The other day I received a phone call, someone asking if we could craft and emboss three boxes in stainless steel. My first question was, “Why stainless steel?”The client, representing a wealth management firm, liked the look and feel of metal, but she didn’t realize that metal is extremely expensive to emboss. After further discussion, she could see that more suitable and far less costly materials would serve the purpose, and more importantly, would enhance the message to be conveyed. Material often speaks louder than words.
As suppliers to the design industry, shops specializing in boutique finishing processes are keenly aware that impact matters, and getting invited to the table early in a project’s development always proves to be beneficial to the designer, the client and the final product.
Too often I’ve run into situations where the vision for what a client or designer has in mind doesn’t match the reality of what can be done. Unfortunately, in the communication design industry there is a lot of miscommunication and non-communication when it comes to the production process. Timelines routinely get crunched, and as we’ve all come know, nothing can be substituted for time. However, delays can be avoided by gaining knowledge up front. The only protection against missteps is when every team member—at every stage in the production process from idea conception to final product—takes responsibility for her part and shares her expertise early.
Complex multi-dimensional graphic design projects, like other construction-based arts including product design, architecture and fashion, rely on two-dimensional plans and three-dimensional prototypes in the early stages to truly envision what the final product will look like and how it can most effectively be produced.
Selling ideas to clients is often where projects begin, but a great digital rendering is still not the final physical object. Build (and pay for) a prototype! A picture may be worth a thousand words—but something tangible is worth even more in terms of meeting expectations and enabling partners to get inside each others’ minds.
Get all partners involved early, learn the limitations, consider alternatives and adjust expectations and budget parameters. The convenience of smartphone photos and Skype enables everyone to see the materials and ideas at hand remotely if necessary. Visualizing challenges early on, for small or large-scale projects, will save everyone in the end. In many cases, running your creative vision right through the production phases, including finishing/binding specialists (who have seen it all) will prompt a rethink of how a project should be set up from the very beginning. Allow this process to inform your design decisions.
For example, a job recently came to us printed and—our client thought—ready to be diecut. But the design had some delicate curves and cutouts and, with the paper already chosen and printed, could only be lasercut—a much more expensive and time-consuming alternative. With some earlier consultation and a few tweaks to the design the cost to the client would have been 60 percent less and the job could have been delivered one week sooner.
Instead of stainless steel boxes, our wealth management client ultimately selected a high-quality leather finish that was much more easily embossed and also allowed for more detailed artwork.
The new choice of material for the presentation boxes was also more effective at conveying the firm’s rich expertise and enduring success in investing.
Other upsides to their selection involved both cost and time—the leather boxes cost one-quarter of the metal option, and we were able to craft the boxes in half the time. Needless to say, the client was thrilled with this news and we were happy to have been called in so early in the decision process.