I am currently reading “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding” a phenomenal book about marketing and branding written by Al Ries. One of the laws of effective branding is the law of contraction. Ries explains that companies (and might I venture to add independent designers or freelancers in general) are likely to be more successful if they focus their energies on one specific skill instead of trying to master a number of different ones.
Jack of all trades, master of none?
The popular phrase “Jack of all trades” has, over time, been modified. Now, you frequently hear “Jack of all trades, master of none. Is this true for graphic and web designers as well? Are we likely to be more successful if we focus our efforts on one specific skill instead of trying to be well-trained and proficient in all things design-related?
I would argue that it is absolutely applicable to those of us in the design profession. I have recently visited a number of designers’ portfolio web sites. I frequently see a phrase like this: “I design logos, posters, web sites, brochures, and more.” This is a typical marketing blunder-offering more services does not necessarily mean that you will find more customers.
The future of marketing is in the niche
It used to be that you could market yourself as a do-it-all sort of person or company. With the way marketing and advertising are headed, however, only those who can successfully target a niche audience will really thrive. Consider the following scenarios:
While these examples may have been somewhat exaggerated, the point is simple: targeting a niche market as a designer will help you refine skills in that particular area,will increase recognition, boost sales, and improve client referrals.
Designers who have mastered specialization
There are many more examples of designers who are a great example of successfully marketing and dominating in a particular design niche. Who else can you think of? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
It’s all about positioning
What’s positioning? It’s a simple marketing term that relates to the position you or your company possesses in the mind of the consumer. When you hear the phrase “fun & reliable computer” which machine comes to mind? Apple of course. They have worked hard to solidify that positioning in the mind of the consumer. What about “photo editing”– you think Photoshop, right? What about “design blogs”? Perhaps you think of Smashing Magazine.
Now let’s try it with you and your design career. When a client thinks “I need a logo designer,” who do they call? Those who have established themselves in that position within the consumer’s mind.
Now think for yourself: how have you positioned yourself and your design work?
What’s your specialty?
So what have you decided to specialize in? What are you going to be the best at? Are you going to master branding & identity packages, information graphics, food packaging, stationery, web design, advertising, or something else?