**This post is part of the series, “Identifying The Brand” … This is a several-week long series, so be sure to subscribe to the blog to keep up with the latest posts!**
You know what makes me cry little graphic design tears?
Pre-made logos & template designs!!
When I have potential clients email me about a brand refresh, I feel a little more for the ones who have purchased a ‘your name here’ kind of brand identity for their business. Obviously there are many reasons why you’d do this: money, time, not knowing how awesome a custom brand identity can be, etc., and I never blame that person for choosing that route. However, once I wipe my tears, I smile big … really big! Because not only are they excited about their business, but they’re now giving themselves/their brand the attention it deserves!
Most of the time, my new clients book without chatting on the phone or in person. We just email back & forth, I send my branding guide, we talk about their needs, and develop a custom package that’s tailored to them. Once their project start day arrives, it’s all about getting to know them on a personal level. These meetings are so crucial to my process, which is why I have a hard time with the template concept. There’s no way it truly reflects you & your brand … there’s no way you can truly own something that your heart is not invested in.
Whether you’re working with my studio or a different one, I think this initial meeting is a MUST. During this meeting, it’s important that you are asked strategic questions about your brand. Some of my clients are very involved in every step of their clients experience, while some are more relaxed and love to be involved when needed. I wouldn’t advise the former client the same way I’d advise the latter, and being able to distinguish these things is really important. From the perspective of the designer, it also gives you a chance to catch any red flags before you dive head-first into the project. Most of the time, my clients have experience with other designers (or template services), and they’re disappointed by parts of it (lack of communication, timing, lack of personalization, it just isn’t them, the person didn’t listen, etc.), and I can make note of what’s really important to my client. Maybe they mention they have a really hard time deciding things … then I know that my notes need to be a little more thorough, and they might need a bit more guidance about why each design was made for them, and why I think one is better than they other.
Overall, this meeting is meant to ask questions in a way that exercises my client’s creative brain as well as their business brain. To spark ideas they haven’t thought of. To remind them of the big ‘must do’ items for the project, to give a strategy … Mostly, it lets me get to know them, their preferences, their dislikes, and their expectations. It’s a way to figure out:
- Their story!! Why are they passionate about this career?
- Who is their ideal client?
- What are they doing now to ensure they’re attracting their ideal clients (and how are they keeping them happy)?
- Their design preferences … After all, it’s the tangible part that they’ll leave with.
- Why they get referrals? What do their clients say about them?
- What are their big business goals, and do these goals mesh with their personal goals?
From this meeting, I take several notes, which spark questions (conversation!!) and tips for them … About a week after the meeting, I send my first round of strategy points … just a little “hey, not sure if you’re already doing these things, but I really think YOUR clients would love to see this as part of their experience” note.
I feel like sharing these notes & conversing back and forth really helps me invest myself into their project. I become their advocate, and it drives the rest of the project. When my clients inspire me, the very last thing they’ll receive is a template kind of experience. It’ll be 100% custom, which they totally deserve!!
Are you a business owner? Fellow designer? Awesome!! I’d love to hear what you think about designers & clients connecting on a personal level. If you have experience with the template side of things, I’d love to hear about it! What do you wish you would have explored more about yourself before branding your business? And, if you have experience working with a designer that you loved, tell me about it! Why are you glad you invested in a personal experience?