Why should I sell strategy with branding? I just want to design.
I’ve been a graphic designer since I graduated from college in the late 1970s. I knew since I was a pre-teen what I wanted to do with my life after meeting an art director at a local newspaper. Back then, like today, most of us came from an artist background. Being creative usually led down this road to graphic design.
The design industry pretty much stayed the same over the years until 1984, when desktop publishing was born with the introduction of the Apple Macintosh.
The Mac changed everything
At first the change was great. Gone were the days of doing things by hand with the 350 Pantone marker set, Letraset, film fonts, rubylith, etc. (Many of you won’t even know what I’m talking about, but there was design before the computer.) Creativity took on a new platform and new opportunities came into view. However, there was also a downside—as graphic design moved to the screen from the drawing board, designers took on additional responsibilities that had previously been separate occupations. We became film house and darkroom technicians, typesetters, retouchers, photographers, and print strippers, just to name a few. These new responsibilities added to our work load, but not to our pocketbooks.
Graphic design itself has changed
Fast-forward to today and you see that “design” itself has come under fire. All over the Internet, logos can be had for a few dollars. Even Costco has entered the logo market with ads for $149 logos. Most printing services offer free design services as a loss leader to print. Alas, graphic design has become a commodity. And that commodity is not just for small to medium size enterprises, but international companies have also been known to throw designers under the bus for price. Why? Because they can.
Branding strategy (not logo design) can pull you out of the struggle
One very large asset we as designers seldom recognize and often just give away as a cost of doing business (another commodity attitude) is our keen intuitive sense, knowledge, and ability to be strategic thinkers. Designers can and should up the game by showing our true value to clients. Your brain matter is the perfect source material to develop and grow true brand experiences for your clients.
When guided strategically, branding can deliver fresh healthy dollars to an otherwise shrinking pool of opportunity. Those high value clients you seek are sitting on a host of branding problems and you, as a designer, are absolutely the perfect person to help them through it. The solutions to problems our clients have in the marketplace can only be delivered by individuals with the proper skill set to be genuine branding guides—and that can be you. With the right process in place and by positioning yourself as an expert, you can stand out from the pack and deliver unmatched ROI for your clients across a full range of categories. Going from artist to brand consultant, and by focusing on branding strategy, you can gain the respect you so badly deserve and can command fees with little push-back (something I’m sad to say is not the case anymore with design itself).
When you sell branding strategy with a certified process first, it becomes the catalyst leading to great design later. Both disciplines can and should co-exist and are the answer to the Costcos of the world trying to drive that last nail into the coffins of design shops the world over. The formula is this: strategy first, design (which may or may not include redesigning the logo) second.
Learn how to engage clients with branding strategy first (while adding a lucrative income stream to your business) at our upcoming Brand Academy Workshop, April 29 & 30.