Join Bonnie Siegler for an in-depth discussion in this video Know your own taste, part of Working with Creatives.
- Graphic design, like any art form, is subjective. You may be drawn to a painting or a sculpture and have absolutely no idea why. Similarly, you may be drawn to a certain design solution or against a certain solution and have no idea why, just a feeling. I think it's worth understanding your aesthetic leanings before you meet with your designers. In many business, people have never considered their own completely subjective visual happiness quotient.
As you go about your day, take snapshots with your phone of images or products or ads that please you, that you are inexplicably drawn to. You can also pull pages from magazines. And I know it's difficult, but it's important to do this without thinking too hard about why and what you're doing. When you've collected 10 or 20 images, analyze them. Lay them all out and see what you can learn about yourself from what you are looking at.
No one else ever has to see these images. They are not meant for you to give to a designer as inspiration. They're simply meant to make you more aware of what you like and why you like it. You may choose to reveal some of this when responding to a presentation, or you may tell the designers upfront about your own taste, or it may never come up at all. When it comes time to review someone's creative presentation, just knowing your own bias will be very helpful to all involved, especially you.
The better you understand your taste, the more you'll be able to engage in a useful and necessary dialogue throughout the creative process. You will of course ultimately be judging the work based on how well it solves the problem, rather than how it tickles your aesthetic leanings. But fully understanding your own taste will make the process more transparent, more honest, and less purely subjective. Another exercise you can do, again, before you hire a designer, is to switch to your professional role as the brand custodian.
Look for what you feel are successful representations of a brand, not your personal taste, but a good marriage between brand and portrayal. Not necessarily in your field even. Just look for brands that have visuals and messaging that work cohesively to make the audience engagement stronger. Finally, study your competition. What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong? What makes you kind of jealous? Think about how you would respond if those directions were presented to you.
Throughout, keep in mind you are in no way looking for potential solutions. You're just doing some reconnaissance work, getting in touch with your own aesthetic personality that will make it easier to reach a solution you like and ultimately make you a better client. I can't tell you how many meetings begin with clients telling me they have no idea about any of this design stuff or that they'll know it when they see it, when really they do have opinions, strong opinions. They just never thought about it enough to be able to articulate it clearly.
If you wait for our presentation to be able to tell us something like you hate bright colors only after you see that we based all of our solutions (laughs) on a love of bright colors, we may have just wasted tons of time and effort and money chasing rainbows. Spend a little time educating yourself about yourself and everyone wins. And designers, you can always ask clients to talk to you about their aesthetic leanings. Kind of interview them and try and help yourself get closer to their truth.
- Knowing your own taste and what you're looking for
- Creating a brief
- Knowing your budget
- Best practices for working with designers
- Giving feedback
- Being a fair judge
- What to do when it's not working