, make you laugh, or just make the world a slightly better place.

5. Build on the concept

Great concepts have firm foundations. They can grow and change with the times. A strong brand knows this and a great campaign centered around a good concept can bring real value to your clients.

Like a cult classic movie, a good concept stands the test of time, is remembered and imitated.

I asked some creatives to define what a concept is. Here are my favorite takes on the subject…

Analogy Diagram By Hilton Tennant

A Concept places focus on an Idea from multiple angles. A great concept can have seemingly unrelated stories but always have a way that links back to a single Idea.

A good Idea can lead you in many directions, so in isolation, could lead to unfocused deductions/ communication. That said, a single idea is always the necessary origin or gateway to a great concept.

Hilton Tennant

Either got it or you don't.

Nas Hoosen

A cloud of pretension that convinces everyone that the mundane is actually sublime.

Alex Bernatzky

Thanks for reading, if you like this follow me on Instagram.




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Nicholas Nesbitt

Nicholas Nesbitt

Nicholas Nesbitt is a Johannesburg based creative specialising in Illustration, Digital Design and Sound Design

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