Concept and design, two different things

To conceptualize or to design? That is the question. People use those words interchangeably when referring to design options. They actually don't mean the same thing. Conceptualization requires a different set of skills than designing. In order to conceptualize the designer needs to think "big picture". If I have this great concept that is supportive of this great message, I will think about how it will be applied on to print collateral, direct mail, the Web, an app, a twitter opportunity, the Facebook page, and even the face-to-face experience. When the designer conceptualizes s/he is thinking about it in a holistic way to create a connection between the organization, company, product or service, with the recipient or target market/audience.

Concept comes before design. I can't design a marketing piece if I don't have a concept in mind. And I can't conceptualize if I don't know how the design will be deployed or delivered physically or electronically.

A concept could be literal or it can be intriguing. The project manager and the designer will have to collaborate on what's the best option based on the target audience, the budget and the overall marketing goals.

A concept is needed to communicate the message and can be interpreted and converted to many different designs layouts.

A concept is broad whereas a design is specific. A concept is strategic whereas a design is tactical. A concept might be complex but the design execution must be simple.

Sketches from a recent conceptualization process.