Something that took me a lot to understand in my early years as a designer is that the customer is not the enemy. At first glance this seems quit obvious but not really for the Designer: The client is not the enemy.

In one of my first jobs I was assigned a cover for an autoparts catalog. The client wanted an air filter flying away from planet earth.

At first glance this seems quit obvious but not really for the Designer. In one of my first jobs I was assigned a cover for an autoparts catalog. The client wanted an air filter flying away from planet earth.

I really thought it was the most horrible and depressing thing in the world and an offense to graphic design.

I made several proposals disobeying the instructions of my client trying to educate him. I only made one proposal following their instructions, unconsciously made a bad design because I didn’t like the concept (in psicology is called Acting out).

The result was a very upset customer, I had to repeat all the proposals but I was trying still to educate the customer. Finally the client picked one of the proposals, when he finally printed the catalog he chose the cover of another designer. I felt very offended, attacked my ego.

I did not learn the lesson on that occasion, it took me some more upset customers until I began to ask what was happening to me, why my customers didn’t liked my work.

I asked my best friend who is a sales expert if my designs were so bad. Her answer surprised me at first:

You treat customers like enemies

After thinking a moment I realized she was absolutely right, rather than hear clearly what the customer wanted, understand the message he wanted to convey, I mocked and ridiculed his ideas. How did they pretended that I design such a nonsense, I felt offended by the customer, I felt misunderstood as a designer.

I took the client as my enemy without understanding that in fact all they want is an ally:

  • The client knows their product better than us
  • The client knows his market
  • The client knows the message that wants to communicate

The designers then must be interpreters of these concepts and graphically communicate the message of our clients. To accomplish this we must have a clear communication with our clients and understand perfectly their needs.

The designer then must lose his ego and understand that the client is not a design expert, is an expert in his product and we have the responsibility for translating it in an effective and forceful message.

Remember the design process?

http://www.designerfreelance.net/the-design-process/

The idea is clear: without a reason or a purpose, there is no design

If the shape created meets the first cause, if it is expressed by means of appropriate materials, if they are well treated and developed and eventually the whole is done with economy and elegance, we can say that is a design and a good one
In this case the first cause is the need to communicate a message from our customer.

Over time I developed some techniques that help me in the process of communication with the customer. In the next post we will talk about this process.

The client is not the enemy

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Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero

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