Starting nearly any design process with a client has a lot in common with life at the beginning of a marriage; both are fun, hopeful and full of endless passion.
Then again, the middle of the design process can resemble life, mid-marriage; both become a drag, someone feels misunderstood and hope is waning. As the Economist once tweeted “nights of endless passion are eventually replaced with snoring.”
Well, not exactly, but we all know the frustrating feeling of “why can’t this designer get it right already,” or “what on earth was I thinking when I hired this weirdo.”
For all of us who have been there, we know that when things become a drag, it’s time to get creative. Or can there be a simple ‘how to’ formula to get out of the inconvenient mess? In the world of relationships, the best coaches and therapists use ‘Imago’.It’s one of their ‘how to’ clear the atmosphere and move forward. At Growthanomics, we adopted a few of its guidelines to one of our own tactics.
The creative process from “this piece of crap” to masterpiece
The real problem is when a client doesn’t know how to move beyond the disappointment of “this piece of crap.” At that point all a client knows is that they want to jaw drop their customers and their competition. But they have no idea how to get there.
Marketers, designers and the like, talented and creative as they may be, are not mind readers. But it is their job to help their clients gain clarity; first and foremost for themselves. Once creatives can understand their clients true and uncovered thoughts they can move on and actually bring those thoughts to life.
At Growthanomics, one of the tactics in our unique sprint process helps clients clarify to themselves and to us the yet unspoken masterpiece in their mind. Use it when you launch a creative process or when you are in its early stages and you’ll avoid the “this is a bunch of crap” week altogether.
The building blocks to getting unstuck
Creativity is messy and the first step to pulling your client out of the mud is to help them understand what they like. Depending on what they’re working on, a logo, an icon,an app or even web page design, help your client to:
1. Find inspiration anywhere. Work within the confines of the specific item you’re working on.
The key here, is for the client to share their sources of creative inspiration, unknowingly. Just ask your clients what they like. For example if you’re working on an app, look to any app, no matter what the field or subject, for sources of inspiration.
When we worked with a customer who built a B2B app we hunted for cool apps. We landed on Tinder, Google Maps, an app for bus schedules, Pinterest, and even a sports pedometer.
None of these apps had anything to do with each other. But they enabled two very important things: having fun and unconsciously mapping out various experiences; ones that the customers felt are important, and which would be the anchors for their app.
Gaining clarity can be stressful. This first step simplifies the process and let’s your client have a good time.
2. Move close to home – Choosing items they like in their ecosystem
While in the first step clients chose unrelated sources of inspiration, in the second step you’re going to limit them; you’re going to ask your client to choose items that relate to the world their working within. So if your client is working on a logo for a productivity app, you’ll ask them to choose a few productivity apps they really like.
3. Find the common denominator
Help your client line up everything they chose in steps number one and two.
Using your analytical talents, find the common denominator. How?
By getting curious about what moves your client and asking unopinionated questions.
For example: if an icon has colors in common, or a gradient that is fashionable, or has sharp lines, ask your clients if they like these parameters.
As the expert, it’s your job to eventually come up with a solution. The way to find the solution that suites your client’s mind is by making observations and affirming them with your client. This dialogue will enable you to drill deep until you come to clear understanding.
Building The Yes Brief
After completing all the above steps, the final step of the process is to finally build (or rebuild) your brief. And this time when you build it, you’ll focus on all the things to which your client has said yes.
If before you started the process your client was telling you everything they don’t like or if they had expected you to read their mind in order to build their dream, your new brief will be built upon the insight and understanding you’ve gained from your client; that is everything they have said yes to, which means we can now articulate their dream and come closer to producing it.
It will now be possible for you to dig back into the creative process, reignite the passion that was lost, and build the masterpiece in your client’s mind. Or better yet, like some lucky few have experienced – building a strong empowering relationship that will produce great products. One after the other.
Wanna dig deep? Curious about the source of this process? Imago Relationship Therapy
Imago relationship therapy teaches understanding and empathy, helping to transform conflict into opportunity. Through seeking to understand, asking question and beginning a dialogue, you can help your client reignite the passion that got lost in the process.
Imago helps you and your clients understand the essence of what is truly important to them. This is only possible through a ping-pong dialogue in which sincere questions are asked to better understand why certain elements were chosen and how they are connected to the project.
Ask questions that reflect what the customer said he liked and disliked. By asking these questions in a non-judgmental way that seeks to understand your client, you will build an understanding of what you will put into the Yes Brief and how you will build the design. Moreover, you’ll gain your customer’s’ trust and a feeling ‘you get them’
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are eclectic human beings, deriving concepts, ideas and styles from the vast influences on our lives.
And this is perhaps the secret of Imago in Growthanomic’s unique sprint process: it represents an eclectic approach to creativity; an approach that collects the great tactics and methods the world has to offer marketing, and encourages dialogue and understanding within a creative process that is not easily understood.