I built my career through on-the-job training over the last 20 years. Yes, I have a traditional “creative” direction/education and therefore have a strong foundation in best practices when it comes to things such as color, composition and concept. And when everything comes together correctly, it results in a well-crafted end product.
One of the things I've noticed during my two decades on the front lines is that there are varying degrees of quality when it comes to final deliverables. When it comes right down to it, people will judge your product, message or service by how they perceive the visual quality of its interlocking elements.
What does that mean to you as a social media or integrated marketing professional?
No matter how hard you try you will always fight “reality versus perception.” The better you look, the easier it is for your audience to gain trust and find alignment with what you say.
This also applies to your professional/personal branding of you as an individual. Most of the people who read this blog are in some way attached to other social media, advertising and or integrated marketing. Most of you understand the value of personal branding, and utilize social media as a delivery tool for your messaging.
- But what does that look like?
- Have you taken the time to develop a logo for yourself?
- What does that logo say not only about you as an individual but the services and expertise you provide?
- What story do you have to tell? Are you supporting that story visually against your social media channels?
- Have you taken the time to make sure your entire social graph is visually consistent as well as appealing?
- Are you taking the time to think of your social content distribution as tiny unique products? If so, what do each of them look like?
- And if you're not an accomplished graphic/web/UI/UX designer, are you taking on these visual responsibilities or finding someone who can do them properly for you?
There are very few people who understand each of these verticals in its totality. Graphic design is a defined discipline. Storytelling and concept development is a defined discipline. Social media strategies, community development and crisis management are defined disciplines. So why are you taking them all on? And in so doing are you hurting your brand?
I start 2013 with the intention answering these questions as well as many others. But you have to be honest with yourself, if you intend to make great evolution.
True story: I had been developing websites for approximately 10 years when I was finally honest and admitted to myself that there were better flash developers, code developers and in many cases graphic/web designers. I knew that if I wasn't the right fit for a client, then it was in the best interest of my consulting practice to find the person who was.
I see the same mentality in most of my colleagues who learned on the way up as I did. More often than not, we are unwilling to let go of work out of fear that we will not get more work in the future. I can tell you that the moment you decide to "lead" and get off the assembly line, quality of your work will blossom.
But getting back on track, each and every one of us probably have countless people within our friends fans and followers that we look to as leaders.
Ask them to look at your work. Ask them if it speaks your voice. Listen, be open-minded, and be fearless enough to know you won't get any better until you create change within your own work.
Once you lock this down for yourself it will come much easier for you to do it for your clients.