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The Future Role of a Designer

A graphic designer’s role is something that changes constantly. One day he may be working on a landing page and product placement, and the next he could be touring a baseball stadium and learning the team inside and out in order to create their next rebrand. If one thing can be said about today’s graphic designer, it’s that they’re being groomed to run a business.

When you begin a career in design, you quickly find out that there isn’t really a corporate ladder. It’s more of a corporate mountain that you have to climb. It’s never straight up, one foot after the other. You may start climbing and have to shift your position to move sideways. You may have to tie off your rope and swing to a different side of the rock face. You may also need to jump to another ledge when the one you’re on begins to crumble beneath you.

The path your career will take may be surprising and it may throw you off a bit, but don’t be discouraged or frustrated. Count it as a blessing. Not many positions give you the wide range of experience you get when you’re in the design field. Every day is a new client, in a new industry, with a different goal. Designers have the greatest opportunity to gain new experience, learn from industry leaders, identify and solve problems a business may have, and collect the data from successful and unsuccessful strategies. I believe this will lead to more designers stepping up to hold the reigns of their own business.

Gaining Knowledge

One great privilege a graphic designer has is the chance to sit and talk with a business owner or board of directors. Men and women who have a wealth of knowledge that you have access to. When meeting with them, it’s an opportunity to find out not only what decision they’ve made leading the company, but why they made those decisions. There’s not a lot of room for big mistakes when running a successful company. And gaining the knowledge it takes to navigate the business world is something a designer should take advantage of.

Problem Solving

A designer’s primary job is to solve problems. It’s not about creating a digital masterpiece in photoshop or making the absolute coolest logo ever that wins awards for being the coolest logo ever. A designer has to provide a solution to a real world client problem. Early on in my design career I thought that my goal was to make every client look like the design work that I admired. The trendy hand drawn type and the washed out images of a forest were to become the identity of my clients so that they’d be cool and fit in with everything current. It only took a few unsuccessful client projects to figure out that these were real people investing their real money. This is an extremely important idea that designers need to understand. You can’t think of every project as a way to boost your portfolio. This is especially true for the small business. For a small business to come to a design agency and pay for work is a huge investment. One that could make or break a company as well as a person’s livelihood. Keeping this mindset will prepare you to think of every business move objectively. And a designer with this discipline, is a designer who will be successful.

Outside the Box

One huge advantage that any great designer will have is creative, out of the box, thinking. This is a huge asset that a person with a business or finance degree may not have. When unique challenges and opportunities arise, a person with a design background may approach the situation in a different manner. This is where I see companies considering a creative lead. The industry world is shifting faster and more often than ever before. Companies are faced with new problems and new emerging audiences that are looking for honesty and transparency. Designers are equipped to navigate and find creative solutions that could make a great difference for a successful business.

For these reasons, I see future designers moving into more leadership roles. The design process is getting easier every day with new development tools, software, and hardware. I believe designers will be devoting less time to the design process and more time with strategy and creative, conceptual problem solving. And this is great news for designers as well as the clients. With the same budgets, you’ll get the same high quality work, with more time allowed for creating moving concepts, thorough marketing strategy, and extensive testing. The role of the designer will move towards that of a manager and creative thinker. And because of this, designers should consider the future, and the possibility of using experience and knowledge to lead a company to success.