How does your job fit into the advertising process? I’m responsible for choosing the type of art used in advertising, product packaging design and brand activation campaigns, launching a new brand, or refreshing or rebranding a tired brand image.
For example, if you’re launching a new product that wants to target a specific consumer demographic, then you need to design the package and supporting advertising for that group of consumers. My job is to give the brand different graphic options to reach and attract those target consumers.
I work primarily on static photos and visuals with in-house photographers, illustrators and graphic designers. If the client doesn’t have a budget for a photoshot, then I work with an Art Buyer who works with image banks such as Getty images, Corbis, or Shutterstock.
When pitching ideas to a brand, an agency usually presents at least three ideas. Any less and the presentation seems poor, the client feels like you didn’t put enough time and thought into their needs and that they didn’t get their money’s worth. But on the contrary if you provide too many options or ideas, it might seem like the agency isn’t confident with their designs and the direction they want to go, which is also a waste of money on the agency’s part.
What are some misconceptions clients usually have about the work you do? Clients don’t always realize that there is an entire process involve behind-the-scenes before we present our final idea(s) to them. Some clients can have a difficult time paying for brainstorming and creation time they can neither touch nor feel, but in the end once we’ve presented them with a final tangible product that is specifically catered to theirs and their target consumer’s demands, that’s when brands are ready and willing to invest their money in it.
Another misconception is thinking that a little modification to an artwork would take only a minute. The general argument is “I could have done this on PowerPoint in less than a minute.” The client doesn’t realize that sometimes changing a little thing involves changing the whole artwork.
[EDITOR’S TRANSLATION: ‘The house is super, but you must move the window just 30 centimeters to the right.’ ‘So I have to redo the entire wall.’ ‘No, keep the wall, just move the window.’ ‘I always panic for nothing.’]
Sometimes we even have requests that are impossible like “could you rotate the person’s face 30°” without realizing that they are talking about a photograph, which would mean redoing an entirely new photoshoot.
The only way brands can avoid these problems in post-production is to anticipate every possible situation and have the photographer take the additional photos just in case or more effectively, present temporary artwork to the client during pre-production and only proceed to the shooting or illustration phase once everything has been approved.
A third dilemma is that with every most of the original briefs agencies receive, brands often want an idea that is absolutely revolutionary – the next big idea that really pushes the envelope and pushes the brand to the next level!
Fair enough. But as the campaign moves through the various stages (pre-prod, prod, post-prod…), the closer and closer to a finished product we get, coupled with consumer testing, and brands start to wonder if that ‘risky’ attitude outlined in the original brief slowly dissipates as the thought of “what if this risky idea actually ruins our brand!” starts to sink in.
If our advice runs contrary to what the client wants, we obviously provide what the client asked for, but we also include an example of how we suggest they should do it, that way they can compare and have a choice. But after that it’s the client’s choice that matters and he certainly has a good reason for his or her decision.
I want to save money by taking my own photos and then hiring a graphic designer to edit them… If you aren’t an experienced photographer and have neither the necessary camera nor the know-how to take the right photos of your product from the start, then I would honestly recommend paying the person you hire to handle those decisions for you. In the long run it will save you money and your finished work will look much better.
What are some typical questions you ask clients from the outset? That depends entirely on the brand’s objective(s). Sometimes the client may have a difficult time putting into words what they really want – and then there is the matter of distinguishing what they want and what they need.
When clients don’t really know what they want, our job is to present case studies of what their competitors have been doing or what other interesting campaigns have been going on around the world to elicit ideas to help the brand express what they want. This involves a bit of strategic planning.
Where do you go for inspiration? Pinterest is my image bank for finding specific photos relative to my client’s projects. For me, Pinterest is better than a general Google photo search because Pinterest is social so the best photos tend to rise to the top.
Don’t use the actual image, of course, because that would be a violation of the owner’s copyright. But use what you find as inspiration to create your own twist.
What are a few of your favorite packaging designs?
I want to do your job, any advice? A lot of graphic designers come from art school and have the expectation that they will create masterpieces, have their pieces showcased in MOMA and other exhibits around the world. If you want to make money, you should probably go into advertising or a similar service industry. If you want to do what you like and don’t care about money, become an artist and sell your own art.
Secondly, as a graphic designer and creative art director, your artistic decisions should benefit the client, not your artistic preferences. You can add your own artistic signature in the little details, but keep in mind you’re commissioned to do this project for a client.
I have a small advertising budget, any advice? For the initial brief, don’t go too much into detail. State what your end goal is for the campaign and then leave plenty of room for creative imagination.
“I want to launch my new product.” is a good starting point for a brief that we can work with.
“I want a campaign that uses the color green.” Well, why do you want green? Because green shows nature, organic, etc? Then “I want to show how my product is natural and organic” is a better brief that we can work with because there are thousands of better ways to show natural than by simply using the color green.
That being said, a brief objective of “I want to generate buzz” is too broad of an objective.
Lastly, get out there and promote yourself! People aren’t going to magically find you and give you money and promote you for free. You have to promote yourself – hand out flyers, advertise on facebook, etc. Create a community and promote sales and giveaways. A static website is useless when nobody knows you exist.
Inform yourself and understand the business and the industry you’re competing in.
A small business I once worked with had a ‘web designer’ walk into his newly-opened store and offer to create, maintain, house, and update his store’s website for 700€/month. The small business owner actually signed the contract thinking that the web was really important to attract consumers. I was shocked when I heard this because he refused to pay for the branding and identity work I did for him. This was a bad decision on money spending; his website received fewer visitors than a regular Facebook page typically would have.