The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Business Relationships Part 2

2. Your job includes selling, so better get good at it

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.

David M. Ogilvy

Clients are possibly your highest hurdle in the creative business – and the most essential one. You can’t always live with them, but you can definitely not live without them. So you only have two possibilities: you can either give up your profession and start collecting stamps instead, or you can choose to become better at selling your work to the client, e.g. by increasing your persuasive skills.

Familiarize with the idea of handling your clients professionally. Put as much effort in selling as you invest in design. Unlike other businesses, where customers have a variety of static products to choose from, the design business is, per definition, the conversion of creativity into a product. You invent things. And if you want to be successful at it, you should learn how to sell them.

3. Presentation is everything

The beauty of our profession contains the predicament of a pool of different tastes. Everybody perceives design differently. Above the line of psychological findings, people are different from each other, thus are attracted to different things.

Let’s say you created six different designs for your clients Corporate Identity. You most certainly have a favorite one – it is the one you know to be best for your clients needs. But you also know that there is a chance of your client not going with that specific design. While he has more insight than you about his business, you have the necessary insight and knowledge about identity design. So how win your client for the best and most significant design?

These are things you shouldn’t do the points you should always follow:

  • Avoid sending drafts out per mail.
  • Never send initial drafts out per e-mail.
  • Unless your job is a website, never bring a laptop to a presentation.
  • do not hand out USB sticks or DVDs / CDs of your drafts.

And this is how you could do it:

  • Always present drafts personally. You have a personal relationship with your client. Give him the respect he deserves! After all, he is not buying tulips for his wife, but an identity for his company.
  • Walk the client through the presentation, do not just throw the drafts at him. Give him some insight about the reasons for every one of your designs. Familiarize him with your thoughts. Use your know-how to make it clear why you chose to do what you did.

The 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising: Composition

This is the second installment in the 55 secret Rules in Design and Advertising. So far, I’ve covered:

  • Part 1: Basic Rules

Set 2: The Rules of Composition in Design

Composition describes the arrangement of the elements of art, or design, in an artwork, using the principles of design. Sometimes, comp is used as a substitute for artwork (mainly in advertising), although that’s actually incorrect, as the artwork is the piece itself and not the placement of the elements inside.

This leads us to the question: What are the elements of design? The answer is the first rule of composition:

1. Know your Stuff

The first rule of composition refers to knowing the elements and principles of design. Let’s take a look at the elements first.

These are the basic components, or ingredients, we use to produce an artwork. They provide the structure for a design. The elements of design are:

  • color – has three properties: hue/tint (red), intensity/purity (bright red), and what is an element of design itself:
  • value – the lightness or darkness (luminance), especially important for monochrome artwork
  • line – we all know a line when we see it – it can be straight or curved, thick or thin, solid or dashed or dotted, blurred or fuzzy, etc. etc.
  • shape – usually two-dimensional (e.g. a square)
  • form – a three-dimensional shape (e.g. a cube)
  • texture – the feel of an object, expressed by a surface quality like flat, glossy, glittery, wet, furry, sandy, leathery, etc.
  • space – the distance between (negative) and taken up by (positive) objects

Looking at our everyday work, we can see that everything we create and use, from a photograph over a vector illustration to a typeface, is made up of these elements.

Now, as we know what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at the principles of design. These refer directly to the elements of design as named above. They are intended to lead the designer in order to create a better artwork. Some tend to see the principles of design as ideals, others as issues; however both as inherent in the best designs. The principles of design are:

  • balance – the way the elements of art are arranged to create stability (symmetry, asymmetry, radial)
  • emphasis – the dominance given to an element in an artwork
  • harmony – a union, or blend, of aesthetically compatible components
  • movement – arranging, and combining, the elements of art to produce the look of action; also in a way that causes the eye to move over the work
  • pattern / rhythm – the repetition of an element; visual tempo creating movement
  • proportion – comparative relation of one part to another
  • tension – tenuous balance, capable of causing anxiety or excitement
  • unity – the combination of all elements into one complete whole, achieved through balancing harmony and variety
  • variety – the opposite of monotony in an artwork; the use of diversity

So there you have them. Knowing the elements and principles of design is of great importance for every designer. We use the elements every day and use the principles to make a composition, so we should know what we’re talking about!

Let’s move on to the 2nd rule of composition.