Do Clients Want Design Work Soft, Gooey, Fast?

Building Client Relationships, graphic design

On NPR a few nights ago, someone was discussing the downside of American diets — that we too often head for foods that are soft, gooey and fast. And, as we all know, those foods don’t usually rank high on the nutritional scale.

It occurred to me that many less-than-imaginative clients have similar predilections when it comes to creative work. They want it soft. No risks. No boat-rocking. No possibility of even slightly offending anyone.
 
They want it gooey. Sweet. Innocuous. Self-serving. Overflowing with every sugary little morsel about the product and themselves.
 
They want it fast. Overnight. Right now. ‘Hey, you’re the creative one — can’t you come up with an idea while we’re sitting here?’
 
When you have a client who’s craving creative junk food, try these three approaches to change their diet —  it’s not good for them and it’s sure not healthy for your creativity.
 
1. Switch from soft to spice. Emphasize that bold, fresh ideas by definition involve risks. That end users have to let go of existing ideas in order to pick up new concepts. Make it clear you’re sensitive to seriously offending anyone, but that strong, effective creativity involves shaking up existing thoughts.   
 


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2. Go from gooey to whole-grain. Point out that customers see right through cuddly words and contrived visuals. Show a few flowery, back-patting pieces from other companies. Ask the clients if they buy-in to what they’re seeing. (And if they give an emphatic yes, maybe it’s time to go client-searching or job-hunting.)  
 
3. Convert them from fast food to home-cooking. Take them to your workspace and walk through the creative process. Demonstrate the steps and time it takes to generate and develop good ideas. Use a few of your success stories as forums for detailing what it took to get from initial problem to solid solution.  

5 thoughts on “Do Clients Want Design Work Soft, Gooey, Fast?

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