A graphic designer’s value is dependent on clients’ design literacy

I empathize with clients in search of a graphic designer for their very first time.

It goes without saying that the prospect would have had never worked with a graphic designer before and they’d be in need of, say, a logo designed for their business.

All that most prospects would know by then is generally these two points; they need someone to design a logo for them and that development of of logos is said to be part of a graphic designer’s job description, and that’s about it.

The relationship between a client and a graphic designer should be a mutually beneficial partnership, the client gets their visual communications challenge solved and the graphic designer would have found someone to sponsor their expertise, thus, they’ve been able to put food on the table.

Drum roll …now enters my scrutiny.

Regardless of how great a designer is, their greatness is futile unless it is acknowledged by those that the designer exist to serve, the clients.

I’d like to believe clients have no problem in acknowledging greatness where it exist, especially if that greatness can be employed to solve their business’s visual communication challenges.
A pill that is capable shedding off a few kilos, is only as valuable as an overweight person’s take on it.

I’m certain (well, almost) that we all agree that a condom is a very valuable ‘tool’ or rather a rubber sheath that covers the tool, which ever way you prefer to look at it, but unless a sexually active person is aware of impotence of a condom, the condom is then useless, it will just have the potential to be useful.

Ok, enough analogies for the day.

Though it is not the acknowledging that gives something value, as the value would have been there already, a valuable thing that is not acknowledged fail to realize its purpose or full potential.

A typical client’s knowledge on graphic design is minimal yet in almost all cases they’re responsible for the hunting and hiring of a graphic designer.

So in a way, as a designer, you spend years studying and working on your craft to be judged by someone who is probably thinking design for the first time ever in their lives.
…with that very little design knowledge, a knowledgeable designer’s worth is predetermined.

Fortunately, for medical doctors the opposite occurs. When a disease or condition surfaces the patient gives the doctor carte blanche as to how to cure them. Again, I suspect this could be that the thought of death is more terrifying than the thought of a design project failing.

Inevitably, this lead to situations where a graphic designer’s advice or proposed design solution carrying almost no weight.

I’ve recently had to let go of a client’s project because I had an opposing take on the design solution that the client demanded, I could’ve easily kept quite, did as I was ordered, cared less so long as I get paid — but profit isn’t the primary reason I’m a graphic designer.

Actually, I don’t even see myself as a business person. I’m just someone who doesn’t offer their expertise for free.

While it is sad to see a prospect disappear because, either, they don’t want to invest the amount of money that you quoted for their project or simply because they can’t afford you, nothing is more disturbing than a client that afforded what you charged but they refuse to let your expertise take the front seat.

I’ve observed a few reasons for such situations, it is usually clients who feel that their authority needs to be felt because they parted ways with their hard earned money, some cases it’s nothing but a client who fails to let go of their personal preferances to choose what is best for their business.
A business and its owner(s) are not one, therefore, a client’s obsession with the colour pink shouldn’t dictate that everything designed for their company should drown in pink.

When a designer quotes for a project, that includes their entire thinking capabilities and skills, so why should only a tiny part of their expertise be used, especially if more is actually needed by the project at hand?

I have had my fair share of ideal clients, that’s businesses and individuals that allow a graphic designer’s expertise and experience to be of use, while they also contribute to the design solution. That’s the best clients to work with.

And then you find clients that make you feel like just the guy who knows his way around a design software.

You’d expect the fact that you’re more knowledgeable in your expertise than the client would work in your favour but I doesn’t.

Instead your value is gauged by the client’s minimal knowledge on the subject.

Are the skills of designers that do only client work still of use if clients see them skills as nonessential?