Seth Godin posted a great blog recently called Avoiding “I’ll know it when I see it” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/11/avoiding-ill-know-it-when-i-see-it.html
He raised some very good points, but I’d like to add to his ideas. In addition to creating boundaries, asking for benchmarks, and describing the assignment – don’t forget the language differences that can arise.
It is important to recognize that when speaking to a client about graphic design or branding, or even marketing in general, it is quite likely that you and your client are speaking two separate languages. Just as wine has its own language, so does design! The same red wine can be described as “dry and leaving a weird taste in your mouth” and also as “richly full bodied, with a lingering finish reminiscent of spiced leather.” The descriptions come from two different tastes, perceptions, and abilities to describe those perceptions. A client’s idea of the colour red may range from candy apple to burgundy. It is our job to figure out which it is.
As the leader in the design process, it is my job to ask clarifying questions, restate what is said, and keep the ‘jargon’ to a minimum. I know my job is to please the client by sing my graphic designer’s talents to create a product that achieves their goals – but it is also my job to ensure a pleasant experience during the design process. I can ease the stress of translating what they envision into the final product by taking the time up front to clarify language and explain the concepts before they are presented. A little considerate communication in the beginning makes the whole process easier and happier for everyone, especially the client.