An Essential Factor for Successful Graphic Design
Making the Brand™ — Denver, 2008 has proven to be a fantastic experience for all of us. An important goal of the contest is to educate the small business community on the branding process — and what to expect when working with your team of brand experts.
Following a proofing session last week with the Making the Brand™ winners, Renaissance Adventure Guides, they remarked on how pleased they were that so few revisions were needed and how well the design portrayed their company, met their marketing goals, and targeted their audience. While the design had the benefit of being backed by extensive market research provided by CreativeXchange Marketing, Renaissance has been a valuable asset to the project by being open, honest, and objective throughout the process.
A few days later, I was on the phone discussing a project with a peer of mine whose client was not satisfied with the results of their project. They were blaming their dissatisfaction on “poor design skills” when in fact the design was by no means poor, but rather inappropriately targeted due to a lack of communication between client and designer.
So how do you prevent “poor design”?
While expertise with the current software, years of experience, a thorough understanding of the marketing goals (audience, company and the competition), a creative mind, artistic talent, and the ability to combine all of those components into a communication piece may seem like enough to provide a successful end product — there still remains one element of key importance: honest and objective communication.
Communication is not a one-sided process — both parties must be open and have a level of respect for the other party’s expertise. The focus should be on working together to achieve a successful end product.
Within commercial design projects, a few key communication points are critical:
- Initial communications should include all critical areas of the project, from final use and reproduction (print vs. web, etc.) to the audience, competition, and company goals.
- The designer should provide their input on the initial project concept – based on their experience with design and marketing — or provide consulting with a marketing expert. (The “what works / what doesn’t work” advice. Why design a direct mail piece when direct mail will not provide effective exposure for the client’s goals?)
- Concepts (from taglines to photography and design implementation comps) should be based on the project’s objectives, and the designer should be able to support the rationale behind the design.
- The client should feel comfortable providing input to the designer without feeling that they would be offending the “artistic talent”. (Remember, you hired a commercial design professional, they thrive on objective input.)
- The client should listen to the rationale behind the design. Whether it is color, imagery or font selection, the best and most appropriate solution is the one that targets the project’s goals.
- The designer needs to be receptive to any criticism or critique of the presented designs.
- Both parties need to be focused on the end result — neither one insisting on their personal viewpoint, but rather relying on the actual needs based on the objective of obtaining audience approval.
The next time you’re in a proofing session and are pleased with the outcome, pat yourself on the back — you picked the right design team to work with, and you provided the necessary information/resources to achieve the goal.
When you are not satisfied with the presented designs, communicate why, and work together to achieve satisfaction.
One of the more difficult processes of running our business has always been finding partners with who want open and honest communication. There is a saying in the guiding industry that says “Good friends stab you in the front" — meaning that if you want your clients/partners to succeed you will be upfront with them at all times. Working with Phases Design Studio has been just such a relationship for us.
Over the course of our working relationship with Phases we have been pleasantly rewarded with products requiring little/no revisions. The first project was a new logo. Kandra presented us with four designs; one of which she thought was the best. We asked for some other designs as well and she provided us with two additional proofs. After doing a blind study some of our key clientèle we found that her original suggestion was the winner. Next, we had several intensive meetings to delineate our needs and goals with our new brochure. The result was astonishing for us – a piece that was so close to perfect that it only needed a few small revisions. It was almost like she could read our minds and then made it better. We are currently in progress on our website and we are ecstatic with the initial results.
I highly recommend Phases Design Studio to any business looking to work together with a graphic designer for professional results in a timely manner."