Are you a client who has provided a rough creative brief, given your designer ‘a blank canvas’ but found the final result lacking? Are you a designer who has found yourself working to what you believed to be your client’s objectives, only to discover (often too late), that you’ve missed the mark completely? You’re likely to have been missing one crucial ingredient – information.

There is a saying in life that ‘You get out what you put in’. This is never truer than in the case of graphic design. Graphic design is about crafting solutions to real problems. This requires understanding and for understanding, there must be information.

Without information (and a meaningful insight), designers will inevitably have to resort to an awful lot of guesswork, and that’s not a great basis for a successful project. While they may be able to produce something that looks great (that should be a given with a professional), will it really hit the mark when it comes to solving your problem, achieving your objectives or generating results?

A designer who takes the time to unravel your mind and really get to know you will always deliver better results. Put simply, if your designer doesn’t understand you, your audience won’t either.

“Design is the intermediary between information and understanding”
- Hans Hofmann

NEED TO KNOW BASIS…

As a designer, hearing the words “you’re the experts” can be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s fantastic that a client has faith and trust in your ability, but that’s not a reason to bypass the all-important ‘getting to know you’ phase. That process can sometimes take a little time – but ultimately, it’s time well spent for everyone and can mean time and money saved.

The onus for this process falls to both the designer and the client. While a client should be willing and able to provide a detailed insight into context, challenges and preferences, any designer worth their salt should also have the skills to probe further to leave no stone unturned.

“Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous”
- Ralph Caplan

Of course exactly what a designer will need to know will vary from project to project, but as well as the mandatory requirements, here’s an insight into just some of the questions we’d be asking if we don’t already have the answers. (We’ll be unpacking these in more detail in our forthcoming blog post ‘What makes you tick’ so be sure to check back!)

Define the problem – what do you need and why?

  • What are the short and long term strategies/objectives? Where does this project sit in relation to them and other campaign plans?
  • What is your market position and who are your competitors?
  • Who is the target market? Define and characterise as clearly as possible.
  • What is the life expectancy of this project?
  • What are the key messages and/or selling points?
  • How have you communicated with the target market before? Did it work/fail and why?
  • What response is needed and what action do you want people to take?
  • What would you consider to be the key challenges for this project?
  • How would you define success for this project?
  • What is your budget?

Far from being a comprehensive guide to be rigidly adhered to, questions like these simply form a basis for successful projects and client relationships.

SO WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU SKIP THIS ESSENTIAL STAGE?

At best, you could end up with something that looks great but achieves nothing. At worst, you could create confusion undo previous successes and potentially even damage your brand. If that’s not worth a detailed conversation up front, we don’t know what is…