Ouch! Once they recovered, we asked some passionate members of the Green Hat Design team – Liam Jeal, Senior Designer, Rochelle Sanko, Creative Director, and Amanda Restovic, Designer – a few of the burning questions we’ve always wanted to know about the B2B design process.
What comes first: creative or content?
Rochelle (CD): I believe it’s both. Think togetherness. Getting to the heart of the communication problem comes first. Solving it requires the shared talent of creative ideas and the unique words your business uses to connect to your audience. It’s a very successful communications team if the creatives can write and the writers can think with pictures. A creative and writer should be in the room together. We suffer from FOMO, so I highly recommend easing the pain and briefing us together – the synergy can be remarkably effective. Fortunately, at Green Hat, we work this way and we are within reach of one another.
Liam (SD): It depends on how you define content and, to an extent, creative. How do you put parameters around where each starts and finishes? First off, what is content? Can words be creative without being content? I would say they can. I think content and words can be separated. But in saying that, content can (and hopefully is) creative. So which comes first? Excellent question! I’d say neither and both. Don’t try to separate them, work together and get the benefits of both.
Amanda (D): Both are equal and work best together, but it also depends on the project. Personally, I think the final content is best first so that the design can accommodate everything. Sometimes, creative is required first. Always, they need to work together, whichever comes first.
What is your main source of information?
Rochelle (CD): No one main source. I love Instagram and Muzli, but mostly, I’m inspired by words, joining unlike thoughts together, people-watching, scribbling, and listening to children talking.
Amanda (D): I always look at Pinterest, award websites (in particular, web design awards), and design-specific social media accounts. My overall source of inspiration is travel. I love visiting new places and seeing new forms of creativity in a different environment.
Liam (SD): My brain usually tells me what to do. The world we live in also has a massive effect. Other than that, books help. Oh, and Google.
How should design and creative work together?
Amanda (D): Design is solving the problem, and creative is the creation of the solution. They should work together.
Rochelle (CD): Creative is an outstanding and effective idea, and the design is how that idea is distinctively crafted, presented to the audience, and easily identified in alignment to your brand. When both are considered, it can be very effective.
How does a brief affect customer experience?
Liam (SD): A brief is the admittance of a problem, an issue or a change. The customer’s experience doesn’t end once a transaction has been made. In some ways, that’s only the beginning of your relationship. For example, take the experience of a train ride: the journey starts long before you get on the carriage, from the moment you wake up to get ready to leave, so all touchpoints should be taken into consideration. Public transport is an excellent example of the complete customer experience not being taken into consideration. Getting to and from the station is becoming a massive issue in Melbourne as our population grows and more and more people start using the service.
The customer’s experience doesn’t end once a transaction has been made.
The congestion around stations and trying to find parking, as well as limited reach and services, are a key part of the issue. In fact, it’s become such a problem that it’s become an election issue. So what seemed like an insignificant part (and originally overlooked part) of a customer’s journey now has significant momentum because of how it affects not just the customer’s journey, but also their lifestyle. This effect has enough consequence to potentially cause a change in government.
Amanda (D): If a brief does not include what is needed, and there is no consideration for customer experience, it will affect it in a negative way. If a brief is constraining, it can lend itself to a lower quality customer experience. But, the brief can also affect it in a positive way, if the right elements are included. It depends on the brief and the final outcome.
What is a good example of the value design can bring to B2B marketing?
Rochelle (CD): Brands need a strong visual consistency to remain front-of-mind with an audience – this takes a concerted eye to ensure both identity and design communicates effectively across the entire media journey. It’s worth taking the time to ensure the brand identity, design, layout, and user experience and pace are considered even for the smallest campaign. We know B2B has a longer lead-to-conversion rate than B2C, which is why these elements combined can greatly affect the credibility of a brand, and whether the intended audience chooses to click to reach your business. It’s important to surprise and delight. We are hearing about audience fatigue with “faster, smarter, easier, better and more innovative” falling on deaf ears. These direct messages no longer have the easiest cut-through. It’s time to be more distinctive, find new avenues, understand the audience in the moment, and present to them differently. More than ever before, print, digital and environmental must become more engaging and support one another.
If your message has the ability to evolve and communicate distinctively across media to an ever-changing audience appetite, you stand a good chance of standing out. Often the simplest way to get a message across is the most effective – distilling multiple messages into a compact format is where the hard graft and craft is.
Liam (SD): To me, the best example of good design is bad design. Nothing highlights the value of good design like when you see something that doesn’t communicate with you, you can’t read, you don’t understand, or even worse, you don’t even notice. Good design communicates, it inspires, it’s flexible and it creates value.
Amanda (D): Creating work that is visually engaging and easiest for the user to digest.
What is the ideal brief?
Amanda (D): A fully inclusive brief detailing everything that is needed to complete the task, such as final outcome, sizes, assets, final content, and time.
Rochelle (CD): Most written briefs provide the current situation and the ideal specific go-to-market delivery mechanisms believed effective to reach an audience. The most ideal brief is when I have the opportunity to ask why, what if, and really get to the core of the problem with a client. We define the persona, plot the journey and work with our clients to find a unique solution. It’s most often the ideal outcome for business.
Liam (SD): The ideal brief identifies a problem to solve with an open notebook and an open mind. Time is important. A big budget is also nice, but not mandatory.
What skills do you need for an effective creative team?
Liam (SD): A variety of skills that are not just creative. Creative is such a broad term; it can mean so many different things to different people. Team members with different skills and experiences can help create a diverse and well-balanced viewpoint. The common skills needed are more around thinking than practicalities. The ability to think laterally, to think strategically, to think analytically and, of course, creatively.
Rochelle (CD): Thinkers, listeners, tinkerers, battlers, crafters and do-ers.
Amanda (D): Time management and enthusiasm. It’s hard to complete a task if team members don’t want to work on it. Other skills, such as a good mixture of experience in all fields to fill any information gaps and get multiple perspectives, are important too. Overall, I think enthusiasm is most important.
Why do you ask so many questions?
Liam (SD): The right answer to the wrong question is still the wrong answer. Some people want answers before they have asked the question, while some people want to be the hero and save the day on a white horse. The ready-made answer is rarely the right solution. Asking questions helps to define the problem. The more questions we ask, the better understanding we have, and a lot of the time we ask questions which haven’t previously been considered and can prompt deeper thought:
- Why now?
- What’s the purpose?
- Why the change?
- Who is the audience?
- What results are we expecting?
Asking questions and listening to the answers is such a valuable skill because it forces us to justify why, and to frame it in an easy to understand way (and, ideally, remove all jargon – try explaining it to a seven-year-old).
Amanda (D): To find out the answer.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Liam (SD): Chickens are very sociable animals and don’t like being alone. I would imagine it would cross the road to join the rest of the flock. As they say, birds of a feather… but to properly answer this question I’d like to ask the chicken a few questions. 🙂
Rochelle (CD): I’m too chicken to answer. 😉
Amanda (D): To get to the other side.
Feel you have a burning question you’ve always wanted to ask a creative? Ask away.
*Photo by Etienne Steenkamp on Unsplash