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The Importance of Pre-Kick-Off Meetings to A Small Agency Designer
By: Tom Roarty
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There are not a lot of creatives that like to attend meetings; actually, there are not a lot of people that I know in any industry that enjoy going to meetings. But if there were one meeting I find most beneficial, it would be the pre-kick-off meeting. I know a lot of people are probably thinking, "What, a meeting before the meeting?" I know, it just seems like more killed time, but for a designer working at a smaller-sized agency, it is probably one of the most vital meetings you may have access to.
The pre-kick-off meeting is usually an organized internal potluck-style gathering. In the company I work for, all three designers, the traffic coordinator, and our president sit in on this ritual. The goal is to catch people up on what was done in previous years for the client, if they are an existing account, or to dissect a company's branding if they are a new business. It is during this time that the creative team can start to compile a list of questions for the direct client contact, which in our case is usually our president.
Even with existing business, there is always a change in direction, and the clearer that can be made for a designer, the easier and faster the process will be. It is during this time to ask that strategic design questions be passed on, ones that may be overlooked by a non-designer. Things such as: Is there a theme the client wants to follow? Is there an existing color palette the client uses? Will the design be adapted for any other future media? Is there anything the client wants to avoid in their message? It is these creative-direction types of questions that may or may not be addressed by a non-designer who is in contact with a client, which could prove to be valuable key information in the creative process.
Sometimes, a series of creative questions can guide a client in a direction, which can be a huge asset for a designer. On the website of one of our recent clients, we came across possible theme ideas for a print project we were developing for them based on their digital content. Although this happened in the pre-kick-off meeting, it gave us the opportunity to brainstorm possible avenues to explore and helped to generate a variety of questions based on those ideas to be passed along to the client. From that meeting, we not only entered the kick-off meeting looking well-prepared, but we also were able to quickly reach a direction with a client, whom originally had none.
In the company that I am currently working for, we are lucky in the fact that our direct client representation is a creative. However, in many companies, that is not the case. By preparing your representation to best translate your needs to a client, it is a win-win situation for all involved in the process. Best of all, it usually only takes one good meeting to eliminate a series of repetitive ones, which keeps designers designing, which is where we are happiest!

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