3 ways to help clients appreciate the value of good design

It's a frustrating fact of life that clients don't always appreciate the value of good design. So what can you do when faced with a client who just doesn't get it?

Being able to educate clients on the value of design is a crucial skill. Communication, as always, is key: you need to involve your clients in all stages of the creative process, and make your case early – as these three industry pros explain…

01. Make your case early in the process

"Occasionally we have to 'make the case' for design, perhaps with a less experienced client who views the process as a 'client/supplier' model rather than collaborator," says branding legend Michael Johnson, who founded brand consultancy johnson banks.

"But in order to get a large-scale branding project, we will have made the case for change months – sometimes years – before the design actually starts. In other words, our clients have clearly committed to the process. It's our job to subtly educate, inform and inspire as we go through the process – without coming across like idiots, obviously."

  • johnson banks picked up a whopping three Brand Impact Awards last year. Make sure you enter your best branding to 2015's Brand Impact Awards here.

02. Explain your reasoning

"Branding is no longer something that sits with the marketing department, a brand is something that sits at the heart of a client's business and organisation, and affects everything they do," says Karen Hughes, crative director at True North.

"As well as increasing profits, an effective brand can mean happier employees, engaged audiences, better products and services, greater brand awareness and recognition.

"[To convince a client of this], try to take the subjectivity out of decisions," she continues. "Don't just talk about colours and fonts, talk about the reasons behind your design choices."

"All the time, link these choices back to the original brief and always link the creative back to the core business aims and brand proposition." 

03. Apply logic

Helping clients appreciate and value design makes a designer's life so much easier, agrees Gareth Howat, creative director at hat-trick. Like johnson banks, the London-based multidisciplinary design company also won big at last year's Brand Impact Awards.

"It does help to have a clearly thought-through logic to your work, and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate that," Howat explains. "That way clients are far more likely to appreciate your design strategy."

Enter the 2015 Brand Impact Awards

Enter the 2015 BIAs to join the likes of johnson banks, hat-trick and R/GA – all triple award winners in 2014 – as well as Rose and Coast, who scooped Best of Show awards

Enter the 2015 BIAs to join the likes of johnson banks, hat-trick and R/GA – all triple award winners in 2014 – as well as Rose and Coast, who scooped Best of Show awards

If you've created some outstanding branding in the last 18 months, you're eligible to enter the Brand Impact Awards. Judged by an elite panel of designers and client-side creatives from global brands like Coca-Cola, the Awards celebrate the industry's best branding across more than 20 different market sectors.

Beyond a stunning piece of design work, the judges are looking for consistency of application across various touchpoints – and work will be judged according to the market sector for which it was designed.

The deadline for entries is 5:30pm 18th June. You can find out more about the Brand Impact Awards here, and enter your work today though the Brand Impact Awards website. Good luck!

The full version of this article appeared inside Computer Arts issue 239: Love Print/Love Digital, a special collector's item.

Illustration: Jose Miguel Mendez

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