Graphic design often involves activities and results whose effectiveness can’t be easily quantified and measured. Yet, in today’s economic climate every organization must look for ways to economize. We are often asked to explain the ways in which we provide more value in addressing our clients’ problems and opportunities. So let us share a few thoughts about our value-oriented touchstones, and what they mean.
Value-oriented design is not about style or fashion, as important as they are. First and foremost, it is about effectively communicating one or more of a client’s strategic messages, which it is our business to craft. How much more value do well-thought-out and easily-communicated visual messages have? Frankly, we can’t quantify the answer. But we do know that the difference between the success or failure of a client’s message is often in the details and execution of its design.
We live in a world that is over-communicated, and where media are excessively cluttered. Design must not only be strategically focused and visually arresting to combat this reality, but also perfectly suited to the media that will carry it. We develop everything with these three points in mind. There’s also another aspect to producing successful materials: how easily we work together with our clients. Thorough information-gathering procedures minimize their time, and help us to get things right the first time.
Value-oriented design is about image building as well. Over time, organizations develop personalities, just as individuals do. Positive personalities, evident in well-known images and brands, are often among the most valuable properties any organization possesses. In today’s world, not to reinforce positive ones, or to strengthen weak ones, is to leave a positioning vacuum soon filled by competitors. Constant attentiveness to image and brand building is one of the ways smaller organizations get bigger, and bigger organizations stay on top.
Creating and maintaining strong, visual identities and brands is our focus. Our more than 100 combined years of experience tells us that it is far too important today to trust to chance, or a low bidder.
The design business is constantly changing. The tools we use — computers and software — are ever more powerful. The media we employ— electronic and print — are forever evolving. This makes our expertise increasingly more relevant and provides still another aspect of our value-oriented design process: the ability to adapt recent technologies and media changes to our clients’ specific needs. This, not to mention the ability to look over the horizon and stay ahead of developing curves.
In short, by investing to keep ahead of technology and media changes we’re able to provide more solutions, options, and ideas to further our clients’ objectives.
As important as technology and its tools are, however, in our business they don’t actually solve problems. Only people do. We’re ren1inded of a saying ascribed to the composer, Duke Ellington:
It is not the piano that makes great music; it is the person sitting at the piano.
This means that, as with any type of professional service, most of what you contract for with a design firm is individuals’ time. In turn, this means that most differences in their pricing are usually a direct reflection of the level of depth and breadth of talent that will be brought to bear.
Much design time is executional in nature. That is, it involves “working things out.” And unlike some other businesses, there are few economies of scale or shortcuts that can be taken advantage of. The process does not vary greatly from person to person, or often even firm to firm. So while it is perhaps a cliché to say so, with design services you’ll pretty much get what you pay for.
The cost of employing highly-qualified, experienced, and talented professionals often does result in higher upfront costs. But it usually also results in lower costs over time. This brings us to another maxim, by renowned Houston, Texas-based legendary oil well fire fighter, Paul “Red” Adair,
If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
We hope you will let us prove this to be true on your next project.