It’s good to talk

This is something that should start from the moment the design team receives a brief. It’s the first opportunity in understanding what the projects objectives are, a time to identify the target market, brand values and also ask questions about anything that is unclear or ambiguous. Ploughing on thinking these areas can be identified later will only lead to design work that lacks focus and will, barring a huge slice of luck, miss the mark, and ultimately leave the customer and design team frustrated. If this is a pitch process and this early line of dialogue hasn’t been opened expect to be discarded at the first stage.

Here are some examples of basic questions. These can also help when writing a brief:

Who is the target audience?

An identity which appeals to under 25’s is in most cases not going to appeal to over 50’s. Here it is important for designer and client to first put themselves in the shoes of the demographic. It is more than likely that neither are the target audience themselves, so good research is key. Without this knowledge it is impossible to know where to start.

What are the brand’s values?

This can help greatly in finding the right creative direction, whether it be corporate, playful or environmental. Again it will help in research terms, knowing what to look for and identifying anyone else in the market who are communicating the same values well.

Have you seen any examples of people/organisations who are doing this well?

A more direct question but useful for both parties as it can give an insight into a clients opinion on what works and what doesn’t.

What do you mean by...?

You can insert any number of vague descriptions in here, ‘iconic’, ‘aspirational’, ‘memorable’. These are used to communicate a clients feeling for the brand, the key is to translate those sentiments into something more tangible. For example ‘aspirational’ may in fact give an insight into the target market. Fleshed out to mean ‘has disposable income’, ‘enjoys the finer things in life', ‘likes exclusivity’. Highlighting a market which is unlikely to respond to a more ‘budget’ focussed design approach. And the only way the designer will know this is to ask.

“...it is important for designer and client to first put themselves in the shoes of the demographic.”

Don’t let the conversation end there.

As the designer you should now have everything you need to begin your research and as a client have the confidence that said designer understands your objectives.There is a lot of value in sharing your research with the client, it can help establish any areas which work and are worth looking at in the further, whilst continuing to build a collaborative approach to the project.Once design work has begun discuss early visuals and ideas with the client, as they are best placed to establish whether a design meets it’s objectives. Offering suggestions for refinements that can be made and giving advice on ideas which require further development. This process of staggered work can also help ensure better productivity and a fuller delivery.There are often more stakeholders to consider, and as we know design can be subjective. As much as we try not to be influenced by personal opinion, we all have our likes and dislikes. Ultimately though we share the desired outcome for the project.So, simply asking the right questions and talking throughout the design process will give greater understanding to all and result in the best work possible. And isn’t that what all any of us want?

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