Collaborating and Negotiating: Part II

Today, we’re looking at the collaboration side of negotiation and collaboration in graphic design. Because your work is ultimately for the client, at times you as the designer must be willing to compromise to reach a mutually agreeable goal. Here are some tips to help you collaborate with clients.

Ways to Collaborate

Listen. On page 28 of its publication A Client’s Guide to Design: How to Get the Most Out of the Process, AIGA states that “The most successful collaborations are always those where all the information is on the table and expectations are in the open from the outset.” Ask questions and practice active listening to really understand what your client wants in the first place. What’s their vision of the finished product?

Research. Know the company before you meet with them, and take time to learn about their world. If you’re working for a nonprofit, read up on current issues in charity work. If you’re working with a small business, take time to understand small business trends.

Learn. While you may have a handle on what your client wants and what will make audiences respond, remember that the marketing directors with whom you are working are also striving to understand their particular audience. Asking for their help and clarification can give you insights into a niche audience they may know better.

Be willing to simplify. Remember, what you’re ultimately doing is developing a communication strategy. However creative you want to be, if the client doesn’t feel like you’re communicating what they want, it doesn’t matter how brilliant or original your design is.

If you want more suggestions, AIGA’s article on in-house design and communication is quite helpful in learning about communication with a broad client base.