I have been in the design industry for almost thirty years. I have watched a lot of creative be produced — both good and bad. The amount of change in the design industry is astounding. Even as it continues to evolve, I can predict the success of a project before the final work is ever produced. There are many factors that influence the success of a project, but there are three sign posts along that way that will indicate whether a project will get derailed.
Start with strategy
I can’t tell you the number of times I have spoken to prospects who start with… “We want a new logo” or “We want a new website”. There is nothing wrong with this, but the problem is often people determine a solution before they diagnose the problem. Without gaining clarity of what the marketing problem is, developing a strategy, a new brand or website will not move the needle. I can’t emphasize enough that producing good creative requires a deep understanding of what one is trying to accomplish and the resources they have to maintain marketing momentum. A stunning Instagram image that doesn’t have a call to action is going to lack results. Those who ignore a review of what worked on the old site and believe a beautiful website will move people to make a buying decision because the images are evocative will be shocked when prospects dry up. For better or worse, branding and technology continue to alter how people make decisions. Great creative that isn’t born out of a solid strategy will not produce results.
I have had prospects approach me like I am a magician. “Go do your magic”. The problem is I will never know my client’s business better than them. I need their input and understanding of their business and industry. What I bring to the table is a deep understanding of the psychology of marketing and branding and how it continues to be altered by technology. When we put those two minds together, good things will happen.
The tricky part
Even if you have spent the time developing a strategy and there is good insight on the business and the industry, I have seen things fall apart in the design stage. Good creative should generate a response, and often times for the client it is fear! Fear of making a mistake, fear of failure, and sometimes simply a fear of making decisions. Lean in and trust the process. The design does not have to please you personally — especially if you are not the target audience. The goal is not to eliminate everyone’s objections — the more decision-makers, the worse the results. Micromanaging creative will always compromise the end result. Instead of defining solutions (example: move the logo to the top), define problems by asking good questions and let the creatives offer solutions (example: should the logo be more prominent?).
Is it hard?
Strategy, input and trust. They all work together to get results. If it sounds like work, well it is. Working hard get results. More importantly, I have yet to find easy work to be nearly as satisfying.
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