We live our lives by the appetites of design. The decision to go here instead of there, or to buy this instead of that, is subconsciously set for us. Much of our daily decision making is carefully tailored by graphic designers. This distinction is important to remember when getting into a business relationship with a graphic designer or company. It’s important to understand that graphic designers are not just order takers, simply hired to push out a product based on budget or time constraints. We are creatives and artists, methodical management consultants and your strategic partners in the design process.
Our partnerships and the creative processes that stem from those relationships closely resemble the relationship you may have with your doctor, where you have specific symptoms that require specific needs. You think you have a cold because of your symptoms (or the vast amount of research your symptoms garnered on a WebMD search), so you ask your doctor for antibiotics. But when you describe the symptoms to the doctor he or she diagnoses you with the flu. Now what you asked for becomes ineffective. Are you going to naysay your doctor or let him or her diagnose you based on knowledge and expertise? Like a doctor, we diagnose your design issues with our particular knowledge and expertise. We take your thoughts into consideration and ask follow-up questions to more finely tune your diagnosis, and based on what we determine your true needs are, we can then prescribe the correct remedy/approach to move forward with your design.
Our approach in diagnosing those needs is strategic and based on organizational goals, and just as a doctor’s prescriptions are different from person to person, our solutions differ from business to business and client to client. The final graphic will always be unique to these specific goals and meet the question we always ask first, “What is the message or story you want to tell with this design?” Design is an investment, and how effectively that design supplies a return on the investment determines its success, not whether or not the client likes a particular color, font or style choice. This is why we are adamant when we say design is not subjective. It’s not important whether the client likes blue; all that matters is this, “Is the use of blue going to support the business objectives of that company?” If a design does not support those goals, then it needs to be removed, because anything that isn’t adding value is distracting from the message. We like to believe that our clients are hiring us as strategic business enablers, and if our designs aren’t meeting the objectives of that organization—whether it’s increasing revenue, promoting awareness, or building confidence—then we aren’t doing our jobs.
In the end, our role as designers lies in our ability to partner with our clients in order to address their organizational needs, and to facilitate this partnership to further create the tailor-made graphics that spark thoughtful conversation and keep people coming back for more (whether they consciously know it or not).