Behind the Scenes: The iQ 360 Creative Team Talks Design Strategy and Style

June 19, 2019
By iQ Staff
The words "THE CREATIVE SPACE" displayed in bold yellow font against a backdrop of stars in space.

Design inspiration is always within arm's reach at the creative lair in iQ 360's Honolulu office. Pencil sketches cover the desks, post-it notes cover the walls, and music plays from the speaker at all hours of the day, providing the perfect environment for our creative team to flourish. Read on to learn more about our designers and their strategic approach to visual communication.

Scott Kaneshiro sketch

Scott, creative director

Style: Clean, contemporary
Favorite type of design: Corporate identity, printed marketing collateral

Jordan Higa Self-Portrait sketch

Jordan, designer

Style: Illustrative and fluid
Favorite type of design: Illustration, photo direction

Lissa Hardbarger Self-Portrait sketch

Lissa, UI/UX Designer

Style: Bright and modular
Favorite type of design: Digital design and branding

mike tiscareno-self-portrait

Mike, designer

Style: Minimalistic, Swiss/international influenced
Favorite type of design: Branding and identity

What’s your design philosophy? How do you approach designing for businesses and organizations?

Most people think a designer’s job is to make things look pretty. That’s actually the fourth thing on our minds. First and foremost, we use design to communicate as efficiently as possible. Design should also evoke emotion and engage people. You could say our philosophy is based on these three objectives. Every design has different layers — there’s the basic message we are trying to communicate, then if you dig deeper you get to the feeling or emotion, and the action we are trying to get people to take.

At the heart of it, the goal of every project is to solve a problem. The way we do that is based on style. We deploy different people on our team depending on their creative style and the project. Finding the right fit is almost like a puzzle, because the style and solution need to match the problem and the client.

What is your design process?

We start with the objective — what the client wants to achieve. This isn’t necessarily always what the client is asking for. Sometimes the client has a specific piece in mind, but we find out where and how the end product will be used, how people will engage with it, and recommend a more appropriate solution.

We look at the end user or target audience and try to understand them as much as possible. We try to think like the user so we know how to create a piece that speaks to them.

Then we do our research. We look at what’s out there to see how we can stand out and differentiate our client from the rest. We look for inspiration — sometimes in unexpected places to bring freshness to the project.

From there, we brainstorm concepts. Nothing is off limits at first, even if the design is totally outside the client’s comfort zone. Then we go into the design phase. We might do sketches, thumbnails, rough layouts, then digitize it and ask for feedback along the way. Internally we are always talking and collaborating because we have different perspectives that make for a more well-rounded piece.


At the heart of it, the goal of every design project is to solve a problem.


How do you incorporate strategic thinking into your designs?

There’s strategy behind every design choice. From the materials, to the color palette, to the choice of fonts and placement of images, every detail has a purpose.

We once worked on a print piece for a luxury real estate development. The audience was so high end that they could have their pick of homes anywhere in the world. We asked ourselves: if money were no object, what would make a person want to live in this particular home? We created an idea of this special place for a person to make memories with their family. We were deliberate in the photography style, the choice of materials and the binding of the book so it wasn’t just a marketing brochure — it felt as personal as a family photo album with a heritage, keepsake quality.

Since the development was right on the water, the shoreline became a major theme and we played with design elements like cascading die cuts to evoke memories of the ocean. Even the brand identity and logo were inspired by the prestige of a country club or other exclusive community.

What’s your approach to digital design?

When it comes to digital design, they sky’s the limit. The combination of web design and web development come together and can be transformed into almost anything, which is amazing!

With every design, it’s all about the user, and that’s especially important for digital design. If you have a beautiful website, but it's hard to use, the beauty becomes superfluous and all you give to the user is frustration. UI/UX is about the bones of the design, the behind-the-scenes design that nobody thinks about, but makes or breaks a user experience. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of the audience and go through a site the way they would — is this link confusing? Does it make sense to click on that? Ultimately we try to create an experience that’s smooth and intuitive, but also delightful.

What’s your trick for getting in the creative mindset?

We constantly have to be playing music. We take turns playing music throughout the day so everyone gets a chance to listen to whatever they want. Anything goes. We play everything from the Beatles to Biggie Smalls to Beck to Bruno Mars.