Confessions of an Undercover Naturopathic Designer: The 7D Approach to Media Design Success … with Garlic!

Garlic on white background

Design, like any creative endeavor, is a process. Sometimes brilliance occurs by chance, sometimes by deliberate experimentation, but exceptional design is usually the result of a series of steps, guided by intention and deep preliminary analysis. We’re going to talk about those seven steps and, since I’m a designer and undercover naturopath, we’re also going to learn a little about … garlic!

Of all the most nutritional foods to consume, garlic is at the top of my personal list for great health. It also offers an interesting parallel for discussing the process of design. Let’s talk about it.

Hands with idea starburstD1 = DIALOGUE

Talking about it is how the door to a new project gets opened. A client calls you, Skypes you, emails you, texts you, Tweets you. It begins with a DIALOGUE.

Ask a lot of questions. Gather intel. Take good notes. The opening dialogue can yield essential information, but, like cooking with garlic, you have to skillfully extract it.

In this first conversation, you discover your client has a …



Desire. Every creative project begins with a DESIRE. Your client has a message they desire to send, a product they desire to sell, a service they desire to offer.

They come to you with that desire in their hands and they want you to make it real. They need you to polish it up and make it sparkle. They challenge you to make it compelling. To do that, you have to find its …



Outside skin of garlic bulbDefinition. The outside of a garlic bulb is covered with a thin, papery skin. Accordingly, the starting concept you’re given to work with may be a little thin, a little papery and translucent, not fully thought out. Just the shell of an idea housing an essence that could prove to be quite powerful.

Your job as a designer is to peel away that next layer and see what lies beneath. Find out what your client really wants to say or do or sell. Define the target audience. Define the desired outcome. Ensure that you and your client are in agreement on the definition of the project because …

Definition is the most important part. Definition will inform and direct the entire project. Be thorough with this.

If you don’t, you may by chance come up with something so brilliant that your client will be overwhelmed by your creative genius and just jump on board …

But more likely, you’ll totally miss the mark and your client will be disappointed.



Garlic cloves inner coveringSo now you’ve peeled away the thin outer layer of the garlic bulb and extracted a few cloves. Each clove represents an idea. Each clove has a tougher skin surrounding it.

Just as each garlic clove has its own size and contours, your client has some ideas, some preconceived notions, some established conventions, some thoughts and opinions and tastes. It can be a little tough to get your client beyond this layer of tried and true and what has always been done.

Your job as a designer is peel away any barriers that exist and take your client to a good place. A fresh perspective. The next level.

Get to the heart of the message to be conveyed. Grab a pencil and start sketching concepts. This the development phase. Experiment. Mind-map. Keep peeling away that tough inner skin until you discover the heart and can begin your …




COAUN-GarlicHeartHere is where you bring the project to life. When that inner skin is peeled away from the clove itself, there’s a sudden burst of aroma!

In the heart of the clove are the flavor and life-giving nutrients. To release garlic’s immune boosting elements, crush the clove.


Likewise, crush your design.



Your client should smell the dish cooking before you deliver it the table. With samples, drafts, and checkpoints, you’ll know in advance that the dish is going to suit your client’s palate.

Your client should be waiting for you … salivating … with fork in hand.


If you’ve been thorough in the first four steps, the design should come easily and delivery will be a celebration. Happy campers all around! And that leads to:



Did you know that garlic has strong medicinal properties? It contains fiber, Vitamins B6 and C, Manganese, and Selenium as well as Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Copper, and many other essential nutrients. A dividend ingredient in garlic is Allicin, which can play a crucial role in boosting your immune system. Cutting, crushing, or chewing the cloves releases garlic’s health-boosting power on your entire body.

Garlic supplementation can:

  • Help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Improve the body’s iron metabolism.
  • Treat hair loss.
  • Act as a natural remedy for acne, cold sores, and psoriasis.
  • Treat and prevent colds with its powerful antioxidants.
  • Help control weight gain when included in your daily diet.
  • Treat athlete’s foot with its antifungal properties.


Here are some interesting and less conventional uses of garlic:

  • Use garlic salt to de-ice your walkways.
  • Rub a garlic clove over a hairline crack in glass as a temporary seal.
  • Create a natural elixir of garlic, water, liquid soap, and mineral oil to use as a garden pesticide.
  • Use garlic cloves as an enticing bait on your next fishing trip!


A well-executed design project yields dividends too:

  • Satisfaction. Your client’s and your own.
  • Repeat business. Your client will likely ask you to serve up another dish …
  • … and tell friends that you can really cook! Word of mouth Referrals.


Those dividends will open a new DIALOGUE

New prospect, new project, new D7 process ….


So here’s the SUMMARY:

D1 = DIALOGUE. Start a conversation.

D2 = DESIRE. Hear the need.

D3 = DEFINITION. Hone the purpose.

D4 = DEVELOPMENT. Build the concept.

D5 = DESIGN. Execute the project. (Crush it!)

D6 = DELIVERY. Make the presentation. (Crush that too!)

D7 = DIVIDENDS.  Next new project. Got your saucepan ready?

Cross-sections of garlic cloves



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