With the industry and clients continuing to adapt to new ways of working, the digital groundwork set today can support boutique practices and freelance designers even after the immediate crisis has passed.
“The current scenario has presented a huge shift in studio culture which will lead to new ways of working and in some areas, more efficient models will emerge,” says Rabih Geha, Founder of the Beirut-based, award-winning boutique practice Rabih Geha Architects. “Whilst it is hard to digitally replicate the entire human aspect of our profession, exploring digital tools can not only help keep clients engaged and projects on track, but also equip design businesses for the future.”
HOW DIGITAL CAN YOU GO?
Investing in a full-out digital design consultancy is both long-drawn and expensive. Designers can launch small functionalities that allow them to still bring a human touch to virtual interactions. Creating a private login area on their website is a great way to stay connected with one’s clients. Here designers can share mood boards, specs, and presentations, upload quotes, and drawings for approvals, even monitor project schedules together. It is more personal than dropbox links and creates a virtual filing system for your projects.
TIME TO EVOLVE YOUR BRANDING
Very often, in the bustle of establishing a studio and winning clients, thought towards one’s own branding doesn’t go much further than designing a logo. For those who don’t already have strong digital branding, this might just be the time to develop and implement guardrails that can apply to all your communications, delivering a sophisticated and consistent image that aligns with the business. Brand development can start simply as an internal document highlighting the tone of voice and key messaging elements, and develop into a ‘communication house’. This house will include all versions of the logo, hierarchy of fonts, color palettes and graphic elements that can be used by the team for presentations, drawings, even social channels, and newsletters. This will deliver a consistent image that reinforces brand recognition.
CONNECT, COLLABORATE, COMMUNICATE
‘We are all in this together.’ This is not just a sound bite but a call to action. This is the time to build meaningful relationships within your community and business circles. Be it brands and suppliers or media titles – everyone is looking to remain visible, often creating fresh content to connect with the existing audience and recruit new ones. Reaching out to these platforms to offer your opinion and insight can help design businesses incrementally raise their profile in the industry. This is also a great time consider one’s own social media strategies – live content, collaborations, videos – from themes like ‘How To…’ to ‘Behind the Scenes with the Team’ can generate engaging content in a lean period and can organically grow the business’s image as an opinion leader.
INVESTING IN TECH
When face-to-face brainstorming and problem solving is not possible, technology can make you more approachable. It also promotes transparency and accountability - not only within the studio, but buts also with other stakeholders such as clients and contractors. From Fuigo, that allows interior designers to manage everything from proposals and installation to tracking invoices and payments, to Ivy, that has a built-in time and expense tracker to monitor billable hours and generate client reports, there are a host of project management, financial organization, and productivity-enhancing programs that will help you design, plan, and execute projects more efficiently.
To find out more about Rabih Geha Architects, click here.