CLIENT SESSION: HOW TO WORK EFFECTIVELY WITH DESIGNERS

We’ve just started working with a great new client, and to kick off the relationship our directors Jake and Shane were invited to speak at their marketing team’s recent away-day.

We’ve been brought on board to design their ad campaigns, and as we all know a designer’s mind can work in wonderful yet mysterious ways. So our session offered helpful tips on getting the best out of the marketeer-designer relationship. Here’s a summary.

CLIENT PET HATES

First we delved into what we know from our experience frustrates marketeers about designers…

Briefing vs dictating. Marketeers want designers to interpret their vision and brief creatively, not to draw what has been dictated (sometimes word by word) by the client. After all, that’s the designer’s job.

Speed. Sometimes even the smallest or most straightforward amends or requests take days, or even weeks. Marketeers simply don’t have this luxury.

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Ego vs commercial reality. Designers, like everyone else, don’t always like to be told they’re wrong! But sometimes their work isn’t right for the brand’s audience – an audience the client knows best.

Laziness and complacency. Mind blanks and tiredness get to the best of us. But when a client asks for, say, a revamping of last year’s campaign, what they don’t expect is a simple reskinning of the artwork. Unfortunately slackness of this kind does happen, and frankly there’s no excuse for it!

DESIGNER PET HATES

Next we looked at what some marketeers do that prevents designers from delivering great work.

Unclear direction. Designers work best when they are given creative licence and freedom, but clear boundaries too. Therefore clients need to communicate clearly what they’re looking for. Not just colours, typography etc but also what they envisage in terms of end result (and what they want to avoid).

Too many cooks. Sometimes individuals not involved in the decision-making process are invited to feed back. Or certain stakeholders want changes made to work signed off by other stakeholders. Either way, it’s inherently frustrating.

Unrealistic expectations. Specifically, what is possible in terms of output when budget and timeline are tight. There is a solution for every budget and cost, but the friction arises when clients expect more for less.

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HOW CLIENTS CAN GET THE BEST WORK

Finally we gave some tips for our audience of marketeers to take home.

Trust your designer. What they do is borne out of years of experience. (But it’ll only work if they trust you too!)

Provide examples. Designers think visually. Mood boards and other design work are great starting points.

Don’t expect perfection on the first draft. Relax, and give clear feedback. A good designer will appreciate your suggestions (and constructive criticism), and get it right second time.

Avoid generalised feedback. Phrases like ‘make it pop’and ‘jazz it up’ don’t actually mean anything. Be specific.

Comment on key elements. There are five main components to graphic design: colour, fonts (typography), images, layout and overall aesthetic. Feeding back on what you do/don’t like about each is efficient and effective.

Try not to be too controlling. It’s difficult, as it’s your project being paid for out of your budget. But designers don’t work well when micro-managed. If you find yourself having to be this way, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s all about communication, so communicate!

Know when to say when. It’s easy to obsess and lose perspective when you are too close to something. Step back, take a deep breath, and always try to view it from the point of view of your target audience. If you are very close but just can’t seem to get exactly what you are looking for, perhaps it’s time to embrace what’s good about it and move on.