Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter will know that I have recently been despairing at the way some companies communicate with their customers and prospective customers. I am saddened, and sometimes angered, by poor communication. I think of how much better it could have been if the sender had thought for a moment and reviewed what they were about to do.
This is a subject I’ve been considering a lot lately. I think the issue is authenticity.
I have learned the hard way over the years to be authentic. By that I mean to show clients who I am and what I stand for. I am not going to try to pretend to be someone else. The work I produce and my work ethos I take 100% seriously; the rest of life I do not. You’ll see from my Twitter feed that I swear a bit, rant a bit, talk in LOLcat sometimes, laugh a lot, and discuss and debate new ideas with people. That is who I am. I used to be afraid of showing myself – I used to think clients would want something else. Something more normal (whatever that means). Which is silly, because clients who want someone creative are expecting that person, that one who thinks along strange lines, to be – how shall we say? expressive.
If you are not trying to get to know your clients – if you just want to take their money from them – you will behave in strange ways
Thinking along these lines enables you to see your clients as not just clients. You encourage the authenticity in them too. This is important, because if they cannot show you who they are, you are not going to see them and be able to give them what they want, which in my case, is sort of to reveal – to enable the revealing – of the visual dimension of whatever they are trying to communicate.
Thus, talking in LOLcat once in a while makes me a better designer. QED.
But seriously (SRSLY), let’s take this step one further. If you are not trying to get to know your clients, if you are not interested in their authenticity, if you just want to take their money from them, you will behave in strange ways. You might sign them up to your newsletter or marketing crap without calling and asking first (this is illegal in the UK, by the way), in the assumption that they actually care about what you’re selling. No, they won’t care, they’ll think you rude, and they may well report you to the Information Commissioner’s Office for spamming. You might treat them badly because they’re leaving your services. You might forget that word-of-mouth is probably the most important marketing tool you have, and that your reputation is possibly your greatest asset, and that annoying the fuck out of people damages both of these.
Be yourself, and communicate from yourself, not from some made-up droid you think your clients want (because those are not the droids they’re looking for). And don’t treat them like droids either. Sure, create a logo and a brand which reflects the market position you’d like to occupy. Be aspirational. But make sure it’s still you, albeit a dead fancy and successful you. Because, well, I probably don’t know you, but I’m pretty sure you’re just fine the way you are.