Advantages Working with a Small Boutique Creative Agency

For a long time now big brands have worked with big creative agencies to work on their marketing, but lately what these big brands have found is they have top-heavy processes, people and systems. But lately there is a move towards a small boutique creative agency that can work more closely achieving your goals – at a fraction of the price.

What is Project Management?

Project Manager

We constantly get asked all the time ‘What does a Project Manager do’? ‘What is it doing in your breakdown of costs on our quote’?

As a design professional I meet a lot of people that have no idea what a project manager does, and how important they are in delivering a quality product, with no hassles.

It’s a tough question to answer. Especially because in many design firms the project manager is still an emerging position.

Project managers are responsible for the leadership of the project from start to finish. They lead a team and help negotiate relationships within the project—whether it’s with clients, team members, printers, photographers, etc.

Project managers are not the people chasing work and developing new relationships. Instead, they maintain a healthy client relationship throughout the course of the project. This often can turn into a long-term business relationship.

Once the contract is agreed upon and signed, the team is then assembled. Most projects start with a team meeting, that may differ depending on the goals and scope of the work. It is up to the project manager to decide what the best approach to the work should be. Sometimes project managers tend to forget their role is to lead, not dictate, they need to have a vision and an approach, as well as have a clear understanding of the goal.

For us at DesignLab, “It’s all about the relationships.” In a collaborative project setting, successful relationships between team members are essential, and the job of keeping the foundation often falls to the project manager. Conflicts can be an important part of the creative process, but it’s really important that it doesn’t sidestep the project.

One way is to make sure that every team member feels valued, and that they are an important part of the project. This can include making sure that team members are coached effectively, and praised, especially during the challenging stages. It is the project manager’s job to care about the quality of work, and that is the same about the quality of the working environment. Maintaining a positive working environment builds good rapport between the team, and keeps enthusiasm levels on a high.

For the hands-on graphic designer, the profession and work consists of big ideas and the small details. It’s not just enough to have a great concept these days — you have to be able to execute it, and this often means working through painstaking precise and multiple iterations of a concept until you get it right.

It’s the project manager who has to keep an eye on the goals & objectives of the project, both for the client and the design team. Clients can be just as easily fooled by sexy layouts, but it’s the project manager’s job to avoid those temptations and make sure the project meets its objectives.

Although design agencies can benefit from a project manager, they are not always required, especially if an agency has many experienced design professionals. Project managers usually are best in mid-sized to larger agencies with at least 20 staff or more.

In smaller design agencies, an art director or design director often functions as the project manager, and may be capable of handling the role. But sometimes project management is the last thing an art director wants to — or should — be doing. This is where a project manager can relieve the pressure of the art director of these responsibilities so that they can focus on the quality of the design rather than the project process.

Hiring a project manager will not solve all of your agencies issues. But allowing for leadership of your projects, and your agencies work will enable smoother outcomes, and a better workflow, and maybe even encourage leadership within your agency.

Finding the right team, giving correct direction and managing the working environment — while focusing on a strategic direction and staying on top of deadlines and deliverables — are all part of a project manager’s role. It’s a challenging task. But if you can find someone who is good at it, you can build your business and improve the quality of your portfolio.

How To Write A Design Brief

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How does a client get the design they want? The perfect design you dream about in your head? … Writing a design brief is the answer.

Whether you are a designer or a client, an effective design brief is the most important factor in ensuring that a project is successful straight away.

This article will tell you how to write a design brief that will be both beneficial to the client and design agency.

This article will be based from the client’s perspective though.

1. What Is A Design Brief?

What is a design brief? A design brief is something that is critical to any design project as provides the designer with all the information needed to meet and exceed your expectations.

A design brief should focus on the results and outcomes of the design and the business objectives of the design project. It should not try to deal with the aesthetics of the design. That is the responsibility of the designer.

The design brief also allows the client to focus on exactly they want a designer to achieve before any work starts.

A good design brief will ensure that you get a high quality design that meets your requirements, providing you have chosen the right design agency.

2. How To Write A Design Brief

Answer these questions below and your design brief will be nearly finished… the rest will come from questions from the design agency after you submit the brief.

Answer the questions and remember, to provide as much detail as possible! Please this does not mean one line answers, the more you explain, the easier it is for the design agency.

What does your business do?

Be concise and clear 

  • What does your company / organisation do?
  • What is your company’s history?

What are the goals?

  • What are you trying to communicate and why?
  • What is the overall goal of the new design project?
  • Are you trying to sell products or raise awareness of your products / service?
  • How do you differ from your competitors?
  • Do you want to completely rebrand yourself, or are you updating your products / service?

Who is the target market?

  • What is your target market’s psychographics & demographics ie. age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle, trends, habits.

What content is needed?

The copy and pictures used in a design are crucial as the design itself and you should clearly state who is going to be providing the copy and pictures.  You may need to look into getting a professional copywriter / photographer – ask your design agency for some recommendations.

  • What copy is to be included in the design? And who is providing the copy?
  • What pictures / photographs / diagrams / infographics etc need to be used? And who is providing these?

What are the specs?

  • What size is the design going to be? i.e A4, A3, DL, etc.
  • Where is it going to be printed? Is it online, business cards, stationery, or signage on your car?
  • What other information should the designer know in regards to specifications?

Have you got something already in mind?

  • You should provide the design agency with some examples of what you feel to be effective or relevant to your design, even if it is from your main competitors (you can learn a lot from your competitors). This can help set a benchmark for your design agency.
  • Provide the design agency with things not to do. This will give the designer an idea of what to avoid and will avoid you being disappointed.

What Is Your Budget?

  • Providing the budget upfront allows the designers to know if the project is going to be worthwhile to complete.

What is the deadline?

  • Give the design agency a detailed schedule and set realistic deadlines for the completion of the work. You need to take into account the stages of the design project such as consultation, concept development, production and final delivery.

Rushing jobs helps no one and mistakes can be made if a job is pushed through without time to review.

And now a tip For The Design Agency

As a design agency it is important to have a template such as this to give to clients on your first meeting. By having a template ready, it shows them your’e professional and saves them (and you) a lot of time and money.

 

Why White Space is Good For Graphic Design

Why White Space is Good For Graphic Design

Graphic design is a method to communicate a certain message by using elements such as visual arts, typography or layout techniques whether we are referring to newspapers, ads, logos or websites. This style of design is defined by visual communication and it takes time and experience to master the best of its techniques so that your audience will understand your message.

Graphic design is a process that consists of seven steps that you have to take into consideration when designing. That way you can ease your work, be more organised and meet deadlines in time. It can begin with analysing your audience, stepping through defining the purpose of your message and then establishing layout and visual graphics that you will use in order to send your correct message.

There are hundreds of tips on how to perfect graphic design, but our blog is dedicated entirely to white space.

1. What is White Space?

White space means having a good eye for composition. This means you have to be able to find the right composition so that the information or whatever you are focusing on will be easy to read and spot.

There are 2 types of white space:

  1. Active (this insures a better structure and layout in design, it gives focus to the content. It is usually left out on purpose)
  2. Passive (this is the default white space left out at borders or in between content in order to make it readable)

White space DOES exists for a reason – it is to ease the process of analysing graphics so this is what you have to remember while using it in graphic design. It is a tested fact that the human eye percepts an organised and clean layout better than a cluttered space full of disturbances.

Why should you design with White Space?

To balance the layout

Passive white space is one of the reasons why text is visually received and understood easier, whether it’s regular white space or negative space, used in designs with dark background and white text.  The more space you use the easier to read and it also improves readability. Space creates a certain balance in your output, making it easier to digest.

Emphasise objects

In order to focus a viewer on a picture, try using a white border. This way you will attract attention on what’s inside the object or a picture for that matter. Always make use of white space in these situations and you will see how much more improved your design will be.

Focus on certain content

Another great technique for using white space in your graphic design is using it in a excess way. This does not always work for all designs, but when used appropriately it can really be effective and powerful. Imagine a text that has lots of white space around it. Tumblr has so many pictures like this and your eyes go straight to the text.

People really do appreciate it

At the end of the day the simpler the design looks, the better it is received by people. A cluttered design is like a cluttered desk – you can never find what you need, or if you find it than you spend lots of time looking for it. There is a bigger chance that your customers will love your design.

Your layout really appreciates it

Sit down and play with your layout, see how much it changes when you make use of  all the white space. Instead of cluttering for example your images and your text that goes with it together, try separating them by using white space. It will depend on whether you use a vertical or horizontal layout, but white space will  focus more on your content.

An elegant design is guaranteed

We have always considered white and black as the most elegant colours. They are simple, classic and timeless, and they do send the right message when you need them. White is pure, black is strong and this is why most graphic designers make use of these two colours. Larger companies use a lot of white space to advertise their products.

Remember white space is important, but it does depend on you how you want to use it, you need to be experience. If you use it in excess you might get either a boring design or on the flip side a truly unique design. Use it a little bit to get a cluttered design, or to leave out the most important elements.

 

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The Importance of Letterhead design

Over the last couple of weeks we have talked about the importance of business stationery, and how business cards are such an essential part of selling your brand.  Today I want to discuss the importance of letterhead design.

Why your letterhead is important

Your Company logo

Your business has a logo for a reason. This logo will define and identify your brand, and will help your customers to recognise you. So by putting your business logo on your stationery you expose your brand and what it stands for, in turn giving you a far greater brand awareness in your industry and among your customers.

It backs up your brand

Every business wants its customers to know that it offers the best service or the most affordable products, then your letterhead therefore needs to reinforce your brand message.

If your brand is all about providing a professional, bespoke service (for example) then you should make sure that your letterhead reflects this, whether that’s with a clean design, or by colours and fonts. Once you’ve chosen the particular identifiers, make sure to stick to them across all of your business’ communication for consistency.

It shows legality and authority

Not only does your business letterhead present who you are, which helps to identify your brand; but it should also be used for all official documentation. It reinforces your brand’s authority and gives the remainder of the letter credibility.

What makes a good letterhead design?

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Clean and simple

Your letterhead should be easy to read, so it’s important for it to be a clean and simple design. Your letterhead should consist of your logo and any contact details.

Contact details

It’s important that your customers can contact you by looking at your letterhead. This means ensure your contact details are relevant and up to date.

Two font rule

Now this is in the eye of the beholder, but we feel you shouldn’t use any more than two fonts in your letterhead design. Try to choose a font which reflects your logo. You may decide to use a specific typeface for all of your marketing communication.

Company colours

You should make sure that your letterhead contains any corporate colours from you logo. A business which sells items specifically related to food for example will likely opt for green and red, rather than purple, it’s simple logic.

Good examples of successful letterheads

Below is a look at some examples of what we think is successful letterhead designs. Just remember as long as you include the right information, and keep any design consistent with your brand’s identity, you can’t go wrong.

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Simply in the shape of a comb, this works great for a barber shop.

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Choosing a corporate colour must have been a bit of a no brainer with a name like Redbrick.

If you want to chat to DesignLab about how we can help with your business stationery in Adelaide, call Spiros 0n 0431 926 575.

Good Business Card Design Adelaide

Good business card design Adelaide is so important to your brand. Your business card can be considered one of the most important marketing tools you can have for your brand and business. You are giving you’re contact information to potential customers. In order for the business card to do its job, it has to be professional, memorable and attractive.

It is very important for your business card to be attractive and memorable. Think that some people receive hundreds of business cards and they rarely remember any of them. Making your business card memorable is and should important.

Some mandatories we advise all our clients are your logo must be simple and symbolic to your business services and the industry that is associated with. Having your website and email address is a must these days. Customers will be searching for a website where to look for information about your business and for an email if they want to contact you. If you’re missing these, you better keep the cards to yourself, cause handing them to people would be pointless.

What people appreciate more than anything else in a business card is it’s quality. Your brand is reflected by your business card, and if you have one with a good paper quality and print finish, the first impression of a possible client will be far better than from a regular business card.

In short business cards will never go away. They remain an effective tool for building networks and keeping in contact with clients.

 

The business cards showcased below are a really good example of how to make your card stand out.

Speak to Spiros at DesignLab if you want to take your business card to the next level and really stand out.

 

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Selling Your Design Value

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As design agencies face more and more competition in selling their design services, they are now looking to areas where they can add design value for clients (and get paid for that added value).

For years now advertising / marketing gurus speak about something called USP (unique selling proposition). This has based on assumptions that an area of a product / service could have a unique resonance with a particular market demographic.

Value proposition – what is it?

Value proposition is the promise of a value to be delivered to a client. True value proposition works when the receiver of the value (client) has acknowledged that they have received value from the product or service.

A value proposition can apply to an any organisation, products or services.

Preparing value proposition is part of a business strategy.  Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.

Design value proposition – what is it?

A design value proposition is written from a working analysis of your client and your competitors. From these you can identify what value design can add to your clients’ business. Value that you know your competitor don’t offer.

The design value proposition has three important key statements.

  1. The areas that a client values.
  2. How a designer can offer services to enhance and communicate the value to customers
  3. Example of success that the designer has had in project with a peer.

Design value proposition – how to use it?

The design value proposition is not a statement you put on your website, however it does guide your submission and pitches to clients. Its structure is the structure you use in pitches. You begin by showing the client you understand what it is they value. Then you outline a strategy for your services to communicate the value to customers. You may also show a strategy to enhance the value through design. The submission would finish with a budget and projected return on investment based on a similar project.

Value pricing

In any resignation, price your service on the value they generate for your client, not the number of hours it will take.
Your design value proposition needs to show the value of your service that can return for the client and now you’re asking for a part of that increased value.

It does requires trust and confidence

As stated above in the value proposition definition it has to require the client to acknowledge the added value. This is only possible if the client respects and trusts the designer…i.e. you!