Process: The Corner of Spray Cheese and Design

Tad  Dobbs explains why the “secret” in the secret sauce is your path to success.

The word “process” may conjure up thoughts of gag-inducing processed cheese or the mediocre taste of a fast food burger. While it’s true that process has helped the brands in these industries deliver sub par products for an amazing profit, their processes have also allowed them to build brand juggernauts. Is it possible to use the idea of definable processes for good? In the graphic design industry where so much of what we do is subjective, developing a solid process can mean the difference between just surviving and making a name for yourself.

Repeat with Consistency
Contrary to what you may think, clients don’t come to you because of the things you’ve made. That’s not to say that the highly creative campaigns you’ve worked on don’t matter, but the truth is clients take a risk every time they hire you to develop marketing material, visual identity design or whatever your area of creative expertise. Your ability to connect to a target audience in a meaningful way can mean the difference in a promotion or a pink slip for your client. Consistency in your solutions is the key to gaining new clients and maintaining them. Without a process for developing brand product names or designing logos predicting the outcome of the final solution is nearly impossible.

Break Down the Walls
Though you’re in a creative field it doesn’t always mean that the solutions come easily. Any great breakthrough comes with at least one agonizing phase full of self-doubt and frustration. By creating and following a process that works, you’ll easily break through the walls that can bring your creative flow to a halt. A process helps to keep the inner critic at bay when he’s not needed allowing you to explore and discover solutions unfettered. It also allows you to unleash the critic at the right time making your concept much stronger. The knowledge that your methods have worked in the past can help you push past to the “a-ha” moment every creative longs for.

Define Your Secret Sauce
The core of successful marketing is understanding your point of differentiation. — your secret sauce. We preach the concept to all of our clients yet it is one of the least practiced ideas in self-promotional marketing. A well-documented process is your secret sauce. Clients and even employers want to see how you do what you do. It instills confidence and let’s them know that you’ve been doing this awhile and you’ve figured out your methods for success. By documenting your creative process you’ll easily be able to walk prospects and new clients through the steps to success. You’re not selling a solution to a client, you’re selling the comfort that you have a proven method to deliver exactly what they need in the least painful manner. The solution is just the take-away from the journey you take them on.

Start by building a process from your past successes. The best processes will define your steps and methods without constraining your creative flow or exploration. Focus on the key services that you offer, and document your methods to begin constructing definable, and repeatable processes that will make every project easier. A well-documented process will not only win you better business, but it will bring you and your clients the peace of mind that comes with always delivering the best design solutions.

Tad Dobbs, Principal and Creative Director at Creative Squall, has over 16 years of experience in the design, promotions and advertising industries. Tad has created brand packages for B2B and B2C markets in industries ranging from food & beverage, music & entertainment, health care, wireless communications, and business services. He has been featured in HOW magazine and has won numerous awards including 10 Addy’s and 3 MarCom Awards.


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