What do you mean style? Am I referring to that one design I made in college that I try to force other projects to fit into it? Or that Helvetica is my favorite font (it definitely isn’t), so I use it in all of my designs? NO — I mean “style” as in you as a creative thinker and how you creativelysolve problems for your clients. What is your personal, unique style? If you don't know, here's how to find it.
What do you like/dislike? What draws you in and makes you want to see more? Are you drawn to minimalist design? If so, what do you like about it?
Work on figuring out what draws you in and why, and then work toward creating an effective design that is reflective of that style, but with your own twist. If that means you have to initially re-create other designs to create an effective process for yourself, do that.
If you like minimalist styles, study those and follow some you admire. Find inspiration on the web. I personally enjoy Behance because it is a large group of works including different styles, voices and imagery. On the same note, NEVER take credit for another designer’s work. You will find a giant lawsuit on your hands (and it makes you look like a jerk). Have a sketchbook and portfolio, in print and online. Design for yourself, not just for clients. Have fun, but also challenge yourself.
Who is your audience? How can you reach them? What resources can you offer them? The next piece of the puzzle is figuring out who it is that you will be targeting. For example, if you are trying to reach teens in your area, you need a fun, edgy style. Study trends on social media, look at companies that targets teens, ask some teenagers what they find interesting. You don’t need to slap a rainbow on it to get their attention, but think about effective marketing strategies that target your specific audience the best.
Why are you designing this particular piece? Why did you use that color? What is the purpose behind all of your design choices?
Every decision you make in your design should mean something and be thought out. Don’t use purple on everything just because it’s your favorite color; instead, think of what color would successfully send your message to the end-user, yet still maintaining consistent company branding. These are important steps for you as a designer and also when trying to relay your design choices to your client. Be confident in explaining your choices, but keep the door of communication open for them to suggest changes as well.
Take your time. Be transparent and be aware of deadlines.
If you are rushed to finish a job and you don’t spend the time creatively solving the problem, your work will show it. Always start a project by brainstorming multiple ideas and thinking outside the box in order to create something unique. Research other graphics in the same category and get a feel for what is successful in that industry.
Learn how to be yourself in design and in life. There is no foul in taking inspiration from others, but how can you make it YOU? Always research trends, changes in your industry, lingo and new software. If you don’t, your designs will start to show age.
They say some designs are “timeless,” but everything changes over time and becomes outdated, even if it was a major part of the history. Milton Glaser, who created the iconic I ♥ NY branding and the Mad Men poster, and Scott Thomas, the designer behind the Obama hope campaign branding, are two of the most monumental designers of our time, IMHO. These works are classics and are extremely successful, but these designers will never allow their work to become stale and conventional. Read more about history’s most respected designers, here.