Your in-house designer is great, but what if you could have a design consultant to really help your organization be more effective and forward-thinking. With an in-house designer, you’re already ahead of the game. They are great at helping plan and create the graphics and materials you’ll need, but are often times bogged down producing and can’t stop to think about the big picture, or help with strategy. That’s where a design consultant can help by looking at both the macro and micro, as well provide your designer with tools to make their job easier.
A design consultant is your creative director when you need one, and can help you with:
- assist with implementation
- provide recommendations
- diagnosis the problem
- provide solutions
As well as:
- make your organization more efficient and effective be providing you with systems and strategies
- build consensus by working with your stakeholders and getting them all on the same page
How do you strengthen your in-house designer’s role?
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I love creative, interesting businesses that make a difference. I also love to eat. When you combine these two, that’s when things really start to get interesting. For a long time making a profit meant that you didn’t care about the community or changing the system. That is no longer the case.
I first visited Union Kitchen, near Gallaudet University, a few years ago. It seemed like a cool place — hip, but not pretentious, with different types of food to choose from and interesting people in front of, and behind, the counters. I didn’t realize how much more they had to offer and how big their mission was.
Find a need, fill it, and fill it again
It all started when co-founders Jonas Singer & Cullen Gilchrist, of The Blind Dog Café, needed a commercial kitchen, and moved into a warehouse that was too big. They looked for others to share the space and soon realized they had other needs in common. By offering membership and business services, Union Kitchen could help local businesses create and prosper, and contribute to building the city they wanted to live in. And so their focus grew — becoming a food incubator working to create a profitable, sustainable, and just food system.
It’s so much more than food
Union Kitchen has a mission to bring local products to market in a way that drives community development. Sprinkled around the city, you’ll find Union Kitchen’s grocery store, production facility, and pop-up shop. All of which are meant to touch a different aspect of food and the community.
Supporting local food trucks, restaurateurs, bakers, caterers, and food entrepreneurs Union Kitchen is able to serve them in a multitude of capacities, covers all the bases. Some of the local products you find at Whole Foods are thanks in part to them, and some members have even moved on to opening their own brick and mortar shops. They believe whole-heartedly in the Made in DC movement.
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If you’re hungry, need a gift or ingredients, or are even a budding entrepreneur, Union Kitchen has something to offer. And you can be sure that you’re helping to create the community we want to live in. Visit http://unionkitchendc.com/
to learn more about how they make local scalable.
I’ve decided to offer free design consultations to potential clients. Why? Helping nonprofit and social-driven leaders use design and creativity to increase their impact lights my fire. I honestly think about it all the time. I also know that setting a budget for some nonprofits and social enterprises can be tough especially if they never invested in design before.
There is a different way of working
I want to show you what thoughtful design can do and how to leverage the resources you have.
You don’t have to invest $$ right away. I believe in sharing knowledge and resources. I believe that with understanding a bit about the problem you’re facing, a solution will be in reach. A solution that allows you to use your existing resources, as well as a big hairy one that makes your heart pound with excitement.
First I’ll ask you to answer a few questions about your organization and the problem you’re facing. This is standard procedure. It helps designers figure out what the actual deliverables might be: a 5-page website, a 20-page annual report, a new identity with a stationary package, etc., etc. It may come as a surprise, but often people say they want one thing, but after a few probing questions it turns out they need a lot more.
Ideas for the taking
After I review your answers, I’ll spend time brainstorming your issue. We’ll schedule a video, or in-person, chat where we can talk about how you might go about designing the social impact you dream of and bounce a few ideas around. What you do afterward is up to you.
You can take the idea and DIY it, hire someone else to do it, or we can begin officially working together to make it happen.
If there was ever a magic potion for picking the brain of a seasoned creative…this is it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I can’t wait to get started.
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Have you realized that you need to bring your “A” game to your social impact design and marketing, but not sure how to start? It’s time to call for help. Someone that not only produces great work, but understands your needs, and that you would actually like working with.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs
In order to make that possible, you have a bit of homework. Here’s how you get your sh*t together before any actual designing takes place:
- Figure out what the problem is that you’re trying to solve. Are online sales down? Is no one opening your emails? Everyone gets your org. confused with a different one? You get the idea. This is gold for designers. We love to solve problems and look for unique ways to do it.
- What will success look like: is it raising $$$, getting more subscribers to your newsletter, getting your audience to take you seriously. This will help us come up with creative solutions.
- Be realistic about how much you can spend. This number might change after you look around and see how much campaigns, branding, etc., actually cost.
- Start looking at different designers/agencies to get a feel for how they work, their strengths and personalities. Ask around for recommendations.
- Ask for a consultation. You might have to pay for one, but it will help you get a feel for each other.
When was the first time you invested in your organization’s design? How was the experience?
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So you have a new business or nonprofit and you need a consistent look for all your marketing and communications. No $$ to hire an expert? Confident you can DIY?
Think of your brand as the mothership
Your brand is not just a logo, but the overarching look and feel that touches everything you do and say about your organization. When developing a brand you should start with the who, what, and why of your business and audience. Then you can work on making sure your logo, colors, etc. are a visual representation of that.
Your DIY branding resources
Inexpensive resources to help you figure out your brand and create print and online graphics:
- Branding Toolkit for Changemakers – an ebook that guides you through the branding process
- moo – print business cards and other kinds of materials from templates, or upload your own
- hands on every day – print business cards and other kinds of materials from templates, or hire them to create custom designs
- canva – create social media graphics or other print materials
DIYing might be the best short-term solution, but as you grow, pivot your business, or go after a more targeted audience, a larger investment will have to be made. If that happens, no worries. There are plenty of professionals, myself included, that would love to help.
Have you DIYed a brand before? Where you happy with the results?
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