Tell us what you consider to be the most useful technique in the design/development process?
I think before even getting to the process, the most important aspect is getting to know the audience, the prospect of knowing your audience ensures that the creative product meets their needs and expectations.
When I embark on a piece of creative work, I put a lot of effort into being aware of who my creative product is for. It’s then informed by the themes, subject matter and content of my work, as well as my own influences and approach.
I mentioned audience expectation as well; this question could be answered in two parts. Part 1 relates to me and my offering and Part 2 relates to audience expectations of the elements surrounding that offering i.e. channel, pricing, venue, experience etc.
My offering is comprised of the elements that help me define the audience in the first place. My audience might either have the same tastes as me, or they might be inquisitive explorers wanting to investigate whether or not my creative product will suit them
Expectation is based on the audience’s prior experience of my work or of similar works. From making the decision to go and experience my work, a journey begins. The route is flanked by the audience’s assumptions, informed by prior experience of my work or similar. They’re going to make comparisons about price, content, venue and more.
For me the creative process is a serialized story. If the engagement with the audience is healthy, they’ll avidly await each installment to find out what’s going to happen next. If I am embarking on a new project, I have an opportunity to bring an audience on that journey with me, encouraging their emotional investment in the idea.
A practice I usually use is to create a model of an ideal customer/audience member for my work – personas. What are their tastes, background, education, location, or even their marital status? What are their values? I then create variations on this model, as many as I can think of, and the results will be my audience profiles. This then informs the production of the right type of creative product, via channels which the audience consumes such material and hopefully it is engaging enough to become spreadable and dynamic.
Where does branding fit into your development strategy?
Here’s a piece of concrete, it’s got a little color on one side and I would like £2,500 for it…no chance that’s going to happen. What if I told you it was the first fragment chipped off the Berlin wall? I might be a little closer to having you take your wallet out. That is the power of branding, that emotional resonance which represents everything one stands for. The wall in Berlin is no different to any other wall physically, but that wall is a brand, just for that the value is much higher in the audiences mind.
As a challenger brand, entering the market place – branding is very important – I am trying to build a brand that represent the values that makes me unique, rather than what makes me admirable. The challenge is to differentiate myself and the need to overcome marketing clutter that in today’s 24 hour “always on” world puts increased demands on people’s time. Secondly, my brand has to overcome tribal buying habits and I have always thought that if you want to differentiate yourself, forget about best practice! Best practice is common practice – doesn’t add up to much!
Every brand is built with experience touch points and some of the questions I ask in terms of developing my brand are:
- How will they learn about me?
- Who and what will be the competition at each of the touch points?
- Where should I put our marketing resources and where should I not put them?
- Touch points used heavily by competitors should these be dropped or not?
All these will define the CHC corporate story, what we stand for, what we believe in and our ingredients to making our customers happy.
The CHC brand is ‘a ‘promise of an experience’ and conveys to audiences a certain assurance as to the nature of the creative product they will receive and the standard of quality. I am passionate that CHC becomes recognised for its commitment to service, value & long-term relationships.
The CHC brand acts as a guarantee of quality and originality.
Which design tool makes the biggest contribution to your creative output and why?
Even though we live in a digital world I would still say for me that the ease of putting an idea from pencil to paper forms a significant part of my creative output. Often ideas can be spontaneous and a simple sketch can grow and develop to be the next big brand of tomorrow. Yes, software design tools are important but from a creative standpoint, speaking solely about creativity and leaving technical skill aside, the ability to generate and communicate ideas is one of the most significant skills a creative designer can have in our industry. Drawing exercises the creativity to problem solve and to learn to think in a creative way. It can also be very therapeutic. So for these qualities, the pencil is the design tool which I adhere to creatively the most.
What do you feel are the most important skills for a designer to have/develop?
I admire people who don’t make any compromise within their art. Originality is very important to me and I am always impressed with designers who follow there own approach. In the commercial world however not every designer has the liberty to push creative barriers and often must work within project boundaries. In this context an important skill a designer must have/develop is being able to shape information that is provided to them that meets end users needs. Yes the argument can arise of creativity versus commercialism however what is an important skill for an artist to have in this scenario is observation, of ones audience and environment. My goal in design has always been to push the boundaries and to combine different skills from different industries. Also, being creative and making commercial pieces without losing my soul has always been a very important challenge. Some people think it’s wrong to say that creativity could be commercial… I don’t think this is the case if you work with a good moral code and a good ethic.
If you could leave our readers with one last piece of business advice, what would it be?
Always look to build long lasting business relationships with not only your clients but also with influencers. In the case of newer business this is especially more prevalent. How your brand is perceived and the approachability of your brand can be greatly improved with partnering with quality influencers that can direct audience to you.