Strategy

How Patience and Clarity Lead to Better Project Results

Getting clear about your brand before calling in help.

James Carter / April 21, 2016

Planning your next design project can be difficult. You have an excellent idea, a budget, and a timeframe to get it done. But the road to success can still be unclear. And with no set price for design costs, every agency has a different way of estimating projects. This presents a challenge when you’re in search of an agency-for-hire.

This is usually where our client conversations begin. At Honor Roll, we help clients uncover the details of their project; then we map out a plan to achieve their goals. Making our onboarding process as collaborative and as transparent as possible is the reason behind this. And we're always refining it.

Improving agency transparency

Unfortunately, many agencies choose not to disclose their processes. We view this as a missed opportunity for clients and a massive vulnerability for creative agencies.

When you hire an agency, you aren't just hiring them for their design skills. You're hiring them for the way they think and solve problems. Their outside perspective is invaluable. A good agency will change the way your business thinks and operates. That's a good thing. That means their process works.

But a good process should go both ways. In the introductory meeting, a potential client is determining whether or not they want to work with us. And we're deciding if we're the right fit for them. This is tough to do when the bulk of an agency's business development process happens behind closed doors. Transparency needs to be at the heart of the relationship.

Our process has improved over time, and we're proud to say it's something we've worked hard on. Early in our journey, there were times where we felt we didn't dig deep enough into the client's problem. Maybe we could have asked more questions or asked the client to expand further. Maybe we could have worked on a smaller project first to understand the business better.

What we've come to learn is that improper planning results in estimates that miss the mark. And that getting the people right is the biggest ingredient to a project's success.

Fortunately, we've gotten better, and now we're documenting it. And we aren't the only ones. Agencies realize that client-designer relationships demand transparency and are creating tools to fix it.

And so today, we want to give you a peek behind our process.

Looking for project clarity within potential clients

When working with clients, one of the first things we ask is why they’ve come to us. Reasons usually fall into one of two camps:

1.They need to design something new.

2. They need to redesign something existing.

Pretty straightforward.

From there, the specifics of the project take shape. Reasons for hiring us can be anything from a loss of revenue to a founder having ill feelings about their brand.

The first example is fine. Designing and redesigning your brand because something in the business is hurting is important. It's the focus of our work.

The other is a little tricky. Founders have an intimate knowledge of their business. They can usually tell when something is or isn't working. But be we must warn you, don't hire an agency if your reason for doing so is more of a personal decision than a business one.

This actually happens quite often.

Executives get tired of seeing the same marketing material for months and sometimes years on end. Assuming their customers feel the same way, they'll opt for a change. They don't have a solid understanding of their brand's equity, and so they play around with their branding, assuming people won’t mind if they change. The problem is people do, they always do. And thanks to the power of the internet and social media, they now have places to share their contempt.

Brand fatigue is a real thing and can get to the best of us. It's natural. People just get tired of looking at the same thing all the time. But for smaller businesses, it’s tougher. Brand fatigue has a habit of popping up as soon as your business starts gaining traction. It's one of the worst time in the world to change.

Creating a great brand requires having patience and maintaining consistency

Having patience builds brand equity. Brand equity is your name; it's the reason people go to you. It's your reputation that’s built over time. Having a reputation based on a superior product gives your brand value. And value comes at a premium price.

Being consistent builds brand recognition. This kind of attention happens when your business becomes linked to who you are or what you do. When someone says your name or comes across a touchpoint of your business, they think of you. When someone sees certain colors or hear certain jingles, they're reminded of you. Your brand becomes tied to the messages, values, and experiences you establish. That can’t happen if you make drastic changes as soon as potential customers start to recognize you.

Play the long game, have patience and build consistency. Remember, your brand isn’t about your sensibilities. It’s all about the experience of the customer.

Having an agency help you with your brand is smart. Just make sure you think carefully about your reasons for change. Are they linked to a business decision? Will the revamp solve the problem? Can you guarantee this will move the needle?

If you aren't sure, consult with an agency. The great ones will work with you to determine if you have a viable issue or if it’s all in your head. But always go with your gut, only you know what’s best for your business, just hold off on any drastic changes until you're completely certain. Design work is expensive and rightfully so. But ill-advised design work costs even more.

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CREDIT: "Revealing The Naked Truth Behind the Agency-Client Relationship." Fast Company Co. Create. Fast Company & Inc © 2016 Mansueto Ventures, LLC, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. Monteiro, Mike. You're My Favorite Client. New York: Book Apart, 2014. Print. MailOnline, Luke Augustus for. "Premier League Logo Virals: Twitter Reacts to New Design Ahead of next Season's Launch." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 17 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. Wilson, Mark. "Uber's Head Of Design Steps Down." Fast Company Co. Design. Fast Company & Inc © 2016 Mansueto Ventures, LLC, 8 Feb. 16. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. Nisen, Max. "This Logo Change Caused Tropicana Sales To Plunge." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 03 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.