Designing with the Human Ear
Most companies we have worked with have previous experience with a designer or design firm. Part of our initial discussion with these companies is to ask about their previous experiences, specifically, what they like or dislike about their current solution. We are firm believers that asking questions like these is key to the future client relationship, and after asking the same questions for years, you would naturally assume we have an exhaustive list of dislikes. How many words on how many pages do you think we could fill with this feedback? Tens? Hundreds? Perhaps Thousands? The truth is, about one sentence: "I don't feel like our current design firm listens to us at all."
Graphic Design is a very peculiar field if you really start to think about it. Not only do companies rely on designers to get a message out in a fresh effective way, but designers are also expected to be industry experts in all the varying fields they represent, not to mention understanding how all people groups may react to the project at hand.
So how do great designers properly accomplish goals set by the company they represent? How can they possibly become an expert in a field they have been dabbling in for a short period? By this point in the post, hopefully the answer is obvious.
To properly accomplish goals set by the client at hand, the designer must be willing to listen. By listening, it is not good enough for a designer to interpret what he/she wants out of the discussion, but rather, see the problem or project at hand from the client's viewpoint. On the client side, you have a responsibility as well. Never put your designer in a position to "just be creative." They need limitations and direction; without your expertise, they cannot possibly achieve the goals you have set.
As a designer or even marketer, not listening is the riskiest game you can play. Without a keen ability to listen to the client, all hope for the project is truly lost. Is your designer, or internal marketing department designing with the Human Ear?