Logo Design Adelaide
Your logo occupies a very special place hence you should never undervalue its importance. Logo Design Adelaide is an element that symbolises your business.
We offer value for money when designing a logo in Adelaide.
Why is a logo so important for your business?
A logo is so much more than just an image and some text. It is the face of your business, we all know that first impressions is everything. A logo is a point of recognition for your clients and and most important the foundation of the branding of your business.
A professionally-designed logo is the best way to convey to your customers that your business is first and up-most professional, trustworthy, and provides quality service or goods.
Your logo is not your brand. Branding is completely different, a brand is the experience and perception your customers have of your business.
But your logo is important to your business because its job is to communicate your value, quality and ownership of your business. Your logo is imprinted on your products, your stationary, social media, website and most importantly in the minds of your customers.
Logos do bombard us. Think of cloth labels, or running shoes (Nike), and computers (Apple). From the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, they’re are part of our daily lives.
The average Australia sees 14,000 logos, adverts and labels in one day.
Look around. How many logos can you see?
Because we are producing such a ridiculous amount of information, we’re seeing logos that are so similar to each another, and this can pose a problem for businesses that are trying to differentiate themselves visually, but it can also create an opportunity for graphic design agencies who can create iconic designs that stand out the crowd.
A logo-less business is a faceless human
For hundreds of years, we have needed and desired some sort of social identification. For example think of a farmer who brands his cattle to mark his ownership, or a stonemason who chisels his trademark on his work.
Try this… close your eyes and picture McDonald’s, what comes into your mind? the golden arches? For those businesses and companies that have a strong brand identity, it’s the identity that consumers often think of first, rather than what they sell. Think of Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Google, and Starbucks.
Chances are if you didn’t see their logos, you would still have a fairly good idea of what their logos look like. Mind you, a huge marketing budget is necessary to achieve this sort of brand recognition of such organisations, but it’s important to “put on your best face.”
Symbols transcend boundaries
To sell products all over the globe, your brand has to speak a lot of different languages. This is why we have logos because they are easy-to-identify symbols that need no translation. Recognisable regardless of language or culture, logos which are symbols enable businesses to cross barriers, globally compete and maintain brand consistency across a wide range of marketing media.
Rethinking the importance of brand identity
We usually judge books by their covers, whether it’s right or not, it’s just how we are programmed. That’s why the perceived value of a product or service is usually better than the actual thing. The same identity seen over and over again builds trust, and trust keeps customers always coming back for more.
It’s kind of like putting a face to a name— logos help people remember their experiences with business and companies.
It’s important during initial discussions with any design agency, as a way of driving home the importance of choosing us your’e preferred designer.
Elements of an iconic design
Anyone can design a logo, just like anyone can paint a house, but not everyone can design the right logo or paint a house like a professional painter does.
A successful logo may meet the goals set in a design brief, but a truly iconic design will be simple, enduring, relevant, memorable, and adaptable.
So many requirements may seem like a large order. But remember, you have to know the rules in any creative endeavor before you can break them successfully.
A Michelin-star chef doesn’t just grab ingredients from thin air. They take a tried-and-tested recipe and adapt it to create their signature dish. This same rule also applies to creating a brand identity.
The basic elements of a classic iconic logo is the ingredients in your own recipe, so let’s examine each one closely before you go out and earn your own awards.
Keep it simple
I am sure you have heard keep is simple, and that’s because the simplest solution is often the most effective. Why? Because a simple logo helps meet most of the other requirements of iconic design.
Simplicity helps a logo be much more versatile. Adopting a minimalist approach assists your logo to be used across a wide range of media, such as business cards, billboards, pin badges, and websites.
Simplicity also makes your design easier to recognise, so it stands a greater chance of achieving a timeless quality. Think of the logos of large corporations like Apple,Nike, Mitsubishi and Samsung. Their logos are simple, and they’re easier to recognse because of it.
And simplicity helps people remember your design. Consider how our minds work, and how it’s much easier to remember a single detail, such as Mona Lisa’s smile, than it is to remember five: the clothes Mona Lisa wears, how her hands are placed, the colour of her eyes, what sits behind her, the artist (Leonardo da Vinci—but that one you did know, didn’t you?). Look at it this way: If someone asked you to sketch the McDonald’s logo, and then sketch the Mona Lisa, which would be more accurate?
Make it relevant
Any logo you design must be appropriate for the business it identifies. Are you designing for a accountant? Then you need to not go with the fun approach. How about a cancer organisation? A smiley face clearly won’t work.
Your design must be relevant to the industry and the audience to which you’re marketing for. Getting up to speed on all these aspects requires a lot of in-depth research, but the investment of time is worth it.
Without a strong knowledge of your client’s world, you can’t hope to create a design that successfully differentiates your client’s business from its closest competitors.
When it comes to logo identity, it’s best to leave the trends to the fashion industry. Trends come and go and the last thing you want to do is invest a large amount of your time and your client’s money in a design that will become dated quickly.
Longevity is key, and a great logo should last for the duration of the business. It might get refined after some time to add a little freshness, but the underlying idea should remain intact.
Aim for individuality
A individual logo is one that can be easily separated from it’s competition. The logo has a unique style that accurately portrays it’s client’s perspective, so how do you create a logo that’s so unique?
The best strategy is to focus initially on a design that is recognisable. Working in only black and white can help you create a more distinctive mark, since contrast emphasises the shape or the idea. Colour really is secondary to the shape and form of your design.
Commit to memory
A iconic design is one that people will remember after just one quick look. For example, think passengers traveling on a bus, looking out the window and noticing a billboard as the bus drives past. Or what about a pedestrian, looking up just as a branded truck drives by. Quite often, one quick glance is all the time you get to make an impression.
But how do you focus on this one element of iconic design?
It sometimes helps to think about the logos that you remember most when you sit down at the drawing table. What is it about them that keeps them ingrained in your memory? It also helps to limit how much time you spend on each sketch idea—try
30 seconds. Otherwise, how can you expect an onlooker to remember it with a quick glance? You want viewers’ experience with your client’s brand identity to be such that the logo is remembered the instant they see it the next time.
As much as you might want to see your work plastered across everywhere, don’t forget your logo may also need to accommodate smaller, and necessary applications, such as clothing labels or favicons. Clients are usually excited about a adaptable logo, since it can save them a substantial amount of money on printing costs, brand implementation meetings, potential redesigns, and more.
Simplicity is key in creating a flexible design. Your logo should ideally work at a minimum size, without any loss of detail. The only way to accomplish this is to keep it simple, which will also help your chances of hitting on a design that is likely to last.
Focus on one thing
Designs that are iconic and stand out from the crowd have just one thing to help them stand out. That’s it. Just one. Not two, or three. You want to leave your client with just one thing to remember about your design. Your client’s customers won’t spend a lot of time studying the logo. Usually, one quick glance, and they’re gone.
The vital key ingredients in your signature dish
We’ve talked about the elements that should be part of your iconic logo. How memorable are these elements for you now? Since they’re not as easy to remember as a brilliant minimal black-and-white design, it might help to do a quick review:
Keep it simple. The simplest solution is often the most effective. Why? Because a simple logo helps meet most of the other requirements of iconic design.
Make it relevant. Any logo you design must be appropriate for the business it identifies. For example, as much as
you might want to use a fun design that makes everyone smile, this approach is not ideal for businesses like the local crematorium.
Incorporate tradition. Trends come and go. With logo identity, the last thing you want is to invest a significant amount of your time and your client’s budget in a design direction that looks dated almost overnight.
Aim for distinction. Begin by focusing on a design that is recognisable. So recognisable, in fact, that just its shape or outline gives it away.
Commit to memory. Usually one quick glance is all the time you get to make an impression, so you want your customer experience to be such that your logo is remembered the instant they see it every time.
Think small. Your design should ideally work at a minimum of around one inch in size without loss of detail so that it can be put to use for many different applications.
Focus on one thing. Incorporate just one feature to help your designs stand out. That’s it. Just one. Not two, three, or four.
Remember rules are made to be broken
By sticking to rules for creating logos, you stand a greater chance of delivering timeless logos that leave your clients wanting more. But can you do more? And do you always need to play by the rules? Keep in mind that rules are made to be broken. It’s up to you to tread a new direction and break through the boundaries to create logos that are a cut above the rest. Whether your results are successful will obviously be open to interpretation, but you’ll learn so much more and so much faster when any potential mistakes are your own, rather than someone else’s.
Laying the groundwork
At some point during the process, you may find yourself educating your client about logo design, but first you must understand your client. Without knowing the finer details of your client’s business, their reasons for seeking a brand identity, and expectations of the process and the final design, you can’t possibly be successful.
Gathering these sort of details takes a significant amount of time, especially when you’re busting to get started on the fun bit — designing. But if you shorten on the time and attention required at this early stage and dive right into the design work, you risk completely missing your client’s mark.
Ironing out jitters
At the onset of just about any design project, you or your client, or sometimes both of you, will likely be feeling some anxiety. That’s because, as any designer with a bit of experience can attest, the client-designer relationship doesn’t always run smoothly.
You need to be careful choosing your clients, in the same way that clients often choose from a number of design agencies. Always remember that you’re being hired because you are the experts. The client should not assume the role of telling you what to do, they should be comfortable simply letting you do what you do best — create iconic brand identities.
If you feel uneasy in any way about your relationship with the client, you should definitely find a way to discuss it with them. There’s nothing like great communication to get a clear sense of what is expected, both on your part and on the part of your client.
Most clients will be anxious about the process of having a brand created for their business. They see ideas as a big risk. So the more in-depth your initial discussions, the more at ease you will make your clients. It may be that it’s their first time working on an identity project, and it’s up to you to show them how smoothly the process can flow.
It’s all in the brief
Understanding your client’s motivations involves a lot more than simply setting minds at ease. We are not mind readers, so a series of specific questions and answers about your client’s needs and desires is the first order of business. You then turn this information into a design brief that reflects the expectations of both you and your client for the project.
The brief plays a very important role in guiding both you and the client to an effective outcome. There may be stumbling blocks that crop up along the way—your client may disagree with a decision you’ve made, for instance. It’s at points like this when you can return to the details of the brief to back up your stance.
That’s not to say you won’t make changes to the design as a result of an disagreement, you want to please your client. But the design brief exists to provide both of you with concrete reasons for making decisions throughout the design process.
There are a number of ways you might gather the information you need from your client: either by telephone, email, video chat, or better yet in person. I find that with clients, it’s useful to pose questions in the form of an online question or email. As opposed to others, I might feel that more face-to-face time is necessary. What matters most is that you’re able to extract as much relevant information as possible, and at the beginning of the process.
Preliminary information to ask:
- The organisation’s name
- Number of years in business
- Number of employees
- The product or service sold
- The challenges faced
- Who the competitors are
You also need to determine who the decision-maker is and whether you will be dealing directly with that person through the project. Dealing with the decision-maker, or the person or committee who has the final say over the company’s brand identity—isn’t as critical during the information-gathering stage as it is when you present your ideas.
When working with larger businesses, it will be likely that your point of contact is the employee, rather than marketing person. This person will help you to gather all the necessary information to be included in the design brief. Later in the process, he most likely will introduce you to the decision-maker or a committee. But for now, the focus is on information gathering.
Asking tougher questions
The crux of a good design brief lies in the questions you ask. Obtaining this information is not difficult. You just have to ask.
What follows are some suggested questions to use as a starting point. Keep in mind, however, as you form your own list, that the needs of each industry and every company vary.
What does your audience care about?
Asking this question not only helps focus about what appeals to your client’s customers, but it also shows that you have an interest in your client’s customers, and not a simple wish to please personal tastes.
How do people learn about your product, organisation,
Knowing how your client reaches out to its customer base will help you picture how and where the new logo will be used.
This knowledge will affect the type of design you suggest and ultimately create.
If the company promotes itself via leaflets
at trade events, you might remind the decision-maker that his multi colour rainbow effect will cost more to produce than, say, a cool grey monotone design.
Having an understanding of the client’s promotional strategies not only allows you to play a role in helping the company stay on track, but also enables you to deliver a cost-effective design that works on many levels.
Why does your audience need a new brand identity?
Your client is forced to articulate why they need a new identity design. Sometimes businesses are reacting to competitors—a rival may have launched a new visual system, for example—and the business wants to respond by doing the same. In this case, encourage your client to proceed slowly and cautiously, and refrain from responding to a gut reaction. The business may have built enormous equity around a strong and longstanding brand identity, so it’s vital not to disregard it entirely and all at once.
What words do you want people to associate with your business?
You may want to suggest a few adjectives, such as “professional,” “creative,” “traditional,” or “modern,” to help get your client started. The replies can direct you towards specific styles of design.
What logos do you think will appeal to your customers, and why?
By switching the focus away from your client’s taste and onto those of the customer, you keep the process aimed at the good of the business as a whole, and not just the personal preference of one person.
How many people are responsible for use of the identity of the brand?
It’s important for your client to keep a tight reign over these of the work you create. An example, you don’t want a low resolution “saved for web” logo file to be enlarged and used on the cover of a printed sales manual. It defeats
the purpose of hiring a specialist. By asking this question, you invite a followup conversation about the importance of brand guidelines. You might even, at some point, offer to create a logo style guide that illustrates for the company how to use, and not use, the design.
Give your client some space and time
These questions should will be enough to get you started. You likely will have more to add, because every industry has its own specific requirements and expectations.
As you pose your set of questions, make sure that you don’t rush the client to answer them. We all appreciate some
space to consider answers in our own time, and you’ll end up gaining more insight, too. Welcome the opportunity to answer seemingly off-topic questions, because at this stage every detail helps.
But always maintain focus
Don’t allow your client to confuse this as a chance to be a dictator; instead find this as an opportunity to really focus on the job, and on the benefits the outcome will achieve. It’s precisely this level of focus that will provide you with all of the information you need to do your job.
The answers you’re provided should spur some ongoing discussion about logo ideas.
Once you have all of the information, spend some time reviewing it. Ask yourself what are your client’s concerns?
What is it truly selling? And how does the company want to present itself in it’s market? Logos that are pretty may win awards, but they don’t always win marketshare.
The next step of the information-gathering stage involves conducting your own research. Learn as much as you can about the company, its history, its current brand identity and the effect it has had on it’s market perception. You also need to focus on how your client’s competitors have branded themselves, picking up on any weaknesses you see and using them to your advantage in your design.
Skirting the hazards of a redesign
When clients approach designers for brand identity jobs, the projects generally fall into one of two categories. They either represent a newly established company in need of a new identity, or an already established company that desires a redesigned or refined brand identity.
If your project falls into the first category—designing from scratch—the process is much simpler, since there’s no brand equity for the designer and client to consider. But if you’ve been asked to do a redesign, the stakes are much higher, for both you and your client.
Think about it. Which scenario is potentially more damaging: Nike ditching its internationally recognised “swoosh” logo in favour of, say, the outline of a shoe, or a new business named “Pete’s” commissioning a visual identity to help sell its custom t-shirts? Because of Nike’s stature, stock, and visibility in the marketplace, the potential for damage to the company’s identity is much greater.
That said, a redesign project tends to be much more lucrative for the designer than creating a design from scratch. Because established companies need to be protective of the equity they have already built around their identity, a lengthier, more stringent design process is required. Every decision requires more thought, and more discussion.
What are the reasons for rebranding?
While the lure of a high-paying redesign might initially seem like a win-win, it’s critical that you understand from the outset why your client is looking to rebrand. It’s not unusual to find that a company hopes the buzz associated with the new identity will increase its sales in the short term. But rebranding simply for the sake of it or to follow the latest trends can result in disaster. It’s up to you to talk with your clients about the specific reasons for their projects, and advise them about which course of action makes the most sense. Without this type of guidance, market leaders can end up throwing millions away, and your reputation with it.
Let’s take a look at an instance in which designing a new brand identity to replace a well-established one had unintended and punishing consequences.
Don’t squeeze too hard
In 2009, PepsiCo attempted to stimulate sales of its premium fruit juice brand Tropicana by hiring the Arnell Group to redesign its packaging. PepsiCo and the Arnell Group thought it would be a good idea to give Tropicana’s brand identity some new energy, and make it more relevant to the times, said Peter Arnell, founder and CEO of the Arnell Group.
The age-old question of, “How much should I charge my clients for identity design?” is one that every designer struggles with at some point. So if you don’t know what your skills are worth, rest assured you’re not alone. I still wonder whether I’m doing myself justice with the rates I’ve set, and I’ve been in charge of my business for what seems like a very long time.
You cannot accurately price a design project without first understanding the needs of your client. Designers who advertise a list of predetermined prices for x amount of concepts with x rounds of revisions are attempting to commoditise a profession that by definition cannot be commoditised.
Every client is different, so every design project will be, too.
It makes no sense to pigeonhole your clients into a specific price bracket. What works for one will not work for another, and your time—and profits—take a big hit when you limit yourself to a set range and attract clients on the basis of price alone.
The design pricing formula
Pricing design is far from an exact science, and even when you think you’ve covered every possible factor for determining your costs, another one will crop up and force you to recalculate. But it’s still important to consider what affects the amount you quote, and how you can ensure you actually make a profit.
Pricing generally varies depending on a number of factors:
Your level of expertise
- Project specification
- Expected turnaround time
- Additional service and support
- Level of demand
Let’s take a closer look.
Your level of expertise
Only you can determine how much your skills are worth, and this value is the result of your experience in dealing with clients. I frequently ask myself if I’m charging too much or charging
too little, and I reckon every other designer does too. But the main goal is to make sure you’re adequately compensated for your level of experience and education; your reputation; the overhead you incur for office space, equipment, electricity and heating, health care, and living costs; and the expenses you will incur as a result of working through the design project with your client (travel costs, your time, and so on). Clearly these elements will differ from person to person.
Let’s say you’re working with two clients at the same time.
One is a local shoe store owner who is just launching his first business, and the other is a 500-person-strong multinational company that has been in business for 50 years and needs a rebrand.
You won’t need to research the shoe store’s company history. Nor will you need to draft an identity style guide, since most likely just the owner will be dealing with the application of your design. And you won’t be booking international flights for brand meetings. So the shoe store project will obviously cost you and your client less than the multinational company project.
As much as I’d love to give you specific figures, only you can determine how much less.
Expected turnaround time
If a client is under pressure to have a job completed within a tight time frame, you should consider applying a “rush job” markup to the project. Accepting the request means that you, too, will be under increased pressure to get the job done,
and might result in a rescheduling of your existing projects. I recommend a markup of 20 percent to 50 percent, depending on the urgency of the deadline.
From pencil to PDF
To be a good designer, you must be curious about life; the strongest ideas are born from the experiences we have and the knowledge we gain from them. The more we see and the more we know, the more ammunition we can stockpile for generating ideas.
I’m frequently asked how to integrate this stockpile into actual logo concepts, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in
this chapter. We’ll look at the two vital steps in this process— mind-mapping and sketching—and then talk about what to include when preparing your presentation PDFs for the client.
Using mind maps helps you consider as many different design directions as possible, and at the stage when they’re most needed. It’s a relatively straightforward process of word association. You write a word that’s central to the design brief, and then branch out from it, writing other words that spring to mind. These additional words could come after some thought, or after researching the central topic. The idea is to form as large a “thought cloud” as possible, giving you a strong tool to refer to when it comes to the next stage—sketching.
Mind-mapping is particularly useful in the design profession because it’s very effective for working through these important steps of the design process:
Collecting your thoughts
Getting into a creative groove
Associating words with images
I’ve been using mind maps for as long as I’ve been studying design. It’s a tried and tested formula, and other designers often ask me to provide more detail on the intricacies of this practice. So let’s take a look at one or two of them.
The fundamental necessity of the sketchpad
A by-product of sub-par design courses is that aspiring designers today see computers as the only truly necessary tool. On the contrary. By removing the computer from the creative process, you gain much more freedom when translating
You learned to draw before you learned how to use a computer. Why? Because it’s easier. It’s less restricting. And it’s more creative. You want a circle here? A stroke there? No problem. Just do it. Translating the same process to a computer requires unnecessary steps that hinder your creative flow.
Black and white before colour
Now let’s look at an example in which only the best ideas were presented, and with great skill and foresight.
160over90, a design agency in Philadelphia, was given the task of rebranding the Woodmere Art Museum, which houses what it calls a “rich, three-centuries-and-counting legacy that includes American art from before we officially became America.”
Like any good agency, designers first worked up a series of sketches before presenting the three strongest logos to Woodmere—the monogram, the signature, and the perspective. The agency’s standard practice is to initially present designs only in black and white, since its designers have found that colour biases a client’s ability to focus on the form and ideas that the logo communicates.
Where Photoshop comes into play
Showing your designs in context—in other words, as they will be seen by others—is key to helping your client visualize how great you can make the company look. It’s comparable to buying a car. The car might show a fresh paint job and have that “new car smell,” but unless you take it for a test drive, you won’t be entirely convinced. That’s why showing your logo designs in context can be what finally cements the deal with your client.
Using Photoshop to add your logo concepts to photos of cars, building signage, billboard space, business card mockups, and so on, you can augment the PDFs of your best ideas for your presentation to the client. The more variety you create, the more consistent the usage becomes, and the more attractive the outcome will appear.
Most clients won’t have time to concern themselves with every step in the design process. They’ll be focused on the end result, so the more tangible your concepts appear, the more the client will be able to visualize the benefits.
As much as we like to think otherwise, books are judged by their covers, so make sure your identity presentations—the PDFs and mockups done in Photoshop—look professional.
Make sure, too, that you save your PDF files with the date in the actual filename, since there might be some back-and-forth with your client. Seeing the date in the filename helps with version control and ensures you and your client are looking at the same document when talking things through on the phone.
The pen is mightier than the mouse
We’ve looked at what happens up to the point of the initial client presentation. You’ve put a lot of hard work into mind-mapping, sketching your ideas, and presenting only the best options to the client.
The PDF is in your client’s hands, and you’re awaiting feedback.
Let’s recap the main points:
Mind-mapping helps you consider as many different design directions as possible.
Even the most simplistic designs are helped by an extensive sketching session.
A pen or pencil offers much more control and creative freedom than a computer mouse, so don’t use a computer until your ideas are in place.
Don’t fret if you think you can’t draw, because what’s important is that you document your ideas so that you can either build upon them or rule them out.
Don’t be tempted to show a client all of your sketches, because there will undoubtedly be directions you don’t want to pursue, and it would be most unfortunate if the client chose one of those directions.
Make sure your PDFs help the client focus on the idea, and not on an easily changed aspect like colour.
As much as we like to think otherwise, books are judged by their covers, so make sure your identity presentations look professional to keep clients on board.
At this stage of the process, you might consider the job nearly complete, but don’t forget you still need to present your ideas to the client.
That’s where we’re headed next.
The art of the conversation
You’ve met with your client and gathered information.
You’ve conducted thorough research, spent hours sketching, and worked on digitised versions of your strongest concepts. Now you’re ready to make that client presentation—a stage of the process that can cause undue pressure and anxiety.
If you’re one of many designers who finds presentations a
bit daunting and unpredictable, one of the ways that you can alleviate the pressure is to try and look at client presentations from a different angle. Delivering your ideas shouldn’t foster the worry associated with a “big reveal.” At the same time, this stage of the process is about way more than simply showing a few pictures and asking, “So, what do you reckon?”
Presentations are really nothing more than a conversation with your client. If you’ve fostered that conversation throughout
the design process—by listening to your client and responding thoughtfully, by clearly articulating how the process works, and by maintaining the dialogue with the decision-makers in the organisation—then the presentation itself is just a continuation of that ongoing conversation.
But presentations are also about the art of delicate negotiation, just as much as they are about the designs you’ve generated. You need to be clear and concise with your explanations. You need to know how to persuade your client that your design (or one of them) is the best possible visual representation for his company. You must also know how to edit your thoughts so that everything you say has a valid reason for being said.
Deal with the decision-maker
It is very important it is to make sure you deal with the decision-maker during at least some phases of a project. I’ll be referring to the decision-maker as the “committee,” since the clients you want to attract will probably have more than one person involved in choosing a visual identity.
Working directly with the committee for the duration of the project isn’t always possible—most likely you will have been working with a single point of contact (perhaps a brand manager as opposed to a CEO or board of directors) at least some of the time up until this point. But when it comes time to deliver your design ideas, dealing with the committee is critical. The last thing you want is for your carefully crafted explanations to devolve into a game of “phone tag,” in which rationales are conveyed and usually quickly distorted through a mediator.
Uh oh, you say, not the notorious “design by committee”!
I know, I know, some of the worst work in the world has resulted from committee reviews. If one individual opts for a certain element of one design, while others like different details of other designs, it’s easy to end up with a completely different design from the ones you worked so hard to produce.
However, if you are in control of the committee review process, you can use the strengths of each participant to iron out any kinks in your strongest concepts, and ultimately produce an iconic identity design that both you and the committee as a whole are delighted by.
Ensuring you get to present your ideas to the committee rather than to your point of contact doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process—a series of steps or rules you must adhere to from the very beginning of the project to make sure that when the time comes, you get to present your ideas directly to the people who will be making decisions about them.
Conspire to help
An introduction to any client usually begins with a single point of contact. You could be dealing with a nonprofit organisation, in which the committee is often a board. In this case, your contact might be an employee. Or maybe your client is an architectural studio, with the committee comprising the partners in the firm. Your contact might be an office manager or marketing assistant who is not a partner or even an architect.
According to Enns, this contact will most likely be justas frustrated as you are about the potential pitfalls of committee-based decision-making. In these cases, empathy is a powerful marketing tool.
By placing yourself in your contact’s shoes, you will likely see that presenting the design ideas to the committee as a whole is at the top of her priority list, too, and that any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
From the beginning, you should make it very clear you’re there to help, and that you’re well-versed in helping people like your contact achieve approval from the committee. Together, the two of you can conspire to ultimately win the confidence of the committee.
The first rule—conspire to help—is also part of the second rule: avoid intermediation at all costs at presentation time.
Think about it. You may have been hired as an expert, but if your designs are presented by your contact—a subordinate of the committee—they could be perceived with lesser value. And what if there are objections to your design decisions? How effectively can these be addressed by your contact?
You also have no idea what your contact’s relationship might be with the committee or whether any personal issues exist that could interfere with the committee’s acceptance of your ideas. “Office politics” might exist within the committee itself that interfere with committee members’ acceptance of your designs—issues that your contact is powerless to subdue.
When you think about it, having someone else explain your design decisions places an unnecessary barrier between you and the decision-maker. You need to remove anything that can hinder the process at this very delicate stage.
But sometimes this is easier said than done. One identity
design project I worked on early in my career was particularly challenging in this respect. My client was located in Greece, and my point of contact was one of two partners, with both partners having an equal say over the final design decision.
The issue was that while my point of contact spoke fluent English, the other partner did not. I knew this meant the explanation for my design decisions held the potential to be lost in translation, with my point of contact acting as mediator, but I wasn’t sure how to work around it. I ended up presenting to my point of contact, and at a later time, which in some instances was a few days later, he presented to his partner. Not only was the translation a potential hindrance, but the delay between presentations led to vital reasoning being ommitted or forgotten.
At the time, I wasn’t aware how damaging this could be to the design outcome. As it turned out, my client rejected all four of my initial concepts in favour of a much more generic solution that the partners had created between them. Neither partner had any design experience, and as much as I tried to persuade them against their choice, it was too late. I had already lost control of the process.
Even when all the decision-makers speak your language, getting your point of contact to agree that you are the only
one who can present your ideas to the committee can sometimes be a challenge. That’s where Rule #1 comes into play. You’ve already positioned yourself as someone who’s there to help—someone who can aid in the task of gaining committee approval. To further your cause, you might also offer to deliver a dry run of your presentation to your contact before the committee gets a chance to see it, so that your contact is more comfortable about your intentions.