What is the big picture ?

Help clients to see the big picture. Without this goal is mind, projects will get more complicated than they need to be. We’ve all felt it at some point or the other. I find, that frustration, while working with a client on a project, doesn’t always boil down to money. It could be position, principle or even direction. I remember the first ever interaction I had with a client. We were discussing a project and reached the point where we were discussing financials. “Oh, that sounds  quite expensive”, he said. Having had very little experience in such matters at the time, I struggled to understand what the issue was. Couldn’t he see? Didn’t he realize that what he was asking for required a lot of work? I felt annoyed. I didn’t know what to say aside from “Oh”. “I know another person who can do this at 10 percent of your price” he said. Again, I was stumped. Who was this other person and how was he able to do it at such a low price.? Was I overcharging? Again, my response seemed less than convincing. It took me a long time to figure out why clients reacted this way and then, after much deliberation, I got my answer. The work I do, is not their domain of expertise. It sounds expensive to them because they aren’t of aware of the various steps and procedures involved. How could they be? I, myself, wasn’t able to articulate the value proposition properly.

Here I was, designing a logo and doing all these steps (subconsciously) – without realizing that there were actually multiple steps and processes involved. In other words, I had not been able to express the formal steps involved in this particular task – because as long as I understood those steps, that’s all that mattered. Therefore, in the clients mind, I was sitting with a pencil in hand and drawing things until I magically came up with a logo. How hard could that be? We all know it’s not that simple. Whether it be research based on industry, choice of colour, choice of what kind of logo to work with (logomark, emblem etc), fonts and putting it all together, it is a difficult process. However, none of that mattered to the client because his sister’s son’s best friend drew logos in his free time and was willing to design a logo for 2000 rupees.

Let’s be frank – being good at what you do is not enough. If being good at something was the only thing that determined success, a lot of people in the current music industry wouldn’t be as big as they are. I know. Harsh – but true! You need to help clients to see the big picture. The problem is, how can you do that if you can’t see the big picture yourself? Define your process. Break down each step when you propose your charges for a particular job so that a potential client knows that this cost is based off some kind of model and not just a random number thought up by you in an attempt to make money. Clients are human beings, too. If you wanted something done, started discussing it with a vendor and got a quote of 50,000 rupees, wouldn’t you want to know how they arrived at that cost? If you were to ask them and they just said “Well, that’s how much I charge!”, would you not be wary? What is the process involved? What is the objective standard based off? Do we have this information?

Define a process. For example, consider logo design. Do you have a process or do you just start designing straight away?