As a graphic designer, my favorite campaigns are the ones who are starting from scratch, or the ones that are looking to re-brand with a fresh look. Often, these business owners are excited and full of ideas. THIS is where inspiration comes from! As part of the process I will sit down with the business owner and do an interview, so I can get a feel for their business, what they are expecting and any elemental requirements (such as shapes, colors, etc). Often I leave these meetings overflowing with inspiration, and I am able to accurately and efficiently convey that energy into a workable logo and campaign that said business owner can be proud to use moving forward. I can almost feel when I have “nailed” it, and I love presenting those creative pieces to an expectant client who is then excited about their new image.
But occasionally I will sit down with a business owner who has absolutely no idea what they want to see for their new brand. No amount of prodding or questioning can extract so much as a color preference, much less a theme or element that they feel helps represent their business. They will sit and shrug their shoulders when asked, “What do you see representing your business? Do you want a corporate feel or a more casual, fun look?” They will smile and say, “No, I don’t know. I really have no idea.”
These clients generally have an attitude of, “Well. You are the creative, you know what to do.” OR “If I knew what I wanted for a logo I wouldn’t need to hire YOU.” While I understand that running and launching a new business is daunting and that most left brainers don’t have the vision necessary to do the creative, this attitude from a business owner is not only demeaning, it is setting their designer up for failure, and ultimately, hindering their business.
Imagine you are about to paint a picture. Your instructor simply says, “Paint a picture.” You are faced with a blank canvas and a mind reeling with ideas an possibilities! Suppose you even go on line and research what the standard is for a painted picture. You gather data, look at the “market” and decide on subject matter that you feel fits the criteria. You then begin to paint. You have unlimited use of color and texture – you utilize all elements to the best of your ability and present your instructor with the final piece. He looks it over and says, “That’s not what I was looking for.” You are sent back to the drawing board with no more an idea of what the instructor wants to see than when you started. This is the beginning of a vicious circle of presenting paintings and not even touching on what the instructor really wants. This cycle can happen infinite times, most likely ending with you never hitting the nail on head, so to speak. How many times do you present before losing all interest in the outcome?
Now imagine the same scenario, where the instructor says, “Paint a picture using only red and black, depicting a wild animal.”
WOW! Ok, now you can run with that and create varying paintings based on that criteria and your research. You present 4 paintings and the instructor looks them over, pulling the stronger elements of one or two and using those as a direction for the final piece. You create that final painting with excitement and vigor because you are confident that the outcome is exactly what the instructor is looking for, and you have aced the project.
That’s the design process in a nutshell. This process is a partnership. It is absolutely the graphic designers job to listen to you, find out about your business, evaluate your goals for the project, and seek a way to help reach them. It is the designers job to create a cohesive campaign for your business that will convey and reinforce your brand and it is 100% your designers job to bring the creativity and skill to the table. And, while much of what a good designer does is a combination of intuition, research and skill, it is not the designers job to mind read their way through your project.
To have a truly successful campaign, you will need to contribute as much input to the process as possible. Open communication with your designer is vital. If you truly have no idea what it is that you want to see representing your business, I would recommend that you do a little research on other campaigns within your market, and if nothing else, make note of what you DON’T like about campaigns others are running. This will at least give a point of reference for your developer.
Remember that there are 2 sides to every relationship, and each has their responsibilities.
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