Know your Audience

So I saw this picture on Instagram this week. The great Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, AKA Marty and Doc from Back to the Future. It reminded me of a piece of design work I did back in my last full time employed role.

The job was creating the monthly staff newsletter. A task I hated as each month you had to come up with a theme and something to make people read it. The truth was it was only ever an ego massaging exercise for the sales team which no-one wanted to read and even fewer wanted to contribute to.

However for the October 2015 I had a brilliant idea. I'd do a Back the the Future themed edition, to coincide with the date Doc and Marty travel to in the second film 21st October 2015. I spent ages finding out cool facts about music, films, TV shows etc that were popular in October 1985 (the 'present day' for Marty). I also asked everyone to submit pictures of themselves as they were in 1985 for a 'Guess Who' competition.

The response I got to the picture request was less than enthusiastic. In a company that employed about 250 people I got 12 responses (including me). Most came back with "I wasn't born then"!!! Of these that were, the senior managers refused to play along as they didn't want to 'look silly' in front of the younger staff!!??

Those that did respond thought it was a great idea so I went ahead and the edition went out. There was almost ZERO feedback. Many didn't 'get it' because they're never heard of the films let alone seen them. Others only ever looked at the sales figures pages didn't even notice the theme. My best ever edition fell flat. I was so disapointed.

So why am I telling you all this? Well it's because as a designer I (and anyone else in my position) need to remember that we are designing for the target market or audience, NOT for ourselves. Sometimes we might create something we really love, but if it doesn't meet the brief, or fails to get the desired results its not a successful design. Successful design engages the audience, drives a conversation, converts a sale.

One size doesn't fit all so thats why it's important to get to know the client, their business and their objectives. It's why I love grabbing a coffee with a client or at least a Zoom call better than a phone call) so I can get a better understanding of what they need from me and I can produce something that fills their needs best.

Oh and in case you were wondering, this was me in 1985 and 2015 - yes that is the England Rugby Union World Cup.

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