I recently read an interesting article on the website of the Design Business Association, entitled; ‘Strategy, practice what you preach’, it was written by Carol Whitworth, the founder of Home.
Principally, it looked at tackling the key factors that enable those concerned with a creative project to achieve far more than the norm.
Firstly, a few assumptions which you may agree with, or not.
Assumption number 1
All design agencies and designers think they are very good at what they do.
Assumption number 2
Many design agencies get results of some kind, even if they are short lived or (often) undervalued.
On the second assumption, initial results should not be confused with the natural euphoria or emotional buoyancy experienced at the end of a project, when creative is revealed for the first time and sent out into the marketplace. But usually it is at this point everyone receives a pat on the back and invoices are paid – everyone is happy.
What designers do is complicated! Sometimes the clients we work with can make providing the solution complex, this might be their operations or structure, internal politics, etc. To be effective and achieve more as a design agency you have to choose to stop and think. Walk away from the Mac, put the pens and layout pads down. This involves using your head, taking a second look at the facts, the detail and even a second assessment of the emotive issues in order to ask yourself and the client the right questions. However, most practitioners as they would define themselves, actually react to a creative brief in a purely creative way – this is a mistake, but under most circumstances they do not realise their error.
In her article, Carol highlights the need to question why you are designing and the importance of always challenging the brief. This is where most designers fall short as they do not understand that these two factors actually have nothing to do with design, they are strategic or rather ethics. A good design agency will be ethical and respond to all briefs in an appropriate manner. This is where most design agencies and designers start to feel pressured or ill at ease; they can’t see beyond their own comfort zone, and I am sad to say they may end up doing it for the money.
Adopting and sticking to this approach can be awkward, but not painful. One thing is for sure, you will always develop a better brief, an improved set of parameters and therefore a much more successful outcome for your client, and in turn for you too.
Mark Robinson - Director