Although computers, software and a need for speed have given the world waves of desktop publishers, it is another matter entirely to find talented and understanding designers, who can decipher the often vague concepts and ideas of the business world and develop an identity and character for them to become an economic resource.
In servicing our clients we have always maintained out first principle – listen to what the client wants.
This is key to any dialogue, but critical if we are to understand our role in the unique business process presented to us. You might think that listening is obvious, but there are so many examples of wasted budgets, due to ‘creatives’ going off on self-seeking tangents.
The second principle is understanding. Truly understanding the problem to be solved, our role in the solution, the outcome required and whether or not we have garnered enough information from the client to make confident suggestions towards a successful resolution. All of this creates the Brief, the statement which defines the job, its parameters and its guidelines for success.
Some designers are notorious for avoiding the creation of this statement, making the question fit their answer and not the other way round, effectively designing for themselves. The Brief keeps us on track.
Given that we have passed this hurdle, the cost of the work to be done will be the make or break of the job, from the outset.
A job well costed is fair to both parties. It should reflect the complexity of the job and the value of the work for the client.
Our experience has taught us to deliver what we say we can, within budget, on time. There’s no magic in that, just attention to detail from the outset. We should argue about nuances with the client, not whether it was all worth it.
Beyond these three critical elements, there are a host of variables which we, as design managers, on behalf of our clients, always include in our responsibilities, such as repurposing, the development of design elements with the future potential to be reused in different ways, often across other media, prudent storage of files and ideas, the monitoring and correct use of artwork to media houses, including all branded guidelines and of course, client contact and following through.
The business relationship began with this and whether we produce work for a client on a consistent basis, or once in a blue moon, some contact helps keep the wheels of commerce turning, sometimes with ideas which lead to new work and other times, just to express our sense of consideration.
Someone recently asked me how I saw my role as a designer. My answer was, creative and brand manager on behalf of our clients, advisor and someone who asks difficult questions and sees the answers as opportunities.
Design is deeper than one off jobs, slick Photoshop filters and an obsessive desire to follow what’s trending. Design, for us, is about becoming an important element of a company’s development, creating successful long term, as well as short term solutions, for our clients and their business wellbeing and doing it right.