Seduction by designer

michael fanthorpeMark Fanthorpe of Umbrella dispenses sound advice on how to avoid being seduced by your designer.

A mistake that I often see up and coming brands make when developing shop fits is to put too much emphasis on creativity.

Here’s the thing…our ability to be creative means that we can make your dream a reality – but it is your vision that makes our designs successful.

In my experience, problems start because people who don’t necessarily see themselves as overly creative tend to give us arty folk way too much credit. Usually this is because they don’t really understand what we do, and don’t feel capable of doing it alone.

So they end up giving away creative control and allow themselves to be seduced by people who appear to know what they are talking about and seem to have their best interests at heart. In doing so, they risk losing touch with their own vision and the vital balance between creativity and what is going to work commercially.

The seduction process usually begins the moment you meet with someone from a design agency. They are extremely confident individuals whose ability to wax lyrical about colours, materials, textures and finishes is second to none!

Their eye is not on what is commercial but on winning awards that will bring in bigger and better clients with much larger budgets.

It’s also easy for some designers to get carried away by their own creative impulses or create an impossible dream for the client because they feel that is what they need to do to win the business.

This approach ultimately results in shop fits that are unnecessarily expensive to produce, inappropriate for the intended space or do not create the connection with the target market needed to deliver the desired commercial result.

History has taught me that the clients who get the best out of their design agency are those that have the clearest vision of what they want. These people will be the first to admit that putting pen to paper and translating what is in their heads onto the page is not their strong point. But that is why they come to us.

What they do have  is a very strong commercial sense of what is going to work. After all they will have already done a lot of the hard work. They’ll have developed their range, researched their customers; who they are and what they want. Most importantly they’ll have identified what their budget is.

It’s then our job to take all of these essential elements and use our creative powers to turn their vision into reality. We may suggest tweaks that help to create a uniqueness and individuality. Or if their budget doesn’t quite stretch to everything they want, we are there to provide solutions to make it work and offer best-case scenarios.

What we certainly don’t do is control the process. The client and their vision does.

This vision is where the commercial seeds are sown because the idea is informed by the research done into the target market. They should be having a commercial discussion from the outset, so that we can tailor our response to their objectives. The better our understanding of the commercial imperatives, the better our response will be.

Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get great results.