How to keep long-term design projects exciting

We ask designers about the longest projects they’ve undertaken, and how they managed to make them interesting along the way.

Pali Palavathanan, founder and creative director, TEMPLO

Pali Palavathanan, founder and creative director, TEMPLO

“I worked on a rebrand for a well-known airline, which took the best part of two years from start to finish. There were many creative routes, more than 400 tail fin designs, a bespoke typeface and at least two months’ of final logo artwork tweaks. The project had lots of twists and turns – a year into the work, the main design route was dropped in favour of a more conservative approach. Our direct client left the company and someone new came in. We then had to condense two years of designs into a six-page PDF for the company founder to sign off. The best motivation is to remember the end goal when things get tough – seeing the designs in full flight.”


Karen Hughes, creative director, This Is True North
Karen Hughes, creative director, True North

“18 months (and counting) is the longest period of time I’ve worked on a project. The key to keeping lengthy projects interesting begins with future-proofing the original concept: rigorously testing the idea, ensuring it’s strong enough to pass the test of time and has enough mileage to flex across an endless number of channels and scenarios, and remaining fresh and engaging throughout. From there, the way to keep up momentum and enthusiasm for a job is to continually push and challenge your original thinking. Don’t be afraid to take things in an unexpected direction, always be open to new ideas and seek out interesting collaborations.”


Felicia Rosenzweig, partner, Prophet
Felicia Rosenzweig, partner, Prophet

“We recently designed a global visual identity system that took over a year in the making to get corporate stakeholders and all the markets engaged and ready to go. While working out the details, we focused on two key things to keep it interesting and motivating for our team: 1) Introducing a continuous stream of boundary-pushing real-world inspiration, and 2) empowering the team to propose enhancements all along, not just act on feedback. Starting a project with energy is fairly easy – keeping the positive energy going through endless iterations is harder but essential for both the impact of the end product and the learning experience.”


David Godber, group chief executive officer, Elmwood
David Godber, group chief executive, Elmwood

“Maybe this is a slightly philosophical answer but my longest running project is actually me! My life so far has been an education: many roles in different sectors and within numerous countries and cultures, the thousands of people I have met (many of whom I call my friends) – and I’m still learning about the wonderful world that we live in. As for keeping it interesting, well for me it’s about the people I meet from all walks of life, their stories and challenges. These are what keep me inspired every day. And I think I’ll be on this particular project for about another 40 years – at least I hope so!”

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