Creative Mile Markers, Part 1

As creatives, we always strive to create the best content possible, every graphic, every request, every campaign. They are all something we put our heart into and try to make beautiful, but what does good design look like? More importantly, how do we blend the worlds of appealing aesthetics with a graphic that is successful for hitting our clients’ pain points? There is no single “right” answer, but there are many mile markers on the road to that destination.


Mile Marker #1: What does a client need (even if they don’t know they need it)?


Imagine you have a client with somewhat boring branding, and they request a series of graphics. You think to yourself, “This is my chance! I can finally take this lackluster brand and make it amazing,” so you get to work. Hours go by and you finally complete the project including mock-ups, presentations, social graphics, web ads, and even a landing page for their website. You introduce a new branding color and pull out all of the stops. You send it to the client expecting them to crown you king of branding.


Then it’s rejected. Not just a little rejection either, but a big, fat, this-really-is-not-what-we-were-looking-for rejection. Discouraged, where do you go from here?


As a designer, it is our job to dig and dig until we can produce the best content possible for our clients, even if they have no clue what they want. A key best practice for design is knowing where to dig. Maybe the client didn’t want a new branding color, a new website, and a new logo. Maybe what they really wanted to see was innovative ideas that reworked what they had been using. As you build a relationship with that client, you can bring forward new and exciting ideas piece-by-piece, then maybe they will go with it.


In this scenario, the client was expecting more thought and less design. As designers, we don’t get paid to just make images; we get paid to think about our clients’ needs on a critical level and design around them. If you think deeper, you will create better. How can you think deeper for your clients so that you can create the best art possible for them? Not just for your portfolio or for art that peaks your interests.