The value of a designer
There’s been a lot of discussion about value in architecture this last year or so. Particularly when it comes to interns, architectural trainees and staff pay but also with clients perceived value of architects work. Architects have long had an issue with how they value their services which has created all sorts of issues in recent years. I’ve already discussed a little on this subject in a post earlier this year titled Branding of Architecture.
I’ve recently been assessing my own brand identity and reworking it into something that feels more in line with my ethos, ideas and my clients. This process got me thinking about the value of brand design. It’s hard to know if people really understand what value I bring as a designer or if they just perceive brand design as “making it look good”.
I was listening to a Just Branding podcast interview with Scott Buschkuhl discussing branding and it’s value. Scott opens with branding being the emotional response humans have with a product/service a company provides and how that’s communicated. I think this is a great summary of what branding is but it does lead to more questions. Later in the interview Scott talks about a clients coming to Siegel & Gale wanting a website to drive traffic and increase sales but that might not be the solution to the clients needs. The website might be fine but it might be how they’re using their messaging, engagement or visual language. This working out what the real problem is and coming up with a solution is the real value of a designer.
Within architectural school one of the lessons learnt was to always question the brief. This investigation as to who the client is, who the audience is, what are the needs of the audience, the function and position within society is the foundations of the end result. It’s what can make a building fail or make it incredible. And it’s the same with graphic design. The value of a designer comes from the ability to expand the brief and work out the true needs and a solution to that.
The initial stages are the most important with a design project. Having an open discussion about the brief and not being afraid to change or adapt the initial solution helps build a successful project. This investigation needs to be supported by a holistic design approach that doesn’t just think about the initial reaction but considers the long term strategy.
The value of a designer is their ability to assess a brief and provide an honest solution that focuses on the clients needs.