Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Interviews, part of Branding for Designers.
- I hate meeting with clients. I've been doing this job for three decades and I still get nervous before a meeting. Nevertheless, I need to do it. It's tempting to communicate only by email, but that never works, never. I need to sit in a room with someone, physically, to hear what they are saying, how they say it, and what their body language is saying. We're hard-wired as humans for social interaction and pretty good at understanding each other face to face. Once I'm sitting down with a client, employees, or customers, I can get to the questions.
First, I make sure that he or she understand that the discussion is confidential and I'm not writing down who said what. Nobody wants to be dragged into the CEO's office because I leaked that Jane said, "The marketing department is confused." This is information gathering, not interrogation. I keep my questions open-ended and neutral. "Don't you hate your newsletter design?" is leading and the person you're sitting with probably worked on it.
"What do you think about the newsletter?" is better. Start with what. For example, what are the company's primary values? What are the company's strengths and weaknesses? What message is the company communicating now? What should the company be communicating? And in a perfect world, describe what the company will be in five years. Take notes by hand. Using a digital recorder scares people and they clam up.
Then, move into the who. Who is the company's primary audience and stakeholders? Who should the audience be? Who is the primary competition? Remember, it's your job to gather the information, not disagree or argue. This is the chance for the client to do all the talking. Now it's time for how. How does the company reach the current audience? How does the company define itself to the outside world? How does the company communicate its values to the employees? Each of these questions could be broken into more detailed ones.
But these are the basics. You made need to tailor them for different clients. In some instances, you might need to know more about a product. Will it remain the same? Does the audience like it? And does it work with the company's values? Whether you're an introvert or love working with others, this is the time to put away the fear. I tell myself I can stow it at the door and pick it up when I leave. It's your job to keep the conversation professional but light, comfortable, and friendly.
So, stay away from one bright light bulb, a hard table and chair in a basement. Have a nice lunch somewhere relaxed for your discussion.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books