Posted In: Inspiration, Process

Creating a Value Based Design Business

The key to any business’s success is all about the value it creates. Same goes for employees, products, or any relationship. As designers, we often struggle in defining the value we create beyond “we can make it look nice” especially as more of our industry is commoditized by talented production artists and DYI platforms. Why should a client pay upwards of $10k for a “custom website” when a simple Squarespace site, or in some cases, a well-executed Facebook presence, can accomplish many of their business requirements for much less? Same can be said for logos, printed materials, on down the line.

We must be able to define and sell the value of our services and offerings if we expect to have any longevity as design professionals. It’s something I constantly am working towards, and too often, find myself back in that production/generalist mentality instead of narrowing my focus around the true value proposition that’s intrinsic to good design and strategy.

In his talk, designer Clayton Farr provides some much needed direction for creating a value based design business. A few of my key takeaways from what Clayton had to say:

As a business, you must decide what work you’re going to do, (just as importantly) what work you’re not going to do, for whom you’re going to do it, and why.

This is a daily struggle as a recovering “wandering generalist” who needs to pay the bills.

Become intensely appealing to a certain group.

How do we become the person who a friend recommends as “Just the guy/gal for the job”?

Clayton’s four principles for defining what you do and where you do it:

1. Think Beyond Money – What is the higher purpose – why do you exist?
2. Competencies – What are you uniquely qualified to do? Play to your strengths.
3. Who Are Your Customers? Is there a need and can you bring value to them?
4. Culture – What are your principles?

Finally, he has some excellent advice regarding pricing: Don’t negotiate costs, negotiate value.

Can I produce this for what it’s worth profitably? If it’s only worth X amount, but it takes you this much to produce it, it’s not a project you should take on. It’s not financially viable for you or anyone else.

View Clayton’s talk in it’s entirety above.

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