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Divyam Kaushik
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After completing my MBA, I joined an advertising agency where I fell in love with the whole concept of designing communication. For two months, I used to sit next to my graphic designer friends and play around with colors, fonts, and copy; it was so much fun. After a few months, I noticed a pattern; the creative team created five options for one poster and multiple feedback every day. It wasn’t fun anymore.

Being client-facing, I felt responsible for my friends in the creative team, creating multiple options, and spending drunken nights in the office (Working!). It came to the point that I learned how to make the ‘logo bigger’ myself, export PDF, and send it to the client myself. (Kidding!)

I thought it’s not me; it’s the client. They are indecisive and cribbed about them with the creative team to gain sympathy and get the work done. But I knew I was in trouble when it happened to us again.

That’s when I decided to seek help and gathered my creative team to brainstorm ways to increase efficiency and get the design right in the first go. We discovered the problem wasn’t that the client was indecisive, but we didn’t know the client and the business much.

Why was that happening? Every meeting with the client, we tried to please the client by filling the awkward silences with something while we should have heard the client instead. We were not asking the right questions to solve the business problem with the design.

When you start talking, you have taken away your client’s chance to think about what you have said. You stop them from digesting the design you carefully created, and you start sounding like that annoying pushy salesperson that no one likes. Instead, you can get inside your client’s head, so you know what they really want — and let them do the talking.

You can become a trusted advisor in the business process, and you use your client’s own words to give them what they want.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire

Listing down the questions that we decided to ask every client before getting onto a design phase, use these questions for your next campaign brief or freelance project to save time and become that trusted advisor to your clients.

1. What are your long-term and short-term business goals?

This question does two things. First, it gives you a roadmap to follow to help you provide for your customer’s immediate needs. When you can help make your customer’s short-term goals a reality, you become a partner in their success. Second, beginning to understand their long-term goals establishes you as a partner for the long haul. You stop being just a person trying to achieve a one-time sale, and you build a relationship that helps you to become a trusted confidant.


2. What’s your single most significant challenge/ problem when it comes to your product/ service?

People don’t buy products/ designs; they buy a solution to their problem. Asking these questions pushes your client’s to think and tell you exactly where the problem is.


3. How did you discover that this is the biggest challenge?

Humans tend to assume things, this question will help you identify the hypothesis and finding the root cause.


4. Major challenges that you have faced in the last 6 months or a year?

This is an extension of the previous questions and brings recency to the conversation. Every client wants to first address the immediate problem, and once the solution works, they will look for a long term relation with you.


5. What have we done already to solve this challenge?

This will help you understand all the ways the client has tried solving the issue and if you think it was the right approach, dig down deeper into understanding the execution. You will know which ideas to work on and which ones to discard right-away.


6. How do you define success? What are the KPIs?

This will help you track success, and if you are in digital, this will help you course-correct if the design needs any iteration.


7. What are the no go areas?

I remember working for a client that hated typography and loved quirky wordplay.

The Key to Your Success

The best way to know your client is to ask! For that matter, anyone. If you do it right, you’ll identify countless options to solve problems, become an asset, and help your clients succeed.

I still won’t guarantee that client won’t ask you to make the logo bigger.

And finally, don’t ask them how much budget do they have. If you have a great design/idea, they will be open to extending the budget. Trust me when I say this, I have been on both sides of the tables.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 52

 

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Sushant Ajnikar, who draws inspiration from the vivid display of India’s art and colours, a designer in his office, but a parent to homeless little pups on the road, a caring husband to a worried wife, and a rider on the road enjoying the journey, the beauty that is riding. He rides to connect to the reality and more to meet his four-legged friends on the road, who are forgotten and ignored. Hop on to enjoy the ride further!

The design is an amalgamation of myriad things born out of the million thoughts crammed in our gray cells, where inspiration takes form in different shapes and colours. You feed your brain with all kinds of stimuli and when you sit down to churn out something, you never know what may actually trigger a thought. Riding gives me every stimulus I may ever need and hones my creativity. And that’s just one thing.

1. Riding Teaches To Be Disciplined

Both on and off the road. Discipline doesn’t curb creativity but it makes sure that what you intend to do, actually sees fruition. Learn to have discipline in doing my research. Discipline in following a plan and going about it or atleast try to.


2. To Be Brave

Be brave enough to ditch routine, and take on a new route. Try something new. Learn something different.



3. To Be Flexible

I cannot ride with the assumption that my life’s going to be sorted with all the facilities I want. I have to be flexible enough to adjust to any kind of adversity or scenario or surprises. Bingo for design (a designer). Flexibility is creativity’s best friend and a creative person should always be ready to adapt.


4. To Get Hands Dirty and Be Humble

I cannot do 16,000 km without getting some elbow grease, without sitting in the mud on a hot summer’s day, drinking water from a tap. Similarly, I will never succeed as a designer if I don’t do the groundwork. I need to start at the bottom, to get to the very top. No shortcuts here.

5. To Accept Fears

I am human and being scared of the unknown is only natural. But I need to accept it so that I can resolve it. In design, if something is challenging enough to scare me, I should be able to address it, instead of sitting on it, pretending to be cool and making unnecessary mistakes, as no one likes a smartass who knows nothing.


6. Makes You A Keen Observer

I observe everything. I now notice things that I wouldn’t have earlier and there is such joy in observing. The more I observe, the better I am able to sketch my memories out, the more I am able to adapt them to the design, if at all.



7. Teaches To Embrace Failure

When you are on the road, you may have these goals that you set out to achieve. However, you may not see its fulfillment, and the reasons cannot be controlled. And that’s completely okay. The best part of failure is that you get a second chance to do it all over again. You know what to expect then, what to do or not do. The same applies to design rejection and failure is as much a part of this industry as glory is. I need to be able to accept, learn and move on. You almost always end up doing better.


8. Riding Teaches To Keep it Simple

Don’t complicate stuff. Ask any self-respecting designer what they think is the best design and simple will almost always being one of the words that will crop up. Simple isn’t boring, simple can be adventurous, simple can be fancy, simple can be exciting, simple can be anything, it’s just how simply you are able to convey or do what you want to do

Published in Issue 33

We all face it! But everyone has their own unique way to come out of it, in this issue we try to explore different ideas of handling the ‘Creative Burnout’. The most common of all was #travelling, through everyone do it in their own unique style. Like Luke Ritchie from South Africa finds the nature and mountains as the best source of inspiration while Sushant Ajnikar says riding his bike and meeting four-legged loyal friends, dogs, on the way is the best way to learn. So, pack your bags and don’t forget to subscribe your copy before you leave!

 

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CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 52