No one likes mediocrity. Let me state that again, No one likes mediocrity, which is a reason why you should always give your best. Recently, I was brutally reminded of that lesson on a recent project and the final result left a bad taste in my mouth.
I was asked to create branding for an organization and being that I fully support what they’re behind and I happen to know one of the heads of it I decided to help out and do a favor for a friend. If you already saw a red flag for doing a favor for a friend, I would partially agree, but the real red flag was deciding to not to do the project at my standard rate.
When I decided to work on it, I followed the guidelines and what the client wanted, but it just didn’t have my passion and flare for it to be kick ass. I just did what was asked, which can be fine as long as your final result as that “wow” factor and in my case that was not it. It was an ugly design AND I KNEW IT. How could I ever do such a thing? ! What’s even more ridiculous was that the client liked it. Whew! I was off the hook, right? NOPE. I was told they also hired another designer and that the organization’s board will vote between the two logos. Once that was mentioned I dropped a long F-bomb. I knew my design was not going to get chosen and you may say, “Joe, don’t think like that. Be positive.” Normally I would, but I didn’t give my best. It was not only insulting to the client, but to me!
Why did I give the client mediocrity? I don’t know for sure. Maybe it was the low pay, but then again I worked pro bono with this organization because I truly stood behind the work they were doing. Could it be I was slammed with work? Possibly, but that means I should’ve delegated my work out and scheduled the appropriate time to do it properly instead of just getting it done. Could it be I was unmotivated by the design concept? I certainly was not excited by the overall concept, but guess what? I didn’t provide an alternative concept. It’s as though I was a beginner making rookie mistakes.
Now it’s quite embarrassing to share this story, but it’s important that I explain my lessons that I’ve learned for not giving my all.
Treat every project as though it is a high paying one– Even if it is low paying, you took the job and you should it give the proper treatment where quality does not suffer.
You’re only as good as your last job– This is absolutely true when it comes to any field where you provide a service, so people will remember what you gave them. That determines whether hire you again or not and also leads me to my next point…
Your mediocrity will be connected with you on social media– Some clients will link, tag, etc. you with the work that you have done for them. If the design is garbage, people will associate you with it and it may do damage as a designer which means no jobs which means no money which means you end up poor and possibly living in a van right down by the river. Keep your rep solid with great work.
Provide an alternative solution– Designers are problem solvers. We may do so artistically, but we’re problem solvers not artists. If you do not like a concept provide a different one. I recently did that on another project and it worked out in my favor as the design that I brought to the table was better and more appropriate than the original one. I’ve provided alternative solutions many times and it works, sometimes the clients get their…sometimes. It’s important that you do this.
Time Management– Schedule your work schedule where you’re not overloaded with work. I know freelancers take on everything, but whether you’re a freelancer or a firm, schedule your work where you’re not stressed from the workload or burnt out. Delegate the work elsewhere if you need to and/or can.
Always stay hungry-There’s no excuse that if I had known there was another designer working on a design I would’ve busted my ass to have the number one design. I’m a competitive individual and have a bit of a ego, but I kept it too cool, cooler than a cucumber assuming I could getaway with taking it easy. Never take it easy. Nothing is guaranteed, so if you think that life will slap you across the face. Compete with yourself to bring out the best work.
These are lessons that I needed to be reminded. I know now that I can’t ever let this happen again and hopefully this stops you from doing the same. I want to provide the best work that I can give. Some times that’ll be good enough and sometimes it doesn’t work with the client and that’s okay. It’s better to give your best than provide a bland design and know that you could have done better, but didn’t.