In today’s world of increasing competition, the success of a design firm can simply be hinged on design communication where the architect’s portfolio becomes the most critical component. Tanya Khanna, Architect and Director of Epistle communications, briefs on the importance of projecting a correct image to help a design firm grow in the field of architecture, as is prevelant internationally.
As architects and designers we are all inherently trained to let our work speak for itself. While image is probably the most vital component for the success of a design business, stuck in the everyday rut of work, meetings, deadlines and ensuring the deliverance of good design, often we do not tap into our strengths and how that can be a path to growth.
Traditionally, most Indian designers and design practices steer away from communication activities. But, internationally, strategic communication practices are quite common. What’s more, internal communication is as important as external communication. Curation needs to happen internally which will result in external visibility and an engagement through design with the outside world. Tools for communication today are evolving from static print media of profiles, portfolios, brochures and publications, to web media, social media and other virtual tools. To keep pace with rapidly changing practices and be at par with new values of the global economy, it is important to step back and innovate.
In the globalised world of today, where markets are in constant motion, new business and recognition can be generated through multiple means. Within the milieu of innovation, technology and information overload, originality and creativity are simply lost in the deluge of the data that is produced globally. The foremost challenge is the notion that good design speaks for itself and hence most professionals simply do not bother to talk about their work and the ideas behind it. The other challenge is that in the humdrum of monotonous daily routine work, most designers and design firms, lack housekeeping. There is usually no dearth of content and all that is required is Curation.The projects are all on file, the drawings/photographs are usually available, but typically studios and especially the smaller ones, lack the simple processes that can enable extraction of content, cleaning it up in order for it to be of communicable quality and curated for media visibility.
The Communication Process
The premise of communication activity begins with the intention for discourse and creating interest for recognition. A range of activities can aid communications activities like websites, design portfolio and social media. Events and exhibitions as other effective tools to communicate design work. The oversight is usually the incorrect perception of the communication activities. While, stories can be easily created, it is imperative to lay emphasis on communicating design, based purely on process and the strength of design intent. Instead of shying away from words such as strategy, brand recall and brand differentiation, integrate these concepts into the studio methodology. What is also crucial is the acknowledgment of the fact that each firm is unique. Designers need to be identified for the final product that they deliver, their thought processes and how their designs are representative of their intentions. As designers, while, our work does speak for itself, the process of recoginition often relies more on how our work is perceived.
There is no fixed plan or manual that can identify an effective communication strategy for a designer or an architect. Each individual/firm is unique with a distinct design ethos, the work and the communication plan must resonate those ethos, both as a means and an end. What is imperative for both young firms and for those who are established is the identification of an apt approach and a simple, ingenuous strategy with a strong vision and a commitment to the future of design.