Design Is Not the Icing
Have you every had to explain what you do to someone who has a preconceived notion of your profession? It's why I've always hesitated to call myself a graphic designer. You tell someone that and they are like, " So you design websites?" or, "Can you design me a logo?" or, worst of all, "So your job is to make things pretty." While all true, my value—and design's value—is worth so more than a single piece of collateral. So much more than pretty.
What's a Brand Consultant
Out of frustration, I shifted to saying I'm a "brand consultant" but that usually gets met with blank stares. I work with small businesses and consultants (often companies of one) and they are not used to considering themselves as a brand. In their minds, brands are Target, Amazon, FedEx... not them or other small businesses.
Therefore, while they know they need a graphic designer for the aforementioned website or logo, they don't realize in order for the website or logo to make an impact, they actually need a brand consultant. Someone who also thinks to ask: What's your brand objectives? And from there, continues to ask questions.
Meet Them Where They're At
Technically I should have titled this article: Branding is not the icing. However, sometimes in order for your message to resonate you have to meet your audience where they're at. Since my audience knows they need graphic design, I meet them there. Then once we talk, and I inevitably ask questions, they quickly realize I'm like no other designer they've worked with before. And instead of just blindly designing a new pretty website or logo, we get to the root of the problem—the content. Because like icing, design can be the finishing touch to make things look pretty, but without substance your design will only be a façade.
My Challenge To You
Before your next design project ask yourself: What are my business objectives? And does my current content help me get there or does it need work? Chance are, it's the substance that needs consideration, not just the look.