I’m always looking for relationships. No, not that kind. I’m talking about client relationships. As a graphic designer-slash-branding specialist working in the not for profit sector, I am always on the lookout for that special someone who will see me as a strategic partner, a creative thinker they can count on… as opposed to a (shudder) ‘supplier’ of graphic design.
It’s not just semantics. In this age of message saturation and A.D.D, how I express what I do for my clients is an ongoing challenge. Not that I lack the right words, but rather because the people I am trying to reach (Marketing, Communications, and Development Directors and Managers, Executive Directors) are bombarded by the same claims and promises. Ad nauseum.
The prevailing wisdom in communications these days is to banish ‘marketing-speak’. Be real. Cultivate your authentic voice. Well, good. Works for me. The trouble is, the word ‘authentic’, is bandied about to the point of meaninglessness. Sigh.
In fact ‘authenticity ‘ is central to my process (yes, it’s literally in the middle) – right there on my website: “insight, authenticity, and inspiration“. I recommend to my clients to know why they’re doing what they do, and tell the world. To have a powerful brand story that will resonate. To be great while doing good. I think it makes sense to apply that same spirit of authenticity to how we work together.
When I receive an initial inquiry or quote request from an organization by email my first impulse is to fire one back asking when we can schedule a short chat. I feel it’s important to ‘meet’, at least briefly, the person I will potentially be working with over the course of a few weeks or even months. Experience has shown me that our first interaction is a good predictor of how the entire process will unfold.
When all goes well, I get a chance to prove that I’m the real deal, ready to go above and beyond what’s expected, to take my client’s branding and communications to the next level. Ideally, a dialogue is created, based on mutual respect and integrity. Over time, my client develops a comfort level with my knowledge of their organization, environment, and communications challenges. They know they can count on me to deliver. I know I’m doing my best for them. A beautiful working relationship ensues. And who doesn’t want that?