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Stock you can rent. Originals you can own.

Seems over the last few sagging economy driven years our business has lost the desire for that irreplaceable, worth a thousand words, says it without a sound, thing we in the biz like to refer to as “an original image”.  Not sure it’s the uncertainty of budgets, the lack of energy or even a shortage of courage that’s behind it. I know for certain that I’ve seen the same stock image used for two (maybe three!) different healthcare products. We all face the same barriers – “There’s no time”, “There’s no money”, “They’ll never go for that”. There’s even the “We’ve got plenty of images my nephew the photographer took”. Ahh, but there’s hope. There’s desire. There’s the unrelenting designers and art directors who refuse to accept the roadblocks. Witness the college freshman who’s enthusiasm and hardwork led her to tracking down an agency and a photographer to help her bring her campaign (Figure 1 – a contest of all things) to life – with almost no cash.

Then there’s the shoot that appears when it was guaranteed there’s no budget, time or @%!*#!ing way we can do a shoot. (See figure 2). It matters. It’s your brand. It’s what makes your campaign yours. In the end it’s what makes your product/brand own its own real estate.

When you own, you can hang anything you want on the walls.

I’ll have No. 1, 5 and 6

Can presenting more than three design options confuse a client? We’ve all made the mistake of showing two many options, resulting in the dreaded “Chinese Menu-ing” option. The work becomes watered down and the end result not where we envisioned. Is it the client’s fault or should they have the right to choose? Our knowledge, direction and presentation are important in their decision before revealing concepts.

We might be investing too much time into multiple comps, when presenting this could say we cannot make up our minds and confuse the client. A recent design experience brought me to this scenario. Several months ago I did some design work for a friend, who wanted to rebrand her company Concrete Polish, first task was to redesign her logo. After revealing six logo options, she loved elements from multiple logos; in conclusion the client was indecisive. Six rounds later I had explored mixing logos, leading down different paths and eventually coming back to original ideas. I wish I had done more research in the beginning, however the overall exploration and relationship was positive and the final logo reflected the style and tone of her jewelry.

So how do we succeed in the creative process? An initial meeting is a great education tool for both the designer and the client. By showing confidence in the client and explaining your process, it is ensures them on how we will succeed. Invest more time in sketching and do your research instead of jumping onto the computer for polished pieces. It is welcomed in some instances to invite the client to see the behind the scenes of first round sketches, the client will feel involved while you guide them in decision making. I recently visited the Archer Group’s new workplace where they showed us a room specifically for creative brainstorming; they often invite their clients into the room with white board walls and beanbag chairs.

Try taking the approach of presenting two or three strong conceptual design comps; remember you have the ultimate decision in showing the strongest. A mood board is also great tool to plan two ways of attack; in pulling colors, feelings, styles and images can help narrow down a direction. In the end it really helps to be open and build the foundation up instead of back tracking; the more knowledge and communication can avoid mixing and matching because you will have a more direct idea of the client’s needs. It can be a learning process from client to client and there are always ways to improve. We’d love to hear tips on how you make the process smoother?