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If you represent a corporation, institution,

advertising agency, investor or public
relations firm, or you are an individual in
need of graphic design, you’ve landed
exactly where you need to be. Welcome.

12 13
A Client’s Guide to Design:
How to Get the Most Out
of the Process
Getting the most out
of the process 16

Finding the right designer 19

The design brief 27

Budgeting and managing

the process 29

AIGA standards of
professional practice 32

Business expectations for

the professional designer 36

Unlike so much in today’s busi- The value position We live in a time of sensory as- Books designers read:
ness world, graphic design is not a Design—good design—is not sault. Competing for “eyeballs”— ■ 6 Chapters in Design, Saul Bass
commodity. It is the highly indi- cheap. You would be better served which is to say, customers—is
vidualized result of people coming to spend your money on some- more than just an internet ■ AIGA: Professional Practices in
together to do something they thing else if you don’t place a phenomenon. The challenge for Graphic Design, AIGA
couldn’t do alone. When the col- high value on what it can achieve. companies everywhere is to at-
laboration is creative, the results There’s a view in Buddhism tract consumers to their products ■ Blur: The Speed of Change in the
usually are, too. This chapter is that there’s no “good” karma and services and keep them in Connected Economy, Stan Davis &
about how to get creative results. and no“bad” karma, there’s just the face of fickle markets. Christopher Meyer
Developed by AIGA, the discus- karma. The same can’t be said
sion that follows will give you for design. Karma is a universal The answer to this challenge ■ Bradbury Thompson:
realistic, useful information about condition. Design is a human act starts with each company’s people, The Art of Graphic Design,
the design process–from selecting (which often affects conditions) products and services, but it Bradbury Thompson
a design firm to providing a clear and, therefore, subject to many doesn’t end there. How companies
understanding of objectives, eval- variables. When the word “design” communicate to their markets ■ The Cluetrain Manifesto:
uating cost and guiding a project is used here, it is always in the and constituencies is becoming The End of Business as Usual,
to a desired end. It is a kind of context of good design. the primary means of differentia- Christopher Locke
“best practices” guide based upon tion today. Never, in fact, has ef-
the best thinking of many differ- A lot of famous people have written fective communication been more ■ The Death of Distance,
ent designers with very different many famous books on the im- important in business. And it has Francis Cairncross
specializations and points of view, portance of design and creativity. increased the pressure within
as well as clients of design who The subject matter ranges from companies to establish environ- ■ Jamming: The Art and Discipline
have a long history of using it suc- using design and creativity to gain ments and attitudes that support of Corporate Creativity, John Kao
cessfully for their companies. The a strategic advantage or make the the success of creative endeavors,
fundamental premise here is that world a more livable place—and internally and externally. More ■ The Lexus and the Olive Tree,
anything worth doing is worth more. Much more. The focus here often than not, companies that Thomas L. Friedman
doing well, but if it’s to be done is on how to make the process of value design lead the pack.
well, it must first be valued. design work in the business envi- ■ Looking Closer: Classical Writings
ronment so that the end product on Graphic Design,
lives up to its potential. ed. Michael Bierut

■ New Rules for the New Economy,

Kevin Kelly

■ Orbiting the Giant Hairball:

A Corporate Fool’s Guide to
Surviving With Grace,
Gordon MacKenzie

■ Thoughts on Design,
Paul Rand

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What design is and isn’t The objects of design

Design often has the properties Design is about the whole, not
of good looks, which perhaps the parts. If you wear your $2,500
is why it’s often confused with Armani suit with the wrong pair
style. But design is about the of shoes, you are apt to be remem-
underlying structure of com- bered for the shoes and not the
municating—the idea, not merely suit. Inconsistency raises doubt,
the surface qualities. The late, and doubt makes people wary.
great designer Saul Bass called This might not matter much if
this “idea nudity”—messages that
stand on their unadorned own.
customers didn’t have alternatives,
but they do. And they know it.
Finding the right designer
Certainly, it’s possible for a good
idea to be poorly executed. But So? People with a great deal of experience—both as
bad ideas can’t be rescued. When, designers and as clients—will tell you that if you
for example, a global fashion So, it isn’t enough for a company
house put verses from the Koran to have a great logo if the com- really do your homework in the selection process,
on the back pockets of its designer munications effort isn’t carried the chances are excellent that what follows will
jeans for all the world to sit on, out across the full spectrum of bring about the hoped–for results.
that was a bad idea before it was the company’s interaction with
ever designed and produced. And its marketplaces— from how the
the outcry of indignant Muslims telephone is answered to corporate
worldwide loudly attested to this. identity; branding; packaging;
Using a different color or type print materials; advertising;
style wouldn’t have changed internet, intranet, interactive
the outcome. multimedia and web-related
communications; and environ-
Ideas give design its weight, its mental graphics. The “swoosh”
ability to influence audiences didn’t make Nike a successful
positively, negatively or not at all. company. Nike made the
“swoosh” an iconic reflection of a
carefully orchestrated approach
to the marketplace. (For better
or worse, the marketplace is
now deluged with “swoosh”-like
shapes, identifying companies
ranging from sportswear to
software. It’s the frame of refer-
ence for what many think of when
visualizing the word “mark.”) It’s
unlikely the “swoosh” would be
so memorable had it stayed con-
fined to, say, hangtags on shoes.

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Where to look Design industry publications are Designers themselves are also If you have a retail packaging
There are more than 22,000 another source. They are both good sources. Ask them whom project, a firm that designs only
members of AIGA, and there numerous and accessible. Not they respect within their field. environmental graphics might not
are hundreds, if not thousands, only do they publish the work There’s nothing wrong with getting be your best choice. Why? Well, the
of other businesses providing of designers on a regular basis, them to name their competition. reasons have less to do with design
graphic design that aren’t mem- many also publish design annuals While it might make choosing than with technical requirements,
bers. There are also other graphic that display what the publica- tougher, when you make the final vendor knowledge, pricing and
design associations with their own tions judge to be the best design selection from among designers scheduling. The designer who
memberships. And this is just the in a variety of categories. These who are peers, you usually come knows how paint and materials
United States. It’s a big community publications will not only show out better than when you don’t. hold up in weather or how signage
and, as with all businesses, design you what designers are capable of (And if the relationship doesn’t is viewed from a moving vehicle
is increasingly global. Where do producing, but also how compa- work, well, you have some future may not know a thing about seam
you start? nies of all sizes and from every contenders you already know wraps and how products are treated
sector of industry are using design something about.) on retail shelves.
The membership lists of AIGA to communicate effectively.
and other design organizations What to look for Still, there is no litmus test to say
are available to the public. Reviewing them is a fairly easy Locating designers to interview is a one firm can do the job and the
They are a good place to begin, way to see a lot of work quickly. fairly uncomplicated proposition. other can’t, or that a firm without
especially if you’re starting from Doing so may also tell you some- What to look for among the poten- a certain kind of experience can’t
ground zero. You will find the thing about where your own de- tial candidates—what makes one or learn. In fact, some companies see
lists arranged by city and state, sign comfort zone lies. And while the other the right firm for you— a real benefit in hiring a design
so that if location is an issue for your personal comfort zone isn’t is more complex. It’s not a beauty firm that brings neither prior
you, you can define your search necessarily the right yardstick contest. Seeing work that you like experience nor preconceptions to
geographically. Start with AIGA’s for making a selection, knowing is important and altogether ap- their project. If you’ve identified
online membership directory it will help you in the “briefing” propriate as a point of departure. a firm you’d like to work with and
at process (more on this shortly). But it’s not enough to warrant a are comfortable making a leap of
marriage proposal. faith, you probably should.
The AIGA Design Archives, Still another way to find designers, is to look around at what other The nature and technology of what
the largest searchable online companies are doing; call the is designed today is changing and
archive of curated communication companies whose efforts you expanding, and so is the discipline
design selections in existence, admire and ask for their recom- of design. As with many businesses
represents selections from AIGA mendations. Companies that are and professions today, there’s
design exhibition catalogues doing a good job of communicat- more to know, and the knowledge
dating back to 1924. The goal of ing are companies who care about itself has a shrinking shelf life.
the online archive is to provide it, and they’re typically willing to Some design firms have organized
access to examples of design discuss the subject. Furthermore, themselves to do everything, add-
excellence from AIGA competitions, if they’re doing good work, it usu- ing new capabilities as the demand
which are central to the history ally means they are good clients. warrants. Others do related things,
of the design profession, and to Find out from them what makes a such as corporate identity and
promote discovery. Visitors are design client a good client. annual reports. And still others do
able to create lightboxes of images, one thing—web design, for example.
annotate them for reference and
share them with others.

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The “discovery” process is where And don’t stop there. Some of these questions are Top 10 questions
you can make that determination. subjective, intuitive. Most have
1. How does the firm like
And the more thorough you are, How effective has the design concrete answers. If, for example,
to work?
the more likely you are to find a firm’s work been from project to a firm can’t tell you what its clients
firm with whom you can achieve project? Does it even know? And were trying to achieve or how it
2. Who are its clients?
great—who knows, perhaps does it know why? Can the firm arrived at its solutions, chances are
even spectacular—results. So ask demonstrate that it has done what it doesn’t deal in ideas. If it isn’t
3. How knowledgeable is it
questions. Lots of them. it promised in terms of budgets adept at running its own business,
about them?
and schedules? Are you talking it probably won’t be good at
What’s the design firm like to with the people who will do the running your project. If it talks
4. How is it viewed by them?
work with? What is its culture work for you? Are they the ones only about itself, it may not be a
By its peers?
and how does that match up with who did the work you liked? good listener.
your company’s? How flexible If not, have you seen their work?
5. What is its design process?
is it? Does it want lots of direc- Does the firm share the credit— To get your answers, go first to the
tion? Or lots of latitude? And how good and bad—for its work? Does design firms you are considering.
6. What kind of design
much of either are you prepared it exhibit a good grasp of business Then check out external refer-
experience does it have?
to give? Who are its clients? And and does the condition of the ences, especially clients—and not
how did it get them? Does it have a company reflect this? Do you feel just the references provided.
7. What kind of results has
thorough understanding of their that you will enjoy working with Get comfortable with the honesty
it achieved?
businesses? What kind of working the people you’ve met? of the firms you are talking to.
relationships does it have with Find out if their experiences and
8. Who will work on
them? And with its vendors— those of their clients gel. Trust is
your project?
from writers to photographers, essential when you are handing
printers, web consultants and over your wallet and your image to
9. Does the firm understand
fabricators? Is it a specialist? Or someone else.
the business?
generalist? Does it have the man-
power and technical capabilities If you find yourself wondering
10. Do you like the people
to do what you need? How does it whether all of this is really necessary,
you’ve met?
arrive at design solutions? ask yourself how seriously you
want to compete in the market-
place. Because that is exactly what
a good designer will help you do.

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What about design competitions aren’t that many multibillion- Egalitarian or just too eager? from its creator. Who loses? The
and spec work? dollar companies, for one thing. A typical design competition can designer, the client and the profes-
There are differing views on For another, few companies be drawn from experience with the sion. The designer gives up creative
these two closely related subjects. cast such a wide net in search of International Olympic Committee, property without a fair level of
Some designers are absolutely design. The more common specu- the U.S. government or even busi- control or compensation. The
opposed to design competitions lative scenario includes noncom- ness enterprise, and it usually goes client fails to get the full benefit of
and speculative work. Period. pensated competitions and work something like this: A competition the designer’s talent and guidance.
Others are open to them, provided that’s commissioned but paid is announced for a new logo and The profession is misrepresented,
they are compensated fairly for for only upon approval. In either identity. No creative brief outlines indeed compromised, by specula-
their work (i.e., according to the case, the situation is the same: the communication challenges or tive commercial art.
market value of the work). little or no value is placed upon objectives from the perspective
the designer as a professional, as of the client. A jury will select the Unpaid design presentations are
The design competitions being someone whose purpose is to give winner and a prize may be given fraught with economic risk—risk
discussed here are those that trusted advice on matters signifi- (recent examples include a color that is absorbed entirely by the
require design firms to do original cant to the company. TV and stipends of $15 and $2,000). designer. Why, then, do some
work for a company in an effort Often the client indicates one of design firms agree to participate?
to get that company’s business— Please visit the “rewards” will be the use
not the kind held by nonprofit spec-work for more information of the design by the client—i.e., Sometimes a new firm or a firm
professional organizations, such about AIGA’s position on exposure. The rules of competition without strong design abilities
as AIGA, for the purpose of recog- spec work. include granting the client owner- will offer the excuse that this is
nizing design excellence. ship of the selected entries. (In the only way for it to get work or
one recent competition, the client exposure. A slump in business
Consider this real-world scenar- asked for ownership even of might make a designer more will-
io: A multibillion-dollar, publicly designs that were not selected.) ing to gamble. Whatever the reason
held global corporation with huge Once a design is chosen, develop- given, this short-term approach
brand awareness surveys the work ment of it may or may not involve to hiring a design firm is not in
of several dozen graphic design the designer. the best interests of either party.
firms for the purpose of selecting
one to design its annual report. But the issues go beyond econom-
A competition like this prevents ics. The financial burden borne by
After narrowing the field to a half-
the client from having the benefit the design team translates into risk
dozen candidates, the company
of professional consultation in for the client. To protect their “in-
offers each design firm $25,000
framing and solving a communica- vestment” in a design competition,
to provide it with a mock design of
tion problem. The client receives competing firms often play it safe,
the report, issuing well-defined
artwork at a cost below market providing solutions that don’t offer
design parameters. Assuming the
value, owns the intellectual or fresh, new ideas—in which case,
compensation reflects the effort
creative property and can exploit the client gets what it paid for.
required (it did), this isn’t an
the work without involvement
unreasonable way to approach the
selection process. And many de-
signers would opt to participate.
Yes, speculation is involved, but
so is reciprocal value—up front.
Real though it is, however, this
scenario isn’t the norm. There

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You wouldn’t ask a law firm or The “product” comes at the end
management consultant to provide of a long engagement (in the case
you with recommendations prior of architecture) or is the cumula-
to hiring them. A design firm, no tive effect of a long engagement (as
less than a law firm or manage- in advertising campaigns). Either
ment consultant, has to know its way, initial design represents only
client thoroughly if it’s to give a small part of the project’s total
valid advice. This takes time and value to both client and architect
commitment from both sides. or agency. Not so with graphic
Design competitions—even paid design. The design approach rep-
ones—just don’t allow for this level resents the real value offered by The design brief
of participation. the design firm, and the bulk of the
work may well be completed at
A design brief is a written explanation given by the
Comparisons sometimes are made the front end of a project.
with design competitions held for client to the designer at the outset of a project. As
the purpose of selecting architects the client, you are spelling out your objectives and
or advertising agencies. Where expectations and defining a scope of work when
these analogies fall short is in the
initial effort required versus future you issue one. You’re also committing to a concrete
potential. Architects and adver- expression that can be revisited as a project moves
tising agencies typically present forward. It’s an honest way to keep everyone honest.
design alternatives in order to win
assignments that represent sub- If the brief raises questions, all the better. Questions
stantial future billings and ongoing early are better than questions late.
consulting services to the client.

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Why provide a design brief? How to write one

The purpose of the brief is to get A brief is not a blueprint. It

everyone started with a common shouldn’t tell the designer how to
understanding of what’s to be do the work. It’s a statement of
accomplished. It gives direction purpose, a concise declaration of
and serves as a benchmark against a client’s expectations of what the
which to test concepts and execu- design should accomplish. And
tion as you move through a project. while briefs will differ depending
Some designers provide clients upon the project, there are some
with their own set of questions.
Even so, the ultimate responsibility
general guidelines to direct the
process. Among them:
Budgeting and managing
for defining goals and objectives the process
and identifying audience and ■ Provide a clear statement of
context lies with the client. objectives, with priorities
If the briefing effort is thorough, budgeting and
■ Relate the objectives to overall
Another benefit of the design company positioning managing a project is easier. It takes two to budget
brief is the clarity it provides you and manage a design project: the client and
as the client about why you’re em- ■ Indicate if and how you’ll
barking on a project. If you don’t measure achievement of the designer. The most successful collaborations
know why, you can’t possibly hope your goals are always those where all the information
to achieve anything worthwhile. ■ Define, characterize and is on the table and expectations are in the open
Nor are you likely to get your com- prioritize your audiences
pany behind your project. A brief from the outset.
■ Define budgets and time frames
can be as valuable internally as
it is externally. ■ Explain the internal
approval process
If you present it to the people ■ Be clear about procedural
within the company most directly requirements (e.g., if more than
affected by whatever is being pro- one bid is needed from fabrica-
duced, you not only elicit valuable tors, or if there’s a minimum
input, but also pave the way for acceptable level of detail for
their buy-in. design presentations)
When you think about it, the last In the final analysis, design briefs
thing you want is for your project are about paving the way for a suc-
to be a test of the designer’s skills. cessful design effort that reflects
Your responsibility is to help well on everyone involved.
the design firm do the best work
it can. That’s why you hired the
firm. And why you give it a brief.

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Design costs money ment and production, photogra- Who leads? Who follows? If you identify and articulate your
As one very seasoned and gifted phy, illustration, copywriting and It is the client’s responsibility to objectives, establish your process
designer says, “There is always a printing for a print piece (or, lead a project and the designer’s early, see that the design team
budget,” whether it is revealed in the case of a website, estimates to design and manage the design has access to what it needs from
to the design team or not. Clients for programming, proprietary process. Don’t confuse leadership you, have a detailed budget and
often are hesitant to announce software and equipment). with involvement. As the person schedule to measure progress
how much they have to spend for representing the client, you might with, and lead the process from
fear that if they do, the designer The more informed you are as a want a great deal of involvement, beginning to end, there is no
will design to that number when client about what things cost, the or very little. If you provide lead- reason that you won’t be able to
a different solution for less more effective you can be in guid- ership, your participation can be enjoy the design process as much
money might otherwise have ing a project. You should know, for whatever you want it to be. as the end product.
been reached. This is a reason- instance, that if your design firm
able concern and yet, it’s as risky hires outside talent such as writers, “The first responsibility of a At least, that’s how many of our
to design in a budgetary vacuum photographers and illustrators leader is to define reality. members and their clients see it.
as it is to design without a goal. If and pays them, it is standard The last is to say thank you.”
your utility vehicle budget stops policy to mark up (generally, 20 Max DePree, CEO,
at four cylinders, four gears and a percent) the fees charged by these Herman Miller, Inc.,
radio, there’s no point in looking professionals. You can choose to Leadership as an Art
at Range Rovers. pay these contributors directly to
avoid the markup, but this should There are countless volumes on
If you have $100,000 to spend be addressed at the time they’re the subject of leadership, so we
and you’d really like to dedi- hired. Printing, historically, has won’t presume to give leadership
cate $15,000 of it to something been treated the same way. lessons here. The same gen-
else, giving the design team that eral principles apply. In a design
knowledge helps everyone. Then You should also be aware that project, leadership requires that
you won’t get something that costs photographers, illustrators and you give clear direction at the
$110,000 that you want but cannot writers are generally paid a “kill outset. You must be available
pay for. The trust factor is the fee” if a project is cancelled after when needed by the design team
800-pound gorilla in the budget- work has started. That’s because and ready to make decisions in a
ing phase. Without trust, there talent is in constant demand and timely manner. You should un-
isn’t a basis for working together. accepting one project often means derstand how the design supports
turning other work away. In the your objectives (so you can sell it).
The ideal approach is to bring in case of photography, expect to pay And you’ll need to monitor major
your designer as early as you can. when a photo shoot is cancelled. delivery points and be prepared
The design team can then help you And remember that unless you to get the necessary approvals.
arrive at realistic cost parameters stipulate otherwise, you are buying On this last point, some designers
that relate to your objectives in one-time usage of the photo- are excellent presenters, and, in
lieu of an arbitrary budget figure. graphs— not the work itself—and fact, like to present their work to
At this stage it is quite feasible to that copyright laws are in force the the final authority. But while they
put together a budget range based moment the shutter trips. If you can be persuasive, they are not the
upon a broad scope of a project want unlimited use, you will have ones to get the final sign-off. As
or program. Individual estimates to negotiate and pay for it. the leader of the team, you are the
can be provided, for example, for deal-maker, the closer.
design concepts, design develop-

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The designer’s responsibility The designer’s responsibility
to clients to other designers

A professional designer shall Designers in pursuit of business

acquaint himself or herself with a opportunities should support fair
client’s business and design stan- and open competition.
dards and shall act in the client’s
best interest within the limits of A professional designer shall
professional responsibility. not knowingly accept any pro-
fessional assignment on which
A professional designer shall not another designer has been or is
Standards of work simultaneously on assign- working without notifying the
professional practice ments that create a conflict of other designer or until he or she
interest without agreement of the is satisfied that any previous ap-
clients or employers concerned, pointments have been properly
A professional designer adheres to principles of except in specific cases where it terminated and that all materials
integrity that demonstrate respect for the profession, is the convention of a particular relevant to the continuation of the
for colleagues, for clients, for audiences or consumers, trade for a designer to work at the project are the clear property of
same time for various competitors. the client.
and for society as a whole.
A professional designer shall treat A professional designer must not
These standards define the expectations of a all work in progress prior to the attempt, directly or indirectly, to
completion of a project and all supplant or compete with another
professional designer and represent the distinction knowledge of a client’s intentions, designer by means of unethical
of an AIGA member in the practice of design. production methods and business inducements.
organization as confidential and
shall not divulge such information A professional designer shall be
in any manner whatsoever without objective and balanced in criticiz-
the consent of the client. It is ing another designer’s work and
the designer’s responsibility to shall not denigrate the work or
ensure that all staff members act reputation of a fellow designer.
A professional designer shall not
A professional designer who ac- accept instructions from a client
cepts instructions from a client that involve infringement of
or employer that involve violation another person’s property rights
of the designer’s ethical stan- without permission, or consciously
dards should be corrected by the act in any manner involving any
designer, or the designer should such infringement.
refuse the assignment.
A professional designer working
in a country other than his or her
own shall observe the relevant
Code of Conduct of the national
society concerned.

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Fees a client to use his or her name for in a negative or dehumanizing A professional designer shall
A professional designer shall the promotion of work designed way. A professional designer shall refuse to engage in or countenance
work only for a fee, a royalty, sal- or services provided in a manner strive to be sensitive to cultural discrimination on the basis of race,
ary or other agreed-upon form that is appropriate to the status values and beliefs and engages in sex, age, religion, national origin,
of compensation. A professional of the profession. fair and balanced communication sexual orientation or disability.
designer shall not retain any design that fosters and encourages
kickbacks, hidden discounts, Authorship mutual understanding. A professional designer shall
commission, allowances or pay- A professional designer shall strive to understand and support
ment in kind from contractors not claim sole credit for a design The designer’s responsibility to the principles of free speech,
or suppliers. Clients should be on which other designers have society and the environment freedom of assembly and access
made aware of markups. collaborated. A professional designer, while en- to an open marketplace of ideas,
gaged in the practice or instruction and shall act accordingly.
A reasonable handling and When not the sole author of a of design, shall not knowingly do
administration charge may be design, it is incumbent upon a or fail to do anything that consti-
added, with the knowledge and professional designer to clearly tutes a deliberate or reckless disre-
understanding of the client, as a identify his or her specific re- gard for the health and safety of the
percentage to all reimbursable sponsibilities or involvement with communities in which he or she
items, billable to a client, that pass the design. Examples of such work lives and practices or the privacy
through the designer’s account. may not be used for publicity, of the individuals and businesses
display or portfolio samples with- therein. A professional designer
A professional designer who has a out clear identification of precise shall take a responsible role in
financial interest in any suppliers areas of authorship. the visual portrayal of people, the
who may benefit from a recom- consumption of natural resources,
mendation made by the designer The designer’s responsibility and the protection of animals and
in the course of a project will to the public the environment.
inform the client or employer A professional designer shall
of this fact in advance of the avoid projects that will result in A professional designer shall
recommendation. harm to the public. not knowingly accept instructions
from a client or employer that
A professional designer who is A professional designer shall involve infringement of another
asked to advise on the selection of communicate the truth in all situ- person’s or group’s human rights
designers or the consultants shall ations and at all times; his or her or property rights without permis-
not base such advice in the receipt work shall not make false claims sion of such other person or group,
of payment from the designer nor knowingly misinform. A pro- or consciously act in any manner
or consultants recommended. fessional designer shall represent involving any such infringement.
messages in a clear manner in all
forms of communication design A professional designer shall not
Any self-promotion, advertising and avoid false, misleading and knowingly make use of goods or
or publicity must not contain de- deceptive promotion. A profes- services offered by manufacturers,
liberate misstatements of compe- sional designer shall respect the suppliers or contractors that are
tence, experience or professional dignity of all audiences and shall accompanied by an obligation that
capabilities. It must be fair both value individual differences even is substantively detrimental to the
to clients and other designers. as they avoid depicting or stereo- best interests of his or her client,
A professional designer may allow typing people or groups of people society or the environment.

34 35
Experience and knowledge management for approval and
A professional designer is quali- meet with a client as often
fied by education, experience and as necessary to define ongoing
practice to assist organizations processes and strategy.
with strategic communication
Compensation and
design. A professional designer
financial practices
has mastered a broad range of
conceptual, formal and techno- A professional designer provides
logical skills. the client with a working agree-
Business expectations for A professional designer applies
ment or estimate for all projects.

a professional designer his or her knowledge about physi- A professional designer will not
cal, cognitive, social and cultural incur any expenses in excess
human factors to communication of the budget without the client’s
In today’s information-saturated world, where an planning and the creation of an advance approval.
organization’s success is determined by the power of appropriate form that interprets,
its brand, professional designers become even more informs, instructs or persuades. A professional designer may
apply reasonable handling and
important in ensuring that companies communicate Strategic process administrative charges to reim-
effectively—an imperative with bottom-line impact. A professional designer combines bursable items that pass through
Furthermore, a professional designer’s ability to execute creative criteria with sound the designer’s account with the
problem-solving strategy to knowledge and understanding of
communications projects efficiently and economically the client.
create and implement effective
is more critical than ever.
communication design.
A professional designer does not
A professional designer solves undertake speculative work or
When a client invests in the services of a professional
communication problems proposals (spec work) in which
designer, he or she hires an individual who aspires to a client requests work without
with effective and impactful
the highest level of strategic design, ensuring a higher information architecture. providing compensation and
return on investment. If a designer meets the following without developing a professional
A professional designer becomes relationship that permits the
criteria, he or she will demonstrate the integrity and designer sufficient access to the
acquainted with the necessary
honor of the professional designer. elements of a client’s business client to provide a responsible
and design standards. recommendation.

A professional designer con-

ducts the necessary research and
analysis to create sound commu-
nication design with clearly stated
goals and objectives.

A professional designer will

submit an initial communication
strategy to an organization’s

36 37
Ethical standards Clients can expect AIGA members
A professional designer does not to live up to these business and
work on assignments that create ethical standards for professional
potential conflicts of interest designers. Through consistently
without a client’s prior consent. professional work, AIGA members
A professional designer treats all have documented substantial
work and knowledge of a client’s bottom-line contributions to corpo-
business as confidential. rations and organizations. For more
information and case studies about
A professional designer provides how professional designers have
realistic design and production produced excellent business results,
schedules for all projects and will visit
notify the client when unforeseen
circumstances may alter those

A professional designer will clearly

outline all intellectual property
ownership and usage rights in a
project proposal or estimate.


AIGA, the professional association for design, is the oldest

and largest membership association for design professionals
engaged in the discipline, practice and culture of designing.
AIGA’s mission is to advance designing as a professional craft, VERSION A AIGA/Adobe official sponsor logo 7.15.03 1:30 p.m. ww

strategic tool and vital cultural force.

Founded in 1914, AIGA is the preeminent professional association

for communication designers, broadly defined. In the past
decade, designers have increasingly been involved in creating DESIGN BUSINESS AND ETHICS
value for clients (whether public or business) through applying SPONSOR
design thinking to complex problems, even when the outcomes
may be more strategic, multidimensional and conceptual than
what most would consider traditional communication design.
AIGA now represents more than 22,000 designers of all disci-
plines through national activities and local programs developed
by 64 chapters and more than 240 student groups. Arctic Paper produces and markets
high-quality graphic paper from its mills
in Sweden, Germany and Poland. The
AIGA supports the interests of professionals, educators and company’s grade lines include Amber,
Arctic, Munken, Pamo and L-print.
students who are engaged in the process of designing. The Arctic Paper prides itself on being a top
association is committed to stimulating thinking about design, producer of sustainable and eco-friendly
products. The company has 1,150 employees
demonstrating the value of design, and empowering success and sales offices in 15 countries worldwide.
for designers throughout the arc of their careers. Additional information is available
at or through its North
American offices at

AIGA | the professional association for design Disclaimer: Legal information is not legal advice.
164 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 This publication provides information about the
212 807 1990 law designed to help designers safely cope with
their own legal needs. But legal information is
PUBLISHER not the same as legal advice — the application
Richard Grefé, AIGA of law to an individual’s specific circumstances.
Although AIGA goes to great lengths to make sure
our information is accurate and useful, we rec-
ommend that you consult a lawyer if you want
A Client’s Guide to Design:
professional assurance that our information, and
Joanne Stone and Lana Rigsby
your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your
particular situation.
Use of Fonts:
Allan Haley
Contributing editors: Sam Berlow, IN-KIND PAPER PARTNER

Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Arctic Paper

Zusana Licko and Frank Martinez
Cover: Munken Polar, 300 g/m
Use of Illustration: Text: Munken Lynx, 130 g/m
Brad Holland and Tammy Shannon
Use of Software: Blanchette Press
Business Software Alliance Richmond, BC, Canada
Sales Tax:
Daniel Abraham and Marci Barbey DESIGN
Grant Design Collaborative, Atlanta
Guide to Copyright:
Tad Crawford
Jerry Burns, StudioBurns, Atlanta
Use of Photography:
Tad Crawford

Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services: Interstate and Filosofia

Jim Faris and Shel Perkins
© 2009 AIGA
First edition published in 2001.


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