Make it more edgy

Recently in Perth over a coffee I caught up with Marcus Taylor from Studio Papa and the conversation as always turned to clients and their foibles. We both agreed the client to be wary of is the one who says ‘make it a bit more edgy’.

This conversation got me thinking about how to deal with these types of clients. The answer is to get the client to see design as a business tool rather than decoration.

I think this belongs in the stage before briefing.

Most designers will do a type of discovery before starting a project. In the past this was a ‘hidden’ part of the concept/design development phase. Nowadays it’s a fee-based service often delivered as a workshop.

Customer journey maps

One approach to discovery is the customer journey map followed by a service blueprint.

I’ve used customer journey mapping with a lot of designers because it removes the subjectivity and lets the customer tell the client where the issues are.

Here’s how I have explained customer journey mapping in a LinkedIn article.

Service blueprints

A service blueprint takes the customer journey mapping to another level. It’s ideal for designers because it visualises the relationships between service users, digital and physical touchpoints, and service employees, including the front office activities that impact the customer directly, and the backstage activities that the customer does not see.

Service blueprints are a basic tool in service design which is based on the 5 Ps: People, Processes, Props, Partners, and Place.

In a typical service blueprint you will have 5 channels covering the 5 Ps:

  1. The physical evidence. Anything that a customer can see, hear, smell or touch belongs in this channel.
  2. The customer’s actions. What does a customer have to do to use the service at each touchpoint?
  3. The front office. The activities, people and physical evidence that a customer will be able to see before, during and after the service has been sold.
  4. The back office. The activities, people and physical evidence necessary to deliver the service but the customer cannot see or interact with directly.
  5. Supporting actions. Anything that supports the service without being unique to the service.

Analysing and visualising these channels will give a solid brief for a range of design projects, from branding to producing communication collateral and digital assets.

This is a very good overview of the process.

Taking this approach forces a client to see the designer as a business partner.

And clients aren’t asking for something more edgy because they now see design as a business tool not a piece of decoration.


Got a question? Want to share your point of view? Please feel free to email me.

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