Why to Change the Conversation from Design to Strategy (if you want the big projects)
If you’ve had your design firm for awhile, you’ve gotten used to selling design. It’s your comfort zone. You love design and understand how powerful it is. You know design can really help your clients.
But you also know that selling design doesn’t differentiate you from all the other designers out there who are also selling design, especially when what you really want are the big branding projects. And you know that your high-level clients are looking for proposals with more depth. To them, design alone sometimes just doesn’t cut it. Like it or not, many clients see design as decoration.
What can you do to stand out from the crowd and show prospects that you really can help them solve their marketing challenges?
You can change the conversation from design to brand strategy
If you are actually offering branding, and you’re digging deep with meaning and messaging instead of just giving them a new logo or delivering the design flavor of the month, then you need to find a way to talk about this with clients and prospects. And you need to do it in their language, so they’ll understand and want to know more.
Clients want to know what you know, and how you can really help them with their business challenges. The clients you want are not looking for order takers when it comes to branding. The best clients really don’t want to tell you what to do—they want to hire experts to tell them how to brand their businesses successfully. You have to take the lead if you want to gain their trust. And you don’t want to go about it like a showy account exec does with smoke and mirrors, either—you want to gain their trust authentically. You do this by talking about brand strategy instead of design, because strategy is more comfortable to them, and it shows the true value of branding. The best clients value and understand strategy.
Clients want you to lead
The clients that you want, want you to lead. They are getting pitches from designers who say, “Tell us what you need and we’ll do it.” Often clients don’t know what they need, and even if they think they do, (more…)
What Makes Branding Work?
I love poking around and trying to understand not only how the brain works, but also how we, as designers, can take advantage of how it works for our clients. And branding is one of those things — it takes advantage of the way our brains work naturally, and that also means the brains of your clients, and your client’s customers.
Here’s what happens: The brain really wants to be efficient when it comes up against new information. It makes sense of information by grouping and forming associations, and branding really helps the brain with this grouping and sorting.
Your eyes vs. your brain
What you see here looks like a random set of elements. Your eyes see them in a certain way, just kind of out there, mixed up, all over the place:
However, while your eyes see things in one way, your brain is working hard, trying to do this: (more…)
How To Leave Same-Old, Same-Old Design Firms Behind
What does every graphic design firm have in common? Well, just about everything.
If you happen to bundle a group of graphic design firm websites together and analyze them, you’ll quickly see they all appear very much alike. It’s as though they’re all singing from the same song sheet. They’re all using the latest web dynamics, all have a portfolio section, and all tout that they do branding. Not much differentiation here.
Designers see branding as a visual solution
Let’s hit that branding link. What you undoubtedly find is they all will show their belief that branding is a visual solution. We know this to be the case, because it’s apparent most design firms see branding as a logo. Re-branding to most design firms is changing the logo and marketing materials. Right? The conversation is the same with everyone.
Strategy is more valuable to your clients
If you really want to stand out among your peers, you may want to consider being a strategic design firm. Positioning yourself as a strategic thinker places a great deal more value on your work, in the eyes of your clients. Decisions you make regarding branding are based on using strategy to define your clients’ differentiation in their markets (with design to follow, of course). Being a strategic thinker opens up opportunities with higher value clients who need leverage to compete. (more…)
Boy, Do We Know HOW (magazine)
We don’t like to brag, but we thought it important that you benefit from our relationship with HOW Magazine. Because maybe you didn’t know that for the past several years, we’ve collaborated with them to deliver high-value content on the topic of strategic branding.
It all started a few years ago with a few branding webinars for HOW, and neither we nor HOW knew how they would go over. Well, they did go over, and big time—and their listener base asked for more, which led to a speaking gig at HOW Design Live in Boston. We were booked into the big room where Marcia and I addressed almost 900 design professionals. (Originally our talk was to be in one of the smaller break-out rooms, but the registration kept growing and growing until we were moved to center stage!) From there we rolled out content HOW could share with their subscribers and customers.
You can find these products of ours through HOW:
At HOW’s MyDesignShop:
• How to Talk About Branding webinar $39.99
• How to Make $20k to $50k on Your Next Branding Project webinar $39.99
• Common Mistakes Designers Make with Branding talk from HOW Design Live $34.99
• Common Mistakes Designers Make with Branding webinar $39.99
• How to Position Yourself as a Branding Expert webinar $39.99
• Selling Without Selling webinar $39.99
You’ll see this course marketed frequently (more…)
The Value of Positioning: Defining Your Client’s Competitive Edge
Why do you need to think about positioning your client’s company as a part of branding? We’re designers, so why not just jump right to design?
If you’re like most designers, you don’t just want to “decorate,” you also want to help your clients be successful. And while you know the immense communication value of design, you also know that design alone can’t tell the entire story when helping your clients with their business objectives. Positioning gives the organization a competitive edge. It gives value to their brand and informs the design, so the design can become even more powerful as it reinforces and supports the positioning. Positioning the organization in the minds of your client’s customers, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, is one of the most valuable things you can do for your client—and it’s the strategic element your client is the happiest to pay for.
What’s the business challenge?
It all starts with knowing your client’s main challenge. Are their sales down? Is employee morale flagging? Are they entering a new, unfamiliar market? Shoring up the brand can help all of these situations, and it all hinges on positioning, or differentiating your client’s company in the market.
The consumer has too many choices
There are just too many choices for consumers today. Why pick one company over another? What makes them different? Put another way, why should your client’s customers choose their company or product over their competition, and how can you help with that? Being able to have these conversations with your clients and prospects, and showing how your creativity, knowledge, and intuition can powerfully position them with strategy and design, can mean the difference between (more…)