Curating Content for Design Communication: Do's and Dont's
Design most often is not considered a business.
Tanya Khanna, Founder, Epistle Communications
Design most often, is not considered a business.
In today’s globalised world, markets are in constant motion and new business can be generated from multiple means. Design education and the industry at large inherently trains to let ‘the design portoflio’ speak for itself.
Stuck in the everyday rut of work, meetings, deadlines and ensuring the deliverance of good design, often we do not tap into our business strengths and how that can be a path to growth and success. While good design does speak for itself, most professionals shy away, or simply do not bother to talk about their work and the ideas behind it.
Of course, good design is fundamental to good business, but in the current scenario of technology and information overload, originality, innovation, and creativity are simply lost in the deluge of the data that is produced globally.
Traditionally, most Indian designers and design practices steer away from communication activities that aid in generating business. In fact, we do not recognize that in this world of increasing competition, the success of a firm can simply be hinged on design communication. It is hence crucial to enhance visibility in a framework that follows global standards.
This, of course, is driven by the curation of content, and communication as a result. The premise of communication activity begins with the intention for discourse, dialogue, and exchange of design ideas- which is driven by the curation of content to suit the various forms of media outreach.
Success finds its way through this means of design discourse by communicating various media - Designers communicate their thought processes and how their designs are representative of their intentions. Ultimately, this has explicit impact on the evolution of contemporary Indian Design.
Plan: Have a plan. Designers shy away from words such as strategy, brand recall and brand differentiation- if integrated with the process of design; these can directly translate into creating strategic communication material by showcasing work in appropriate and relevant forums.
Having a plan is not a bad idea after all- it helps you focus your outreach on the kind of business you want to attract in the long run.
Perception: As designers and allied professionals, your work speaks for itself. However, the process of getting new business often relies more on how your work is perceived rather than the value it actually represents.
Representing work across various media must be executed with the intent of how the portfolio is being perceived by the audience, how the reader understands the work. New business comes from a better understanding and value perception of services.
Visibility: The biggest barrier to growth and success for design firms is rarely creativity. Securing visibility for good work greatly helps in fostering public appreciation and communication is vital in this regard.
While word of mouth is the conventional way to attract work, sustained visibility is essential to establish credibility amongst the trade, enables better discourse/engagement, whilst significantly improving future prospects. It is however critical to distinguish between simple PR and Communications; stories can be easily created, but it is imperative to lay emphasis on communicating design- purely based on process and the strength of design intent.
Housekeeping: For most designers and design firms, communication activities are essentially housekeeping. There is usually no dearth of content and all that is required is curation. The projects are all on file, the drawings/photographs are usually available.
As much as this is a perceived as a chore, simple processes can enable extraction of content, cleaning it up in order for it to be of communicable quality and curated. Easy processes is all that it takes to implement the same.
Be Unique and Be Known©: There is no manual or set guidelines that can enable an effective communications plan. Each individual and design studio is unique with a distinct design ethos and an inimitable style and approach.
The work must resonate the ethos, and of course capture the essence of who the designer/firm is. What is critical is to ascertain what that uniqueness is, and utilize it as both the means and end of a communication plan.
To keep pace with rapidly changing practices and be at par with new values of the global economy, it is important to step back and innovate. What is imperative for both new, young firms and for those who are established is the identification of the right strategy, and an apt approach; A simple, ingenuous strategy with a strong vision and a deep commitment to the future of design will surely lead the right way.
The fundamental key- is of course is to ‘Be creative’. Communication will only help you ‘Be Known©’.
Tanya Khanna, Founder, Epistle Communications