Graphic Designers: If you haven’t kicked the habit already, stop giving two to three design comps (or more) when you present key art ideas to your client or boss. Not only does it suggest that you lack confidence in your ability to accomplish the goals set out by the project initially, it also says you’re not convinced enough to present one strong idea. This in turn helps to protect your ego so that in case one idea is not a clear winner, there are a few others to talk about. “Hello Client, here are a couple ideas to get something on the table. I look forward to talking these over with you and seeing what fits best, or maybe a hybrid of the two.” Sound familiar?
I was talking to my art director at Foursquare yesterday. He has a really strong background in corporate design and branding, and does stellar work. He has a solid portfolio of real world work, including training at one of the best art schools around. Shortly after he joined my team, I gave him my “no more comp” spiel. “But that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!”
When the boss or client receives multiple design comps, it puts them in the expert seat. It says that the client or boss knows how best to communicate and that you don’t, so you’re going to keep mocking up ideas until you get it right.
Get it right the first time.
Do your homework. Research. Survey. It’s completely fine for you and your team (if you have one) to work internally on several ideas to see which one emerges as the clear winner. But don’t include the client or boss in on that process. The process with your client or boss should be heavy on the front side–understanding the goals of the communication piece and what they’re seeing. If you present your one and only idea and it doesn’t knock it out of the park, it means there was a breakdown in understanding the expectations of the project in the first place.
The more you’re the expert, the more you’ll be trusted to continue delivering over and over again. The more you come up with multiple ideas, the more you’ll be seen as the Photoshop wonder-kid.
Apple, Trader Joe’s and In-N-Out get this right. They don’t give many options. They get it right the first time. They narrow the focus for you because they know what you want/need in the first place.
By the way, providing one winning idea instead of several decent ideas will save you time and either make you more money (firms and freelancers) or save your employer more money. There’s an idea.
Next up: I’ve got a note coming to bosses and clients who need to hear this as well.