Confessions of a Designer

by | Jan 3, 2021 | Design, Marketing Strategy

I have a confession.


I was once a basic graphic designer. I cringe using the word basic to describe anything, especially myself. So, this is tough to admit.

How was I basic? Clients would ask me to design a project for them and I’d take the order. First, I’d ask a few high-level questions that would give me a general direction of what they were expecting to be delivered to fill in the creative brief. I’d even do some research on their company and industry before I’d create the thing they asked for – a brochure. A flyer. A postcard. A business card. A logo.

Often times, the client was delighted by the result of the first version. However, there were other times, admittedly, I missed the mark. The design wasn’t quite what the client was looking for, but they couldn’t describe exactly what they liked. They’d know it when they saw it. These projects would take much longer with multiple revisions and cause frustration for me and the client.

Another confession.

I’m a people pleaser. I don’t want to disappoint any client by not delivering on a promise. So, as clients struggled to explain what they liked, I’d go back to the drawing board multiple times to finally land on an acceptable product. Because I also believe in keeping my word to deliver a project for the price I promised, these projects were usually not profitable.

Then something changed.

I’m a designer. A creative at heart. I’m also a businesswoman. I believe in my ability to add value for companies and deliver an excellent product. So, I sought advice from other creative experts and discovered a process that would help me and my clients avoid the mistakes of my past.

The process is called CORE and it was developed by Blind in Santa Monica. CORE is a method of discovery that uncovers a company’s true value. CORE helps companies better understand their customers’ struggles and desires so that they can add more value to their products or services. CORE generates ideas for reaching potential customers and for nurturing clients to develop long-lasting loyalty. The workshop helps entrepreneurs and executives to articulate what their brand does, what they want it to look and sound like so that when a designer creates a product to represent their company, they have a road map or instruction manual for getting it right.

Confessions of a Designer

Now, when a client asks for a brochure or a logo, I have a different approach. I truly believe that the discovery process saves time, frustration, and adds tremendous value.

The CORE process has helped me and my clients to create a framework for messaging that describes the brand. Words matter. How your brand is described should reflect I believe in the power of messaging.

I once believed that great design could be achieved at the skilled hand of a designer. I now believe that design-thinking is what is necessary to build and maintain a great brand.

“The designer does not begin with some preconceived idea. Rather, the idea is the result of careful study and observation and the design a product of that idea.”
– Paul Rand

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Stacey Harrison

About the Author

Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.