Five Reasons Why Inhouse Designers Well Positioned to Effect Change

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in creative strategy, design | No Comments

Original Article is from AIGA:

Here’s a list of what Kimberley Parker sees as unique points for encouraging more In-house design studios:

1. In-house designers have direct access to decision makers.

As an in-house designer, you may find yourself working directly with higher-ups or even the owner of the company. This is a great opportunity to get to know them, ask questions and, in a respectful way, make suggestions. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, especially when asked. Present your point of view from a positive place—a place of opportunity—being careful not to complain. Decision-makers are often interested to know what their employees really think, and if you cultivate a relationship, they may even seek you out when they’re in need of an alternate point of view.

2. In-house designers are exposed to many facets of the business.

Often times, in-house designers’ most frequent professional collaborators are non-creatives from other departments. Becoming familiar with other parts of the business is not only an educational experience but gives you the breadth of knowledge and awareness needed to be a true problem solver. Look deeper and think bigger: take into consideration the broader goals of an initiative and the impact it could have on the organization as a whole. Use this information to make suggestions, present options and tailor your design solutions to exceed the expectations of the brief.

3. Non-design projects offer in-house designers a chance to showcase their strategic thinking abilities.

In-house designers are often asked to work on non-design projects. This presents a wonderful opportunity to stretch your strategic thinking skills and demonstrate the value of design thinking. The ability to generate multiple viable solutions to a problem is something we, as designers, do inherently—and something we can easily translate to non-design situations. Using these skills, especially on cross-functional projects, will make colleagues see you as a go-to problem solver. What better way to demonstrate the unique value a designer brings to the table?

4. Over time, in-house designers build a rich and intimate knowledge of the brand.

This knowledge gives in-house designers the ability to make informed judgments about what needs to change and what will stand the test of time. By developing a sixth sense about what “feels right” and what “feels wrong” in terms of the brand, you can become a respected adviser to others in the organization. Consider yourself a “brand ambassador” who is always working to protect the integrity of the brand and make the necessary improvements to stand out in the crowd.

5. Designers inherently understand change.

Not every organization has a culture that embraces change. But, as designers, we are often advocates for change, knowing that its effects can alter the course of a company for the better. Don’t get frustrated by those who fear it! Instead, help everyone see the benefits and opportunities that change can bring. This may mean making a mock-up, even if your collaborator is initially resistant, or self-initiating a project you think could make a real difference. Through support and patience, you can help others in your organization see that change and evolution are only natural and participate in driving the process.

Interesting that AIGA have specialised talks etc for in house designers – something that D&AD don’t seem to haven’t followed (I may be missing something), they’re more interested in designers as ‘individuals’, which is great in some ways,  but a bit hubristic in an other way: it can be bit of an icy ‘them and us’ relationship as no proper understanding gets built between client and creative.

At least the design council are nudging companies into embracing design thinking, but the danger is is that ‘design thinking’ or ‘creative strategy’ become the next numb office phrases like ‘silo’ etc.

At the end of the day the creative team and client need to  trust each other – an in house creative team should be able to straddle the differences and be able to keep adding unique perspectives to its company.

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