4 Best Examples of Case Study Designs

Case Study Designs

In order to create a great design for any logo, print material, billboard or graphics used on a website, a case study must be undertaken to explore the best way to represent the client’s vision and message. These best examples of case study designs will give you an insight into how this is done with stellar results.

case study designs: woman drawing

4 Best Examples of Case Study Designs

Whenever you see printed matter or any other kind of product, even medications, they have all been designed by an artist, graphic designer or even an engineer. While those titles may conjure images of artsy types magically having images of finished products pop into their heads, you can be assured that rarely happens. Most products require hours, days, weeks, months or even years, depending on the complexity of the item. Even the most experienced designer will go through a process, sometimes quite drawn out, before polishing the design.

This process is called a case study. The best examples of case study designs involve several steps, including initial concept, brainstorming to determine direction, making a mood board, exploration of variations, exploration of copyrights or other protections, refinement of details, possible major revisions, constant mockups for approval, variations on the final, and on and on. It may fall to a single designer to do the job or an entire team of designers.

In fact, Saul Bass, whose name you may recognize from the opening and closing credits for the Pink Panther movie series and several for the James Bond movie genre, had a team of designers in his studio in Los Angeles that was working on a design for Bayer aspirin – just the pill itself that was soon going into production. There were no fewer than 500 design variations initially in consideration. Everything was being examined from size to shape to color to markings, etc., and every possible combination of those details. The case study was a six-month process to arrive at a simple white tablet with slightly curved top and bottom surfaces, the word Bayer on one side and scored lines crossing at a 90-degree angle on the other.

Case study designs for a logo, for instance, would begin with understanding the name and mission of the company, whether the client wants something ultra modern or more traditional, what message it wants to convey to its consumer base and how the end design will vary for different applications, including signage, website, printed matter, clothing appliqués, black and white versus color, etc. This will involve the designer going through many of those steps, eliminating the least-likely prospects and showing the rest to the client for approval. Revisions will then follow and the last couple of steps can be repeated multiple times before both the artist and the client are satisfied with the results.

For characters in the movie The Hobbit, the case study designs involved identifying the characters and their race or familial background, living conditions, language, movements, eating habits, hygiene, clothing for different times of day and different seasons or occasions, beliefs, traditions, and on and on. Each of those components needed to be decided on, and then another study as to how each was implemented or portrayed on the screen. Countless drawings and models were made, approval sought and then the work of bringing it all to life in a believable fashion ensued. Does that sound exhausting? You can bet that it was. This process takes place for every movie of that type. Similar efforts go into developing characters in animated films as well, although wardrobes do not need to be created and fitted.

Illustrations for books, book jackets, corporate reports, decals for vans and buses, billboards, electronics, infographics, brochures, business cards, cereal boxes and virtually every other product you see must go through a similar process to determine that the look and the functionality complement each other and make a cohesive design.

Why We Chose These Case Study Designs

We love the following best examples of case study designs because you can see that the progression from just a concept, to alternative options, to approved final product is clean and has had a great deal of thought and effort invested in the process. Some of them may not have taken as long but all are genius.

1. Mirabella Hills Modern Design Hills

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Let’s start case study designs with a 5-star Manifesto Design for Mirabella Hills, a high-end housing development aimed at northern-European buyers. This client went to a design firm for the whole package. The process included naming the property, creating an original and meaningful logo, and building that into a corporate image. From there marketing materials needed to be designed, promotional campaigns designed for agents, and digital marketing for online and television advertising.

Since the client was uncertain about a name for the project, a large list of name suggestions was compiled. The client was able to cut that down to a shortlist based on its vision for the company. Finally they were able to come up with a name that the target buyers could relate to as well as the town where they would be built. With the help and guidance of the designer, the client settled on the name of Mirabella Hills – modern design homes.

A study was made of the logo image that would best represent the corporation and the name. A slim, uppercase sans serif font in navy blue was chosen. The “I” in Hills was dotted with an earth-toned swoosh that indicated the shape of the hills. From there the discussion turned to how this new logo would be used across all applications, including letterhead and business cards. Several different placements and positions were experimented with until a consensus was reached and the design was settled on.

The next step was to the design a collateral package including brochures, fliers, newspaper advertising, billboards and other marketing materials. There needed to be a recognizable feel across all of the pieces, so the same colors and fonts were used. Besides mailables and other marketing materials, a campaign needed to be pitched to realtors and sales agents whose roles would be key in helping to sell the properties. This sales packet included a well-rounded package to educate agents. The packet included a nicely put-together folder with a flap to hold materials and a CD overview of the project. As with the business cards and other printed material, these realtor packets were designed with the same elements so they tied closely into other collateral pieces. In addition, these sales packets were created in English, Spanish and Russian.

Digital design was not neglected either – the website featured responsive web design that would appear and function as desired in desktop, tablet or mobile applications alike. Again, the website was designed to include the same colors and fonts to complete the package.

2. Airbnb Vacation Rentals

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Let’s explore another one of the case study designs that created the Airbnb logo. It all started with a genius concept. The homeowners do all of the work of decorating, stocking, cleaning, maintaining and even photographing and listing the properties. Then, for a percentage of the nightly rental fee, Airbnb handles the reservations and reviews for the property. Judging from the overwhelmingly successful returns for this company, we all wish we had thought of it!

There were no less than nine design teams working on this account before success was reached, driving home the point that this is not a job for sissies. Design may look like all fun and games to onlookers, but artists and designers take it seriously. A company’s entire reputation and success can depend on its visual imagery and the public’s perception. There can be a lot riding on coming up with the right design.

Beyond concept, a logo and marketing presence was needed. It offered the design team a few criteria to work with including people, places, love and an “A” for Airbnb. They also had the tag line, “We imagine a world where you can belong anywhere.” After an exploration of the many ways these items could be combined and represented, they came up with a loopy heart to represent love and turned it upside down to represent an “A.”

The next step was to determine the best way to portray this image. A casual watercolor swash, marker and even mosaic were tried. It was decided, that to have a strong online presence they would use a similar style to the location icon found on maps. That was tried in a few different ways and the existing “Belo” was developed. The accompanying “airbnb” in lower-case letters was explored for placement. Most often it will be used with the belo centered directly above it.

Additional materials were created using the simple red on white, and alternatively, white on red logo. It is simple, is recognizable and memorable. A 4.5-star win in our book.

3. Evernote

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In another familiar name, we will examine Evernote’s logo development. Evernote is a cloud storage service for notes, lists, files, etc. The criteria was straightforward. It needed to be simple yet communicative, easily recognizable, work well on a Mac icon dock, as an app button and also as a favicon on the website. The process began with an exploration of various styles of the letter “E,” representations of a notepad and even an infinity sign to indicate that the files you store could be stored forever.

After an extensive look at ideas, the team finally settled on the image of an elephant (an elephant never forgets). The study included outlines, solid and pieced; feet; head only; and straight-on, to name a few. It was narrowed down to a few different yet similar side-view elephant heads with a variety of solid colored fills. Some had stars for eyes, some were more realistic and some were graphic representations.

Finally “the one” was found. Side view, solid fill, enough detail to easily be recognized as an elephant head, but still simple and uncomplicated. It has one special feature; the upper tip of the ear is folded over just like the icon for a document. A grey fill was finally settled on and lime green, upper-case lettering spelled out “EVERNOTE” centered below the image. It was then placed side by side with other app icons, and was found to hold up favorably alongside YouTube, Linkedin and other well-established logos.

It was then left to decide on standard usage practices for the logo across different mediums and marketing venues. The primary choice of color use was the grey and lime green as mentioned above. As a secondary palette, pale blue and deep red, and also a Kelly green and pale sea green. This logo was finished in a record six weeks, including revisions and all. We give it four stars.

4. Sonaris Ear Clinic

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One last case study to visit – Sonaris Ear Clinic, a medical facility dedicated to helping those who are missing out on the audible side of life. Since Sonaris was a new practice without any former brand identity or marketing, the design team was starting from scratch. The criterium was that it needed to appeal to all ages and all walks of life. The company motto “sounds of life” was to be the main inspiration for the design work. After some brainstorming, the motto was revised to “Because Life Sounds Good.”

Using the model of the part of the inner ear that hears sounds, or the cochlea, was suggested and the exploration began. How to portray the cochlea – realistically, graphically, cartoonish, etc. –  and what colors to use were considered. Also an array of fonts were looked at for easy readability and visual appeal. The icon and fonts also needed to work equally well for uniforms, printed materials and signage as well as website applications.

They ended up using a series of wedge shapes and varying the size from small to large, spiraling them around to form the cochlea in shades of gold and aqua to keep a fresh feel. The word SONARIS was centered directly below and split in color, with ”SON” in medium grey and “ARIS” in a dark charcoal.

Collateral materials were created to finish the package. In addition to the logo being present on each piece, grey, aqua and gold bands were at the bottom of each piece, and the envelopes and appointment cards were created in aqua to match. The website employs the same colors and features the logo. This case study earns 4 stars – it would be higher but there wasn’t as much information on the process.

Where You Can See Other Case Study Designs

All of these examples of case study designs have something in common in that they communicate not only the visions and messages of the companies they represent, but also hours and hours of hard mental and physical work by teams of designers that are dedicated to producing results that not only clients but the designers themselves can be proud of. You can find additional examples online as well as a variety of tutorials on how to undergo your own case study.