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Charleston, SC Creative Director at Fuzzco Joined over 3 years ago
We have several meetings with a client before we start. We ask a ton of questions and make sure that everyone understands the project goals. We always have a kickoff where everyone on the project joins. We have a project lead and a project manager who make sure that the project goals are top of mind as the work happens. We also use Slack like crazy.
I will say that it was really hard during the first years - and by that I mean it's still really hard. I don't think I could have done it alone at all. Josh and I have an incredible relationship and we really depend on each other to make it happen.
The biggest challenge was finding work and then how to convince people that they should pay us to do it. We struggled so much with how to bill for our work. We had to figure everything out - rates, contracts, scope of work, scheduling, negotiating, sticking up for the work, etc. We had other jobs for the first two years so it was also balancing all of that.
We didn't know anyone who did what we were doing so we tried to meet people in our industry here in Charleston. That ended up being kind of helpful - people tended to keep things pretty close to the chest so we had to make a lot of it up on our own. We iterated and iterated on our processes, for years! We're still changing how we do things. It never ends! People are the best resources. There are books out there that are good too, like these and like this although to be honest I haven't read them.
We've become more focused in the last few years - more aware and deliberate about the kinds of things we actually want to be doing which feels great.
One day I want Fuzzco to be the kind of company that people come to for creative experiences. We'll still do branding and web and content but they will be more of the means to an end. I want to help create the business, the product, the bigger picture. That's where the really interesting opportunities are. That would be fun.
We grew pretty organically. We always had more work than we needed which helped. We were never sure it was the right time to grow, we just did what felt right according to what we thought we needed, and after lots and lots of conversations. It was incredibly stressful.
Man, we've gotten so many things wrong. We've hired the wrong people, charged too little for work, order way too many products for Pretend Store, signed off on print jobs with errors, adopted a neighborhood cat, etc.
I'd say to embrace the difficulties - maybe they will force you to work differently and maybe that will be a good thing. We've felt limited by being in Charleston in some ways, but have traded those limitations for things that we would have never found in a larger city.
We ask a ton of questions on the front end to really get to know the client, the business and the project. We create mood boards to communicate about design in a visual way. We set up a detailed schedule that we follow to get the project done on time. We set client's expectations on what the process will be like and how we'll be collaborating with them along the way.
My favorite coffee shop - it'd have to be a toss up between The Daily and Black Tap.
I'd encourage you to go work at a small studio. You'll get to wear more hats than you would at a big place and get more exposure to the nitty gritty parts of the job. Make it a priority to become great friends with your project manager (if you have one). The better your relationship, the healthier the communication the more fulfilled you'll be and the better the work will be.
Consistency in the work is very important to see in a portfolio. I look for a strong design aesthetic that aligns with ours and I love seeing a lot of identity work.
There have been so many challenging projects for so many different reasons. As we've gotten more experience things have tended to become less challenging / more expected, which is nice. Gosh... my favorite project... so hard. Right now we're working on a bunch of fun things - we're working with Montessorium on some really fun projects , we're also working on a suite of identities for a hotel in Charleston which is really exciting.
Thanks so much.
Every studio strikes this balance differently, and we’ve settled on something that has worked well for us.
Designers want to work with us so they can work on a broad range of really interesting projects for all kinds of clients. We work with everyone from Google to the sandwich shop around the corner, and everything in between. Many designers working at other studios with less diverse ranges of clients and projects freelance not just to make money but to add this type of diversity of work to their experience.
This is an environment where our designers get their hands on a ton of projects and in some indirect ways this policy enables us to support working with smaller clients and keeps the work more interesting. As a result everyone here benefits from the variety. We also compensate our designers well, give out performance bonuses and referral compensation, have a strong parental leave policy, and recently initiated a profit sharing plan for everyone in the company.
The approach has its pros and cons like any other, but we’ve found that the overall balance has worked well.
Wiley: TTTuuumpff TTTTuumpfff TTummpf Pfrmpf
Geraldine: MMieee Meeeeem teep teep teep feemp
Goosey: Heeyyyy Heyyyyy hey hey hi hi hi hey hey hey now now mine mine mine
This is really hard! We've run into the same issues. We've approached this problem in different ways - we've had clients put us on retainer for ongoing work, we've developed detailed brand guides and training manuals in the hopes that they are followed, we've been on call to review things that a client does independently and we've also been completely hands off. All of these solutions have had different results and very much depend on who the client is.
I think the answer is that it's different for every project but there are some things that you can do to help. Brand guides and training manuals help. Periodic checkins help (and clients seem to love them). If you are able to structure an ongoing relationship with a client that is probably the best as far as keeping up the integrity of the brand/website but not every client can afford this. There are also choices you can make during the design/dev that can make it easier/harder for a client to maintain the work. For example, if you create an identity system with too many moving parts it may be really confusing to the client. What it all comes down to is communication. A client should have a clearly defined program and understand the extensions and the boundaries - and when to contact you when they need something. A client should also know that their brand and site are alive and very much like a new car - when you drive it off the lot, anything can happen. The expectation should be set that repairs will be needed at some point in order to keep the car/brand/site in top form. Sorry for the cheesy analogy.
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