« Back to Blog January 28, 2016 | Branding

Asking the Right Questions to Find Clarity

Every project starts with a problem.

“My visual identity is out of date and unappealing.” “I need to update my old website.” “My logo looks bad.”

Before these problems can be solved, there are questions that need to be asked and answered.

There are lots of questions I ask new clients before we begin coming up with solutions to their problems. Every one of these questions has a purpose. Some are to discern what the client hopes to achieve with this project, others are to determine what direction the client has in mind, and some are find out what parts of the client’s brand are already established.

Providing clarity to the project and to the client

Each question, when answered completely, gives me another piece of the puzzle to help me solve the problem I’ve been tasked with completing.

These questions are not just for my own benefit, the purpose of the questions is to provide clarity to the client and for the project. When everything is clearly outlined and goals are established, a project can move forward effectively and find the success that both myself and the client are looking to achieve.

Before I can effectively help anyone, I need to figure out what the client wants and if that matches up with what I feel the client actually needs. Sometimes people approach me wanting an entirely new website with all the bells and whistles. After speaking with them for a while, it may become clear what they actually need is something much simpler to best suit their needs. Helping clients through this phase is where you can establish trust in one another and really ensure that the project will be as successful as possible.

Finding clients that fit

Some questions are a small test to see if this potential client will be a good fit for my process. After working with a lot of different people over the years, it becomes easier to tell when someone just won’t be a good fit based on how they answer these questions. Trust me, it is much better to figure out a client isn’t a right fit now, rather than when you’ve signed them on. Save yourself and the potential client a headache and politely pass if they seem to be a poor fit.

Example Questions

So, you may ask, what do these questions look like?

Here are a handful of questions I’ll ask new clients early on in our conversation. These questions each serve to open up additional questions more focused on the individual who I’m speaking with.

These questions may seem pretty basic, and that’s because they are. These are questions anyone can answer about their organization with relative ease. The answers to these questions will open up more focused questions specific to the person who answered them. I treat these questions as the foundation of the brand I’ll be working on. They open the door to the rest of the organization and my ability to understand their needs and wants.

Unfortunately I can’t give examples of the follow up questions. Those questions should be specifically tailored to the client that you are working with. That may seem daunting, but I find that the next question to ask always presents itself after reading the client’s answers.

This stage of the process is different from the others because it doesn’t really end until I’ve completed my work. I never stop asking the client questions as I go through my process. I can never assume anything when it comes to a client’s organization. (You know what they say when you assume, right?) When I get an answer directly from the client, I know exactly what the client expects. I never guess. I ask.

Asking the right questions is difficult. It takes time to figure out the right thing to ask and when. I’ve made countless mistakes in my line of questioning in the past and I will undoubtably make more mistakes as I continue doing this work that I love. All I can do is keep learning, trying my hardest, and asking more questions.

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