— On Comms Design. From London

When we push our clients too far

Selling an idea is the most difficult thing in the world. First, because it has no shape and people’s understanding of what that idea is can be shaped only by what they already know. Second, because the idea needs to meet expectations and exceed them only this much. Not too much because this is nor art, I keep reminding my younger colleagues. Third, because all the parties involved have different metrics they measure the success of an idea by. The young Art Director wants to become famous in a small community of avantgarde designers. The Client Lead needs to get a good review so he can ask for a raise. The Brand Manager needs to sell that idea to Product Managers. The CMO needs to make money. While they agree in theory on a brief, their inner motivations are different.

So fear, sometimes that we push our clients too far when challenging them to take on ideas which are unshaped, way beyond the normal expectations and not meeting with their inner motivations. Is a successful idea that which amazes by a young Art Director’s standards? That which the client can buy, as the Client Lead wants? Or that which the Brand Manager feel he can sell into his boss?

I have no answer but I believe that when making a decision ALL should be starting from the same metrics. Therefore, I believe that agreement on briefs is paramount and deep, intense backgrounds to every brief and every idea are necessary. It also helps if we have a tissue session now and then.