What It Means to "Design"

When getting an estimate from an agency, you may ask yourself, “What do I get for that “design” fee?”  Is it just some kid who’s good with computers? What kind of marketing experience goes in to it? Why is it taking so long?

First off, we not only look for the best designers but everyone at the agency needs to be creative.

Your account managers have to be able to envision what your ad/campaign/website needs to look like and operate for your potential prospects as well as suiting the look and feel of your company. We research your demographics and stay up to date on modern trends of their habits. Even the simplest web banners take into account our knowledge of how users will interact with websites and how your company has to be seen by them.

All our staff does research on a routine basis for design and demographic research. All this is after gaining their college degrees in marketing and/or design, previous job experiences and other trainings they’ve taken over the years. From here the account managers create a creative brief and meet with the Art Director. This is where the magic happens. A quick creative meeting gets everyone on the same page and then the creative ideas start brewing.

Once an idea is selected, the designers are off to work.

Designers are required to be following current trends in order to stay creatively relevant. What’s hot, what’s not, what’s TOO trendy…or does this job need to create a new trend? Each artist does his or her research differently. Some look at similar works to get their inspiration, others look at completely different subject maters to get the creative juices flowing. Nothing sets off a good campaign like the PERFECT photo or illustration!

Ok, now that we’ve got the creative mojo going it’s off to the sketchbook. Others head straight to the computer and the digital art board.  With a blank art board you start envisioning how the pieces will align together. You start with the main message. How do I make sure this draws them in? Does a graphic need to visually point to it? What about where their eyes travel after they see it?  (Did you know, that visually you could make someone leave your artwork and end up not readying the rest of the message?)

Ok, we’ve got the #1 message looking good. Now you’re onto aligning the rest of the art puzzle making sure all the information the client needs potential buyers to see is set up to have a visual pecking order. The first proof is almost ready. The artist loves the look, they think it matches the client’s look and speaks directly to the demographic the client is going after.

Now print it out, take a step back and give it a good once over. Is anything too crowded? Alignments look good? Is it too blocky? Too loose? After some minor tweaks it’s off to the account rep.

They review per the client’s request, make any tweaks, changes, or the dreaded…start over. It happens, sometimes that inspiration we found didn’t lineup with what we thought was first described…back to doing more research. That’s one of the MANY reasons the account rep is there for- to make sure we get it right before the client sees it.

It’s proofed again, and off for client review…phew, just a day in the life of a creative.

– Eric Gwatney