A LOOK AT WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
I could go on and on about why you need marketing and how it affects the world and the consumer and blah blah blah. But that’s not the purpose of this article. I think we all know what we, a marketing and creative agency, do and how it affects people’s everyday lives. But have you ever wondered how it affects us, the marketing agency? Well, let me tell you.
For many years now, I’ve been designing various marketing materials for companies, everything from logos, to brochures to websites. After graduating from The Art Institute, I was super excited to get my first freelance gig. The US Women’s Open being held at Oakmont Country Club needed help with some handouts and banner graphics they would use to get the word out at events and such. It was a great first client to put in my portfolio and gave me hope that maybe going the freelance route was going to work for me.
One day my roommate and I were driving on the turnpike and pulled up to a tollbooth in Monroeville. My roommate turned to me and said, “Aren’t those the handouts you designed?” I looked over, and there in a little plastic container (just like those you see at gas stations with pamphlets saying how much money you could save on gas by applying for their credit card) was my work... my first professional job as a graphic designer. I felt like a rock star, thinking that thousands of people drive through these booths every day and could possibly see something that I created.
Something similar happened another time when I was driving home from a Pirate game and sitting in traffic. I gazed out the window and saw a large white vehicle pull up next to me. On the side was the red, white and blue logo that I had recently designed. A sense of pride fell over me, knowing that not only did I design a logo that will be driving all around Pittsburgh, but that I helped a company with a great cause, providing military veterans and their families jobs. Yinz may know that company as VETaxi.
For the next few years, it was exciting to think that people everyday were seeing my hard work and designs all over the world. Something that you spent hours, days, if not weeks putting together is now out there, on tables at conferences, on the sides of buildings and in people’s homes. It gives you a feeling of purpose, that what you’re doing is providing someone with a positive experience for your client.
The obvious goal is to produce something that will provide that client the opportunity to grow their business and ultimately make them money. So you want them to like the ideas and concepts that you come up with and provide to them. If you’re a designer, you’ve had those moments when you’ve designed something that you’re super thrilled about. An idea and vision that came together so well that when you send it to the client, you’re waiting in anticipation to hear back and see if they share that same delight, that same childish enthusiasm that you felt when you sent them the email. Sometimes they do, and you’re both super pumped to get the piece out.
But there are those times, where you’ve sent them various concepts/designs, but really you have that favorite piece that you’re significantly hopeful that they decide to use…but they don’t. They go with another piece that you didn’t feel so strong about.
You’re almost heartbroken. You want to just be like “Naw, sorry, let’s just go with this one because I really wanted you to use this one so we’re going to use this one!” As a designer, you can give your opinion and advice to the client and try to steer them in the right direction, but ultimately it’s their decision. It’s their company, their money, their baby.
After awhile you tend to become numb to some of those moments that gave you adrenaline in the beginning of your career. You’ve created so many layouts, so many concept designs, that you just get into a groove. Design…send…revise…send…invoice. Design…send…revise…send…invoice. You could lose track of that feeling of creativity. Where one project inspired you to create something even more stimulating than the last. You start to become distant from your work. You’re now just going through the steps like you’re a lifeless machine.
Then it happens…
It comes in the form of an email from a client you sent designs to a couple days ago. It was just another routine job, another design, nothing special. And then you read their response.
You’re reading the email and begin to feel overwhelmed. You’re suddenly reminded of why you’re doing what you’re doing. What was just a simple logo design has now become something more to someone else. You become more and more humbled with every line that you read.
The emotions that you unknowingly provided your client are now being transferred through the words on your monitor and hitting you square in the feelings. They describe to you how thrilled they are about the design you sent. It’s giving them so much excitement and hope for their company that you in turn get lost in those same emotions and it makes you feel accomplished and honored that you were able to help someone out in such a way.
That simple email becomes a reminder that what we’re doing is not only providing a service for our clients, but we’re providing so much more for them and their clients, customers, and possibly even their families. The things we produce provoke emotions and reactions for and by people that is far greater than the monetary value that we’ve put in an invoice. For our clients, it could be that hope that the business that they’ve worked so hard to build is finally going in the right direction. What once was a mere vision or idea is now becoming a reality. It could mean that the business that may have once been hurting, will still be able to provide for the family that it depends upon.
When Mike and I first started this company, these were the things we wanted to do for our clients. One of our first projects was for a client that had just started a business of her own in Delaware. She was not only a new entrepreneur, she was also a hard working military wife and mother who had been leading the stressful military lifestyle of moving from base to base. Always having to start over in a new, unfamiliar city.
She was finally able to settle down in Delaware and wanted to grow the startup cleaning service company that she had created for her and other military wives she had become acquaintances with and employed. She was killing it but felt she needed to take it to the next level. We started by creating a logo and then moved on to creating her website. It took about a week and a half to get everything up and running, and when it was finished, I sent her an email letting her know that her company now has its first live website!
An hour and a half later, I received a reply in my inbox. The first sentence read “No lie, that just made my day.” She continued to explain how she had been having a very rough day. She had been having some trouble with a few disgruntled clients along with some former employees.
On top of all of that, her husband was currently stuck in Afghanistan and was unable to come home to her and their two daughters. She described that when she saw the website, it almost brought her to tears. Everything she was going through, all the anxiety of work, those concerns and stresses all vanished and transformed into pure bliss and enthusiasm.
A simple 11-page website made her forget about all of the struggles and negatives going on that day and gave her a sense of hope. It turned what once felt like a day she wanted to just forget ever happened, into a day that may have had a profound positive impact on her business and possibly, in turn, her and her families lives.
And that is why we do what we do.