I’m a designer, and I love what I do. From brainstorming visual concepts with my team to sharing the final design with a client, I really enjoy the creative process.

But sometimes I run into challenges when designing for an employee communication channel. Clients get so focused on the content and their personal style preferences that they forget what the channel is meant to achieve.

As a result, the creative process gets bumpy, hair is pulled and your work ends up missing the mark.    

But there are strategies I use to keep clients from going down the rabbit hole and save my hair (and I want to give a shout-out to Albina for my awesome style!).

For example, instead of digging into the details (e.g., typography, stock photos or even the format), I stop and ask: What’s the objective? Who is the audience? And what’s the story you want to tell?

To help you keep the creative process moving smoothly, here are some common design challenges and how to tackle them:

1. No time to plan
Your client asks you to create an animated video to explain a new business strategy, and he wants to launch it in a week.

Your approach
Before you scramble to get it done, stop! Set up a meeting to explain how investing more time in storyboarding and developing a strong design concept will make the video more meaningful to employees.

But if the client digs in his heels, let him know what’s possible in the timeframe given.

 

2. Everything is important
You’re working on a presentation slide, and your client asks you to bold several words that are “very important!”

Your approach
If these ideas are that important, suggest devoting a slide to each. When employees can focus on one key point at a time, they’ll be more likely to remember it.

 

3. Too much text
The client wants you to design a poster to promote an event, and she gives you an entire page of copy.

Your approach
Remind your client that posters are usually read in passing, so fewer words and more visuals are best. Work with her to cut back the copy and use design elements, such as a hero image or callouts, to grab employees’ attention. And add a QR code to scan for more details.

 

4. Too many cooks in the kitchen
You’re working on a brochure with a team of eight clients, and they each send you contradicting feedback.

Your approach
To streamline the design process and ensure everyone stays focused on the objective of the internal communication piece, ask them to provide consolidated feedback. Or schedule regular team check-ins to share comments and confirm next steps.

 

5. Vague feedback
After reviewing the first draft of a digital sign, your client tells you it isn’t working and to “make it pop!”

Your approach
First, take a deep breath and grab yourself a cold-brew coffee from the kitchen. Then, ask a few questions to understand what he means by “pop”: What aspects of the piece aren’t working for him? What problem is he trying to solve? When you’re clear on expectations, you can offer practical design solutions.

 

It’s inevitable that these design challenges will come up now and then. But if you remind yourself (and your client) to focus on the objective first and the details second, you’ll design effective employee communication channels.

 

 

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