why is this in your inbox? We believe that at some point (if we’re not working on something together already) that you will need creative thinking in the design and development of some marketing materials. We love building long-term relationships and understand that this only happens with repeated success. AXIS visual has been supporting the business community for 15 years and has many valued long-term relationships. If you have any thoughts or questions about how we work or how we might approach an upcoming marketing challenge, give us a call (610-527-0332), drop us a note, send a carrier pigeon, whatever you prefer.
Here the shortlist of what we do:
- Branding / Logo Development
- Corporate Communication
- Publication Design
- Website Design
- Print Design (All Kinds)
- Package Design
- Exhibit Design
- Email Marketing
- Product and Service Literature
- You Name it
Design as Profit
Experience. It means a lot, both in the perfecting of one’s skills and in the understanding of how different people think about the skills you offer. In my 29 years in this industry, I’ve found that most businesses can be divided into two categories (Oh, another “2 categories of whatever” article. I just couldn’t resist), ones that view design, branding and advertising as a cost, and ones that view it as an investment. I can understand where both lines of thinking originate. I look at my utility bill as a cost, I look at my weekly visits to the gas pump as a cost, I look at the rent for our office space as a cost. And if someone is unfamiliar with the potential of a well crafted and well thought out brand or promotional campaign, it isn’t unexpected that they could view creative marketing services too as an obligatory commodity that also falls under the “cost” category. After all, it’s simple computer production of a web site or corporate identity, right? Anyone with a computer and a software program or two can deliver the same end product, can’t they? And once they are developed, all brochures deliver the same result… right? I’ll discuss the reality (or lack of) of this thought process later.
On the other side there are those that see advertising as an opportunity. They understand that every interaction with a client or potential client is not only a chance to make an impression, it is definitely a point where an impression IS made. For good or bad, any time a contact is made with a customer or client, an impression is made. These clients understand that the budget set aside for these services needs to be protected by making sure that the best possible work is obtained. These companies believe that the result of a cohesive business brand pays for itself by separating them from their competition, delivering the correct message in a compelling way.
To return to the utility analogy for a minute, if I were to think about it a little differently, I’d have to say that I would be much less profitable (and probably end up standing on a street corner selling pencils) if I tried operating my business without electricity. I can see it now, sitting in a dark office, no computer, no phones… no business. And if you’re not marketing, if you’re not drawing attention to yourself, if nobody knows what your business offers, it is quite a bit like working in the dark. There was once a time when a business could simply open their doors and business would come in, although we also lit our homes with candles and went to the well for water at the time. But unlike creative marketing, electricity isn’t available at different quality levels. It’s on or it’s off. If one power company supplied sporadic electricity and another gave you a constant supply of the power that keeps all your machines and office tools running, it is easy to see which electricity choice would be more profitable.
A bad or even unmemorable logo, advertisement or virtually any message to your customers is like buying water or electricity that is only available SOME of the time. You have wasted money when you don’t get the complete result from your payment. You are after all, not buying a promotional plan or tactic, you are paying for the result of that plan or tactic. Assuming that all design and marketing firms (and therefore the projects they do) are interchangeable is like going to your local butcher for brain surgery. They both use knives but the post surgery result will be very different with each. All design firms are not created equal. Finding one that fits your business, one that works WITH you, one that delivers the appropriate creativity that fits both your business AND your customers will give you the best return… and therefore, the best profit.
The graphic design process is often described as the creation and delivery of tactics that is used to promote and increase business. Creation… delivery… both talk of an increase, a forward moving contribution, a building or positive offensive activity. This article addresses the “defensive” decisions made before any creative delivery can take place. It’s “What ends up on the cutting room floor and why.”
Once a design firm has the initial input from the client, the creative exploration and movement towards an end result of building effective marketing tactics begins. But one of the less noticed and equally important parts of the procedure is the activity of moving AWAY from ideas that don’t work. The early stages of the creative process are usually the quick and loose “scatter shooting” of ideas. How many different images and styles can be utilized to deliver a desired message? There is then an evaluation and refining process. In this second stage, it’s critical to look at each creative idea with a broader eye, an observation without the myopic view or attachment to any original idea.” Are there negative impressions that will be delivered by this design?” It could be too bold, too delicate, too technical or too financial looking, or evoke any other incorrect messages. There are impressions that we derive from almost any visual component. The goal here is to make sure that they are aligned with the intended message. There are also times when even inappropriate imagery can sneak into an idea without being noticed. A number of years back I was working with a group of designers on a logo. In the early design stages and without any intention, there was one concept that had a subtle impression of a swastika in the logo itself. No one initially saw it. Needless to say, in most cases this is rarely, if ever, a positive message to deliver for a company. It was the process of stepping back and looking at the work with an objective eye that showed this potential mistake.
This same approach of evaluating creative ideas comes into play in the collaborative discussions that frequently take place between design firms and clients. Different ideas get discussed, reactions take place and optimally, an improved marketing tactic is the result. I’ve been in meetings when an idea was proposed. At times, I saw potential problems arise, both with the initial desired message to the customer, and in how it would work as a theme in the future. It just didn’t have the “legs” to carry it into future evolutions of the campaign. It was then my responsibility to explain this as succinctly as possible. Sometimes people can be very attached to an idea without thinking about the repercussions. I have been doing creative work for businesses long enough to understand that someone who doesn’t know the designer well might see them as the cliched, temperamental artist, protecting his or her ideas to the death, especially if the client has been “burned” by a design firm in the past. It is my, or any designer’s responsibility to navigate that potential communication challenge.
There is a person who does investing for me. I have come to describe his value as “protecting me from myself.” It is important to have an open and free dialogue when exploring initial ideas for design and marketing. But within that, I have, at times, added value to my client’s marketing efforts by protecting them from themselves. But in the end, it is this collaborative approach that yields the best marketing solutions.
1) Design for the Markitects web site, a strategic marketing company.
2) Logo for the Philadelphia Direct marketing Association. The logo designed by AXIS was selected from numerous submissions to their logo competition.
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