What Do You Really Need: A Designer or A Partner?

A few years ago, I decided I’d never work with a graphic designer again. What?! You say, “But aren’t you a graphic designer?” Let me explain.

Here’s how it all went down: I was working as a marketing director, part of my role being middle-man style coordination between business strategy and the creatives. You know, so the business people didn’t need to speak in HTML or anything crazy like that. A huge opportunity came along for the business and we needed to act fast. I whipped up a basic outline of what I was looking to create, explained my vision to the graphic designer I was assigned to work with, and waited.

What did I get back? The designer took my Word file, added a few pictures, and that was it. Womp womp. There was no internalizing of the message, considering the audience, or most importantly and most basically – creativity. It was disappointing and a huge set back to the project.

That day I decided I was only going to work with people who could bring creative and thoughtful strategy to the execution of projects, and that’s what I wanted to become: a creative partner.

We use that term, creative partner, a lot here at Raven Creative. We prefer that title to “graphic designer” or “web designer” because we think it better defines the role we take on for our clients.

Ideally, in the situation I described above, a creative partner would be collaborating with me from the beginning, understanding the project’s goals, audiences, and strategies, and mixing those with his or her own expertise in design.

But how else does a creative partner differ from a designer? And is there ever a time to use “just” a designer?

When Designers Are Great

Sometimes, we just need to get stuff done. Maybe there’s a template in place, and you just need a Photoshop Whiz to create 100 social media graphics for your team to use. A task-based designer is your guy…or gal.

Or, you’ve got a very clear idea already in your mind, and you know that you simply don’t want input from an outsider – finding a designer who can put the finishing touches on your sketch or bring your particular idea to life is what you need.

But what about those times where you don’t have a clear picture of what you want or need? Or when you need something original, that translates business strategy into unique and original visual communications?

That’s when you need a Creative Partner.

Why You Really Want a Creative Partner

Creative partners start at the beginning – we look to gain a deep understanding of your business or project goals and objectives before moving the mouse one inch. We help you work through your communications strategy, and then ensure that we’re bringing that strategy to life through creative execution.

Creative partners care about your business and helping you grow it, so we’ll often color outside the lines a little bit, where it makes sense.

For example, many of our projects begin with a request for a specific “thing” – a logo or a simple website, perhaps. But after Q&A sessions and strategy discussions with our clients, those projects grow into a broader campaign or lead generation strategy that actually contributes to the bottom line.

Creative partners extend your knowledge base. While we work with a pretty diverse set of clients, they often share the same set of challenges. Building awareness in a cluttered market; generating qualified, sales-ready leads; having way too much to do and not nearly enough time to “master” it all; nearly every client we work with struggles with these same obstacles!

Creative partners are motivated by helping you find solutions to those barriers within our area of expertise. We help you extend your business’ knowledge base overnight, by partnering with you to create solutions, not just more stuff.

I’m actually quite thankful to the designer I mentioned in my little story above. Her actions motivated me to think about my business and the level of service I wanted to offer my clients in a new and refreshing way. She has no idea, but she totally changed my life.