David Airey, noted graphic designer and author

In researching color theory for an upcoming post, Frank X. Powers, President in Dudnyk (Philadelphia) discovered the intelligent and strategic design work of David Airey who recommends getting into the creative groove through mind-mapping.

David is a globally respected graphic designer and design author. He creates brand identities that enable his clients to stand out among their competitors, ultimately increasing his clients’ profits. Companies he’s worked with include the Yellow Pages (Canada), Giacom (England), Asian Development Bank (Philippines), and Berthier Associates (Japan). David has been kind enough to share his design process in an excerpt from his insightful book Logo Design Love. You can follow David on Twitter (@davidairey) or visit one of his three informative blogs: David Airey, ID, or Logo Design Love.

To be a good designer, you must be curious about life; the strongest ideas are born from the experiences we have and the knowledge we gain from them. The more we see and the more we know, the more ammunition we can stockpile for generating ideas.

I’m frequently asked how to integrate this stockpile into actual logo concepts, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in this chapter. We’ll look at the two vital steps in this process—mind-mapping and sketching—and then talk about what to include when preparing your presentation PDFs for the client.


Using mind maps helps you consider as many different design directions as possible, and at the stage when they’re most needed. It’s a relatively straightforward process of word association. You write a word that’s central to the design brief, and then branch out from it, writing other words that spring to mind. These additional words could come after some thought, or after researching the central topic. The idea is to form as large a “thought cloud” as possible, giving you a strong tool to refer to when it comes to the next stage—sketching. Mind-mapping is particularly useful in the design profession because it’s very effective for working through these important steps of the design process:

  • Collecting your thoughts
  • Generating ideas
  • Getting into a creative groove
  • Associating words with images

I’ve been using mind maps for as long as I’ve been studying design. It’s a tried and tested formula, and other designers often ask me to provide more detail on the intricacies of this practice. So let’s take a look at one or two of them.

I generated the mind map above for Meadows Renewable, a Las Vegas-based energy company that sells solar panel systems, solar water heaters, solar attic fans, and various other renewable and sustainable energy products. Notice the highlighting. If I map a word I think will adapt well to the sketching process, I usually mark it with a highlighter. This helps me focus on the stronger ideas.

Download the full chapter to learn more about David’s design process.



  1. I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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