A couple of months ago I wrote some posts trying to really focus on the importance on visual direction,
be it from inspiration images or descriptions + feedback. You can read them here + here and here.
But the time has come to discuss the importance of a tiny but very necessary step: the questionnaire.
When I first started working with Flosites so many moons ago, the process was very simple, I received a filled out form, looked it over, clicked on the different examples, and then collected ideas off of what I had seen and read. While we definitely have beefed up our beginning stages of information collection, the base of that information is still true. We need information in order to develop any sort of concept for a brand, blog, calendar, best teacher award mug- whatever. It has to come from somewhere, and where it comes from is the questionnaire.
Filling out these questions may be difficult at first- but figuring out the answers to the questions being asked will prepare you for the open ended questions involved in the branding/design process. In the worst of the worst case scenarios, I’ve had clients respond to questions with “This is so hard…” and while this approach may show the personality of the client as irreverent and humorous, it is also an indicator that the client will be unable to relay the information as needed and therefore the experience could very well be a bumpy one.
Without hearing the first person experience, we can only make guesses as to what the right approach, look + feel, even the correct course of action that should be taken. And while these may be guesses with the gut instinct of experience, every client is unique in their needs and expectations! You can see why we push for answers at every turn.
If you find yourself in front of a lengthy form with questions that make you wish you had a ‘forward to’ option in your brain – there are some ways to deal:
1. Write about yourself in third person
Create a glorious review as a bride you recently met with, a couple you recently photographed, how would they describe you? How would they describe working with you? Imagining you from the outside perspective is a great way to fine tune your professional demeanor, and it will give you a more detached approach to writing about something so heartfelt and personal as your goals and ambitions as a business.
(Small tip, this also works in terms of interviews!)
2. Talk it out
Get in a place where you can blab out loud without the fear of being judged as a crazy person. Hearing yourself speak about the goals, desires, and how you wish to be perceived will help you break the ice in terms of being inhibited about speaking about yourself in a proud and determined way. It is allright to say one over the other (whatever we are currently defining in this instance, that is) for the purpose of branding, one has to be decisive! Before the branding process it can be all things at any given time, but it is through the framing of the individual’s tastes that things begin to become refined, and decisions must be made. Talking it out may help you bring that decision making skill to the forefront.
3. Ask around
When I have a dilemma surrounding a choice and I have thoroughly explored talking to myself (I have no qualms about being viewed as a wackadoo), writing it out, or yoga-ing to my great answer place, I send it off to be discussed and dissected by those I love.
My friends and colleagues have no problems sharing their opinions, and likewise I would never hold back one of my own to share with them. What I love about getting others opinion and feedback is I get to counter in all of the perspective I would never have noticed, this makes me feel more “well rounded”, and that I have considered all of the options- and not just the ones I was currently swamped with.
This option encompasses the other two I mentioned, but I saved it for last to bring up an important point: While other peoples opinions are great and absolutely valid for success in a global market, it is the most important thing that you choose the direction that best suits you, and most assuredly NOT to appease others; be it your mother, best friend, or even your pushy designer that wants your opinions.
3.5/Maybe 4. Ask Questions Too!
What I always find funny with clients is the idea that branding/design is a one way street. While in design school this may have been the naive designer’s dream, I think it’s a fascinating reaction. If I have a question about something (like let’s say, I don’t understand what the client is wanting) I turn around and say “Hey! I don’t understand this! Let’s talk it out”.
The receiving side of this also has the same privilege! Instead of sending something half completed, email the sender with the issue. “I am working on ____ and I really got stuck with ____, can we talk about this?” Reaching out when there is a disconnect ––be it between client and designer, photographer and bride, contractor and internet man, is always going to allow the two people with the issue to come to a middle ground to help work it out.
We learned it in grade school, there are NO stupid questions and the same is true for adulthood.
I hope that I helped calm some of the overwhelming confusion and fears when asked to think about personal things in an objective way, but getting through this learning curve will only strengthen your ability to be direct in your communication, leading to more success and an awareness that can help attract the specific clients you are wanting to work with.
Until next time!