I use to take on clients needing a one-off project – website design, brochure, advertisements, etc. When I began my company you are in feast or famine mode. As I completed each one-off project I knew I wasn’t giving them exactly what they needed. I knew there needed to be greater understanding of their business before I started any project. That was when I created a detailed discovery questionnaire. I used this list of questions to gain a better understanding of their business. I needed to know their target demographics, goals, vision, values, etc. so that the messaging I was creating in their one-off project would sound, look and feel like their company.

This wasn’t enough

But I found that this wasn’t enough. After I completed their project and we parted ways, they would do other marketing – logo, ads, etc. and it didn’t work cohesively with the project I completed for them. The messaging would be wrong. The imagery would be off. The colours used were an afterthought. The brand was a mess.

That is when I told myself, I cannot leave a client in a situation like this anymore. It wasn’t their fault. They gave me the info I needed and I ran with it. I had all the data and the rest was locked in the owner’s head. Nothing was available to their employees, other designers, marketing companies and ad agencies they hired after me. So these contractors were left doing the same fact finding mission, I just did, with the owner. But by this time the owner might have forgotten all we talked about. So they give answers that are completely different. It’s not a good situation.

I had to look at myself

After my self-evaluation, I decided I would not leave a client in a bad place ever again. I needed to create a solid foundation for them so there was no more guesswork. Would you build a house without a foundation? You can’t. A company cannot engage in meaningful and impactful marketing without a brand developed. Otherwise, they are pissing their money away. Being preyed upon by shitty salesmen, agencies and studios who only care about padding their own wallets. I couldn’t let this happen to the companies I worked with. They were special. They had amazing stories and an amazing brand. My responsibility as a designer, brand builder and business owner is to make sure they are in a much better place after I have worked with them. Not a worse place.

A decision was made

That is when I decided that I will no longer do one-off projects for new clients. No matter how lucrative it may be. If they come to me asking for a website, I will recommend that we start at the beginning – their brand. If they don’t like it, I will refer them to someone else.

I need to sleep at night. I get emotionally invested in those I work with. I become loyal. I become their biggest advocate. Some might say this is a fault. I think it’s what makes me really good at what I do.

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