I’m not a tool. I’m a teammate. Whether you are the designer or the client, the best result comes with you are working together. Teammates value what each brings to the table and allows each other to flourish within their skillset. As a designer, I am not here to just execute someone else’s vision. I’m here to use my professional expertise to help produce the right design solution for the client’s goal(s).
Collaboration needs fluid, frequent, and effective communication. It requires and develops trust between all parties. Mutual respect of what each is bringing to table enhances the experience and amplifies the joy of the working relationship. When everyone feels valued and everyone is invested, the chances of success increase exponentially. The best work comes from the best teams and those teams are more likely to want to work together again in the future.
Designers must listen to their clients. It’s their brand/project they are investing their money in. You won’t know what path needs to be taken without conversations and research. Even though you’re the designer, those conversations could spark something within you that leads to the solution. Clients need to listen to their designers. The designers are the experts in the field you need. The designer will provide you with a professional perspective you need. Together, you can ask the necessary questions and answer them all with combined creativity and clarity.
Collaboration also occurs designer to designer. For example, let’s say there is a large visual brand identity project on the table. One designer may not have all the skills to execute the solution. Within the design community, there are specialists. An illustrator may be brought in to work with a user interface designer or a website designer. Collaboration requires you to know your strengths and being willing to trust those who have strengths you don’t.
The north star is the goal. Everything that is done is to serve that end. Put ego aside, amplify self-awareness, and value the expertise of others. Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.
There is a reason you see this when people post their business contact information.
Be selective about who you work with. Once you accept the opportunity to work with someone, that client and that project is your responsibility. In my field, I like to only work with people who understand the value and importance of design. I also love working with people whose projects will bring some positivity into the world, whether through a service or product. Take the time prior to accepting a job to evaluate how well you and the potential client fit with one another. Evaluate how well you can accomplish what is necessary for the project. Be thorough in determining what they need and establish yourself as a teammate and not a tool. Some people are simply looking for technicians while others want to invest in a specialist to join their team for a time.
Keep The Focus On Their Goals
Never take for granted their decision to reach out to you for help. Appreciate every opportunity you have to serve someone else. While appreciating, make sure you are digging. You build trust by digging deeper into their backstory and the backstory of the project. The more they can tell you are personally invested in their success, the more they trust in you as a teammate. You must be invested in their vision beyond the mere monetary transaction. As a graphic designer, I’m not chasing money. I’m chasing purpose. I feel these skills I’ve been blessed with have a purpose attached. My purpose is tied to helping others more efficiently fulfill their purpose through the visual medium. The overall goal and purpose of the project should inform every decision.
Explain The Process & Reasoning
Do your due diligence in “on-boarding” your client. Take the time to explain the process and make them feel welcomed. Just as you need to feel like a teammate so do they. Throughout the process, explain your design decisions with clarity. Also, be open to critique. Try what they may want to see before rejecting their input. Showing is always better than telling. Give options and explain why, in your professional opinion, you would go with one over another. Be the professional and take responsibility for your part in getting the project from idea to tangible reality.
At the end of the day, you need to deliver. A satisfied client will become an ambassador for you. They will go forth and tell the world of how great you are. Others will be listening and come to you with confidence and excitement. Word-of-mouth references are the best. Potential clients will come ready to trust your process after seeing how well it worked out for their friend or colleague. The equity you have built with your client will go a long way in bringing in new ones. Your positive reputation grows with each successful project – putting you in a better position to serve in the future.
Completing logo projects means providing my clients all the files they will need going forward. It’s not just sending a jpeg of the finalized logo. You have to take into account all the possible ways the logo will be applied. Will this logo be used only in the digital space or will there be print elements? Will it work on light and dark backgrounds? Will all the elements of the logo translate well on multiple backgrounds and platforms? Because of these questions and more, I like to provide multiple files for my clients in the final stage.
Many discussions and revisions have led us to this point. We have arrived at the solution the brand needed. Delivery of that solution may need to be in various parts. The logo and its variations are sent in multiple formats, for web and for print. The logo is the centerpiece of their visual brand identity so it needs to be prepared to work.
First, the main logo in full color. Alternate files will include variations of the logo for it to work on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds. For more involved logos, a one-color option can also be handy to have in the future. The one-color option is very versatile. Its uses include letterhead, stamps, or even laser-cut products. For example, the Nike swoosh logo is an extremely versatile, one-color logo that can be used on various products in a variety of colors.
For combination logos (with typography and an icon), you’ll need to think how those will translate horizontally and vertically. Each element will need to be isolated and maneuvered. The results will vary depending on whether you need a banner/sign or a Facebook cover photo.
The needs of the client may require multiple components to be satisfied. Delivering for the client means providing as much value as possible. The more problems you solve preemptively in the delivery stage, the greater the value and the longer it will last.
In the early days of my graphic design career, I wanted people to just let me do all the work. I did not want anyone putting any parameters or requirements on me. It felt good to have complete and utter creative freedom on projects. Now do not get me wrong. Creative freedom is a great thing. However, it can also be a trap that will send you into a black hole of revisions and frustrating back-and-forth discussions that pull you further into the darkness.