Several years ago, while attending one of my son’s baseball games, and being entirely frustrated by a problematic client situation, I penned the following manifesto. The content is meant to be tounge-in-cheek and mostly for fun. Designers find it hilarious. I hope you enjoy it!
A D E S I G N E R S M A N I F E S T O
– by Scott Curtis
It has come to our attention that there are several misconceptions about our business. We wanted to take a few moments (maybe more) to clear things up:
01. We do a lot of work for various charities throughout our community. You are not one of them.
Which leads us to.
02. No, we do not do this for free. We actually have the audacity to make a living at this. Yes, its true (shocking no doubt). We charge between $75-$100 an hour for our time and our estimates are based on the number of hours we feel an assignment will take. We are rarely wrong. And yes, we round up to the nearest hour. So that little change you neglected to mention until midnight will incur an additional charge. Sorry.
03. No, we not do this for fun. While we were intelligent enough to pick a profession we actually like – this is not our hobby. I am sure if you Google it there is no doubt a Hobby Lobby location near you.
04. No, you can’t have it now, in ten minutes, this afternoon or any other time your lack of planning requires. We do not allow clients to make their problem ours. Design is a process and good design takes time. We stumbled on a formula many years ago we’d like to share with you: short deadlines = crappy design. But if you feel you must call somebody about your scheduling problem or just want to talk to someone who cares we are sure Dr. Laura would be glad to take your call. We will take your call – but we will not be glad.
05. No, you are not the center of our universe. Possibly yours, but not ours. Believe it or not we actually have other clients. Chances are probably good, if you are getting this note, they are all probably paying more than you. The bigger the budget the more of our attention a project receives. A 24 page brochure will always trump a business card any day and twice on Sunday. Sorry, just the way it is.
06. No, we do not have a good buddy discount, Church member discount, friend of a friend discount, or any other discount. For that there is Walmart. Think of us as the Dillard’s of design. Our time is our time and it costs what it costs. Don’t ask. And if we give you a price break for whatever reason (if you are so lucky) don’t tell.
07. We do not have a magic wand. We are not wizards from Hogwarts. And, last time I checked, we do not practice magic, black or otherwise. We can only work with what you give us. So, if you give us nothing, you get nothing. If you are lax on your creative brief answers, we will be lax with your project. Although we’ve tried, we have yet to successfully figure out how to design in a vacuum. We have no doubt that Steve Jobs and/or Bill Gates will someday solve this problem for us. But for now, yes, you have to work WITH us to get your job done. Yes, there will be work. If only a little bit.
08. You don’t like the color we picked? The font? You better be prepared to defend that position with sound logic and reason. We do not pick colors, fonts, layout or anything related to design based on aesthetic preference. Neither should you. Everything we do is designed to promote your product or service with maximum impact for your target audience. 9 times out of 10 you are NOT your target audience. We are trying to make you a category leader. Not a follower. This means appealing to the customer. Not you. Yes, we do know what we are doing.
09. No, you are not an expert in brand development. That would be our department. Reading a book or articles on branding an expert does NOT one make. We have built brands for ________, and many more clients, past and present we do not have the space here to list. Odds are good you are not one of these companies. So if we are explaining creative to you and you are tempted to think we are full of something we will not mention here – don’t. Chances are better than 99% that we know more than you. A lot more. We did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday.
10. No, we will not use the picture you found on Google, the sound file you found on Bing, or that font you found on that free CD your co-worker left on his desk. We expect people to respect our work through compensation and we appreciate our colleagues in the businesses’s desire for us to do the same. Usage rights for intellectual property is serious business. We are usually looking out for yours and our best interest. Being sued is never fun the last time we checked. We could be wrong on this one. We have no experience with being sued and want to keep it that way.
11. On that note, no, we cannot use that photo you took on your iPhone or Blackberry or the one your kids brother’s sister took on a disposable camera. You came to us because we are experts at what we do. We know what it takes to print your project and how to do a project right. We do not make up stories, embellish or generally act in a dishonest manner. Do not fight us when we tell you your content won’t work. It’s nothing personal (well maybe a little). We just know what we are doing and just trust us when we say it won’t work. We are not kidding (this time).
12. No, we are not copy writers. But we know people who are. If you want copy expertly written, researched, and edited we will be happy to provide resources for these services. But as above, no, it is also not free. Copywriters like to make a living too. Really, it’s true. I’ve heard them say it. This is also true of photographers, illustrators, photo retouchers, production artists, web programmers, commercial artists, or any other kind of artist or production person we may use for your project. People’s time costs money.
13. No, we do not know what you mean. We expect you to take the questions we ask you seriously. We are very strategic in our craft. And no, we are not mind readers. Believe it or not (We sense you still don’t believe us. We can almost hear what you are thinking. This time).
14. No, we do not agree with your spouse’s friend’s brother’s sister’s cousin who is in the ‘Biz.’ Participants who are not engaged in our project do not know the objectives or rationale behind what we are trying to achieve and should not have a voice in our process. Chances are, we designed it that way for a reason. And we are confident any detached observer has no clue what that he/she is even looking at. I heard once that to someone not working on our project through a horse looked like a potted plant. It really happened. Never seen a horse and plant be confused for one another until now.
15. Believe it or not, we are proponents of doing market research. Research is a powerful way to legitimize design and ensure it’s success. However, showing work in progress to your daughter’s new boy friend (the one who is taking classes at Al Collins design school) is NOT conducting market research. And, you guessed it, market research is also not free.
16. No, we won’t show you ‘how to do it’ – PERIOD. Don’t even ask. Twenty years of design experience can not be distilled in an hour with your secretary working in Microsoft Word on her souped up PC. And no, simply buying Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or even a Mac will not allow you to do what we do either. If you could do what we do why are we even having this conversation? If you do know how to do what WE are doing then we invite you to follow that sage council of Nike and ‘Just Do It.’ We do not care that you took an art class at the local junior college, got a degree in design 25 years ago (that is now going to waste in your real estate career) or that you graduated from anywhere other than an established, ranked and accredited university. You are not in our league. Do not try. It looks very pathetic from our side of the desk when you attempt camaraderie as a fellow designer. Yes, it really does.
17. Do not call us or email every 5 minutes, email everytime you have a though, text, ping, or telepathically try and reach us. It has an air of desperation to it, is very unseemly, and is no doubt annoying. Especially for that $300 project. We get that this IS the most important thing in the entire world to you. Really we do. But it just is not to us. Again, nothing personal. We have won about every design award there is to win in our industry. So understand that we are not easily excitable and it also will not make the process go any faster. We are also people who you can trust. If we tell you we will do something rest assured it will get done exactly as we outline it. Maybe even better. If you just have to talk to somebody we would again refer you to Dr. Laura (I see a ratings bonanza in her future).
Now, if you are feeling offended, talked down to, belittled, aggravated, agitated, irritated (or any other …ated), we are probably not a good fit for you. And yes, we are OK with that. We will not be offended if you go somewhere else. Really, we won’t. Really (we are not even kidding about this).
If you are one of these people who are sure there are companies out there like; freedesign.com, iwantittomorrow.com, readmymind.com, iamtheboss.com, mayihaveanother.com, ihaveanidea.com, onemorechange.com and the ever popular iamadesignertoo.com, let us know how that works out for you. On second thought, don’t. We really don’t care. Really. Again, Dr. Laura will be glad to take your call. Nowadays there are a lot of people giving design away. There are many discount or free design sites like 99designs.com, squarespace.com and a multitude of other businesses out there. Remember, you get what you pay for and anything that sounds too good to be true simply is. We warned you.
However, If you are a company or have a product, message, enterprise, whatever that wants to find success and also believes in doing what it takes to do it right, will take this process seriously, and will except and find value in our experience and expertise then give us a call (or email, that works too). We have put a lot of companies on the path to success. Why any business would enter the marketplace without making efforts to ensure the greatest odds of success by doing something so fundamentally necessary as building a strong brand is beyond us. It may appear expensive on the surface. But in the long run what is a brand like Nike, Microsoft, Apple or any other worth in the end (rhetorical question but one that is fun to consider). Chances are better than not that these companies would never have become successful without investing in the success of their brands. If you look the part and square with your audiences’ perception then you can get right down to business. If not, the majority of client/customer introduction, be it your product sitting on a shelf or in person at your first sales call meeting, is wasted on convincing that potential customer of your legitimacy. We refer to this the Brand Promise. Building a strong brand is more fundamental to achieving success than most businesses realize. A logo or brand designed by your sons’ girlfriends neighbors’ mom’s uncles’ sister who knows a guy that … whom you paid $40 (you get the point). Simply put – we know how to wield the power of brand development and design to stack the odds of success in your favor. And we are damn good at what we do. Just ask many of our satisfied customers. Award winning design is our product. Results are the impact we have on your business.
We hope that clears a few things up and thank you for your time.