How to keep your client from swiping left.

Are you full of shit?

Do you sit down, soak in the latest work on Brand New, and then crank out 100 sweet looking logos? If so — congratulations, you’re full of shit. Your work might look great on dribbble but you may as well go work for If you don’t want to be full of shit, then you have to do your homework. There’s no avoiding it.

Illustration by Jason Bacher

Here’s a few simple tips to avoid being full of shit. (and remember, simple is never easy)

1. Understand the value you bring to your client
Knowing is not enough. You have to understand at a deep level what your expertise can contribute to the business of your client. The majority of designers know design can positively impact a business, but few really understand the why and how behind it, even less have the wisdom to put it into practice.

2. Communicate that value
If you can’t communicate how your expertise can affect the bottom line of your clients’ business, then don’t be surprised when they see you as a pixel pusher, make dumb requests, and let their secretary with an associates degree dictate your next round of changes. It’s your fucking fault, not theirs.

3. Do your fucking research
You will likely never understand your client’s business as well as they do — but you should try. And the only way you’ll get close is by doing your research. Learn about their industry, competitors, what keeps them up at night, and how they like their coffee. The better you can do this, the more they will see you as a strategic partner and less of a disposable vendor (who’s full of shit).

4. Use your fucking research
Do you even use your research bro? It can be tempting to ignore all of that hard work you did upfront and go rogue. But — No, you know better! You don’t want to both be full of shit and have wasted your time. It’s certainly not easy, but that research was done for a reason and it needs to frame the direction of your project. Use it, your future self will thank you.

5. Show your fucking research
If you’ve followed through with the above advice, then the last thing you want is for your client to think you’re full of shit. So connect the dots for them. Don’t show them a 10 variations of a project and ask them which one they like best. Show how your research is directly related to the solutions and make a recommendation based on your expertise. You are the expert after all.

Your work might look great, perhaps you even got the client to approve it, maybe it even graced the heralded pages of Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual, but if you’re really honest with yourself, did you do your homework — Are you full of shit?

For more reading about this subject, GFDA recommends:

Design Currency: Understand, Define, and Promote the Value of Your Design Work
by: Jenn and Ken Visocky O’Grady.

The Strategic Designer: Tools & Techniques for Managing the Design Process
by: David Holston — Authors of “Do the F*cking Work: Lowbrow Advice for High-Level Creativity” Follow us on IG @GoodDsgnAdvice — Authors of “Do the F*cking Work: Lowbrow Advice for High-Level Creativity” Follow us on IG @GoodDsgnAdvice