Managing Expectations Across the Non-Existent Line

by Vinh Pho

Managing Expectations Across the Non-Existent LineThree factors come to mind when taking on the full spectrum of a packaging design project: creating value, capturing value and expectation management. Understand early what your capabilities are and what your clients expect from you.

As young designers, we have tendencies to over promise, or bite off more than we can chew. Don’t get me wrong, taking on new and exciting projects can result in amazing work, but always know your limits.

As designers we are great at creating value; that’s what we are hired to do. We are the ones responsible for the latest and greatest in trends and innovations. With that being said, listen to your clients’ input and understand their vision but know you are still the designer. It is your job as a designer to transform the story and create a journey to the best experience.

One of the more difficult tasks transitioning from a student to a professional was feasibility. In school, when a professor asks, “Does it work?” or “How are you going to manufacture that?” my response would be, “It kind of works like this” or “There is this new material that can do that.” Within an educational institution, professors want to push boundaries to bring out the most creative projects, but shortly after entering the professional world, you learn that taking product to market is everything. “It kind of works like this” is no longer an acceptable response.

Most clients are not designers. Once they fall in love with a concept, and you tell them, “Sorry, that actually isn’t possible,” the ramifications are somewhat disastrous. It makes you look like a fool, and brings distrust to the eyes of the client. Again, understand the lay of the land, approach projects with a mind of curiosity, but take a step back and look at the big picture.

We aren’t just creatives. The line that once divided business and design has become non-existent. Designers create as well as capture value. We understand our users, follow them, live life in their shoes, know their daily routines and understand their pain points. Design is based around the knowledge of needs and desires. We create brand personas, user experiences, brand loyalty and equity. If the only difference between a creative and “non” creative is the fact that we call ourselves creatives, then applying ourselves in a business context is a relevant argument.

To hear more from Vinh Pho visit the Designer Showcase

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Vinh Pho

Vinh Pho is an American design graduate from Art Center College of Design, with a Certificate of Completion at INSEAD Business School in France. Vinh’s focus is to blur the boundaries between business & design. His strategic approach & provocative thinking have earned him The Dieline Packaging award as well as multiple ISDA awards in the categories of product design, interface design & packaging/graphic design. Portfolio