Until recently, my clients were always involved in creating the inspiration board for their brand.
It made sense, in theory, that they would be able to share the visual direction they see for their brand and I would be able to curate it to perfection.
In reality, my clients come to me because they aren’t sure the right visual direction for their brand, they don’t have the time to design their own brand and they don’t have the background knowledge to assist me in a meaningful way.
This reality led me to make a change in my design process - cutting my clients out of the inspiration board (also known as mood boards) altogether.
Reasons for making the change
There were a few reasons that pushed me to make this change to my design process.
First, the inspiration boards were harder to create in tandem with my clients. My clients either shared images that weren’t useful to the process (i.e., brand boards or mismatched aesthetics.) or I felt obligated to use the images they selected even if/when they didn’t feel right.
Secondly, my clients may have wound up feeling hyper-invested in the images that were selected at the end rather than the overall feel of the inspiration board.
Lastly, they had to put in the time and effort to save pins for me to begin my part of the process. For me, this was the final straw. I always want to work in partnership with my clients, but I never want them to feel like they are hiring me to do a job and I’m passing the work off on them.
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How it works now
Since implementing this system, I have had to make a few adjustments to my design process.
First, I ask a few more design-related questions in my questionnaire. If my clients are no longer participating in curating the inspiration, I need to ask up front what the must-haves and have-nots are for their brand.
Second, I needed to adjust my timeline a smidgen to allow time for me to curate the inspiration. Initially, I had my clients curate all of the inspiration before our time together had even begun. Now, I need the time to curate after our timeline has begun.
Finally, I provide an ever more detailed version of my design proposal. I’ve always found a design proposal to be incredibly useful, but now it is a true game-changer to my entire process.
Going into this, I admit I was nervous.
It was truly putting my questionnaire and designer instinct to the test. The first client I sent an inspiration board to, that was cut out of this process, responded like this:
“The design proposal looks great :) I feel like you truly listened and heard what’s on my heart about my company and how I want to serve couples, thank you!”
Needless to say, it was a success. The inspiration board was approved, with no revisions needed and we were able to move forward to the next step of the process with ease.
I realize this will not always be the case, which is why I send it as a proposal.
I detail why I made certain decisions, how it aligns with their brand and mission and where I would like to take their brand beyond the inspiration board.
Then, I ask them for their input. I want them to share what, if anything, was missed or felt off. They are the experts in their business and that can’t be undervalued during this process.
In the end, it is all about my clients walking away delighted and empowered by their new brand.