As creatives, we are so often trained to adapt our style to the task at hand. We are taught that the approach to each project should fit the challenge, and our own hand in getting there should leave no trace of our own point-of-view. Like creative chameleons, we are there to make our product or service fit the client’s wants, needs, and desires.
But we’re going to object to this one – just a little. Now before this ruffles feathers (which it does, oh my!), let us tell you why. You’re not just a conduit with impeccable taste, an impersonator of any style who also knows their way around (pick one) a laptop, a lens, a drafting table, a chef’s table, a spreadsheet, a yoga mat. Designers are not just pixel pushers, photographers are not just camera operators, writers are not just transcriptionists, nutritionists are not just diet coaches, and life coaches are not just a shoulder to cry on.
You don’t have to be a creative chameleon, erasing all trace of your own style or point of view, to create, advise, guide, and make – for others. (click to tweet)
Of course, we want to create (and create results) for our clients. But this should not be mistaken for operating on puppet strings. How do we balance approaching their wants and needs with respect and empathy – while still asserting our creative expertise?
Your creativity and your knowledge is how you serve. Your creativity is the gift you bring to the party. But what if you could be the kind of creative who’s known for her really great signature style or her tough-love approach or her unusually subtle yet instinctual approach? What if you could be that friend who doesn’t necessarily stick to the line-item gift registry, but always gives the most thoughtful, unexpected, memorable, and personalized presents?
That’s a gift in itself – to be able to create something that completely fits the person you’re giving it to, but still has this quality that always reminds them of you. They may not even realize it, but the “you” is woven in there, and it’s part of the reason they love it. You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift, you were invited for what you bring to the mix.
You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift. You were invited for what you bring to the mix. (click to tweet)
We’re not saying be a wildly unpredictable, loose cannon – the kind of creative that no one knows what they’re going to get – “when she’s great, she’s great, but don’t catch her on an off day!” We believe (strongly) in balancing this signature style point-of-view of yours with a very logical and reassuring creative process. Your process is what gets you the collaborative input you need from your client.
Try this: Start claiming your words. What are the words that describe your ideal project or engagement? Your approach? Your personal style? Your aesthetic? Are you all about handcrafted? Or clean lines? Are you more dark and evocative or whimsical and vintage? Are you a listener? Are you a tough-love cheerleader? Are you a storyteller? Are you an advocate? It’s hard narrowing in, and we know you aren’t just ONE style, but we bet you could sum up your approach in just a few words if you really had to. Think of it like the desert island question: “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only work in this one style or approach for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
Declaring your style is a small but mighty first step to becoming a creative who is sought out for their specialty. (click to tweet)
Your Style Declaration. Fill in the blanks to describe your work style or even your personal brand style: “My work style is ______ [ earthy ] ______ meets ____ [ empathetic ] ______.”
Then elaborate a little more:
“Where you might see this is when I use _______ [ one of your special skills here ] ______, or I share ________ [ one of your behind-the-scenes approaches here ] __________.”
Then make it a little more collaborative, how you get inspired, and then how you in turn inspire or guide your clients:
“I draw inspiration from ____[ what fuels you to do what you do]______________, and I hope I inspire my clients to ______[ what fuels your clients / their results / after working with you________.”
This isn’t you in a vacuum working solo without any input or collaboration, after all! But it is your style declaration. And it’s just the first small, but mighty, step in becoming a creative expert who is sought out for their ability to inspire, guide, make and deliver on their true specialty.