Parental Tips on Graphic Design, Part 2
A year ago, when my daughter, Audrey, first arrived on the scene, I wrote about how parenting relates to graphic design. Looking back, those insights still apply, but now that she’s a toddler, I’m finding her an even-more-pertinent object lesson for the work I undertake at Cassel Bear.
Time is bonding.
Spending a year with someone helps you understand his or her needs more. Audrey is learning how to speak my language, and I’m learning to interpret hers (trust me, she has a language; it sounds a lot like Steve Carrell in Bruce Almighty). With clients, the same is true. Relationships, over time, allow us to learn design preferences, better understand a company’s voice, and impart strategic expertise. It makes for more effective marketing.
Find what makes them tick.
Audrey is going to excel at the things to which she is most drawn, which at the moment are babbling, utility vehicles, sparkly things, and acorn tops. Branding is similar: to what does the company keep returning? What drives them? Our job as designers is to figure that out, and then encourage and assist clients to develop that to their advantage.
But make sure you don’t ignore the things that simply need to be done.
Audrey hates baths and diaper changes while we’re in the midst of them, but afterwards she and I both are much happier. Of course we’d rather be playing, but let’s get the oatmeal out of her hair first. We and our clients alike have our passions, and it can be easy to concentrate only on those things that give us energy, but we need to remember not overlook the more monotonous tasks at hand. Designing a new logo can be a lot of fun, but don’t forget to reorder the business envelopes.
Provide tools that are user-friendly.
It’s pretty great to see Audrey try to do things that adults do, but letting her sip out a glass cup or letting her play with markers won’t go very well for the time being. Instead, we have cups and crayons suited just for her hand size and coordination level. Likewise, we need to be wise with what kind of responsibilities and access we expect from our clients on things like websites, printed documents, etc, not because they wouldn’t have the intelligence or skill to do it if trained, but because they need to keep concentrating on advancing and supporting their business and their passions. For example we’ll provide a content management system for their website that allows them to update it without having to learn code.
Communication is helpful.
When I am in control of something that belongs to someone else—for Audrey, it’s her time, food and toys; for clients, it’s their design on any number of things—they would love to know what I’m doing with it. I try to communicate with Audrey when we’re going to eat lunch, and I try to keep clients updated on projects. Routine is also helpful, so once they are familiar with it, they know from experience what to expect.
Consistency is key.
At home I try my best to be a present and caring mom whether I’m feeling tired or goofy, if I’m busy working on the house, or with free time. At Cassel Bear, we hold the same high standard of work across all clients and across a single client experience. This is how toddlers and clients learn who you are, what you stand for, and that they can rely on you.
Parenting doesn’t come without its challenges, just like any job, but the relationships and the entities you help build are worth the while.