What is Your Design Style?
By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University
“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” Coco Chanel
How important is it to you to have an easily identified design style? If you feel it is not important, then why is that? And if you feel it is important, how would you define your design style?
You may rebel against having an identifiable style, worrying about losing prospective design clients, but ask yourself if you truly want to be all things to all people. Also think how you focus your marketing efforts (money AND time) to appeal to these prospective clients? After all, you have no defined target market. That can be exhausting and stressful.
You may also worry about being too limited by a specific style because you enjoy variety in your work. If you are so successful that you have ideal clients flocking to you without marketing and the design jobs are so large that you are able to pick and choose, then congratulations – keep doing what you are doing. But I would guess that describes an extremely small segment of designers.
And most designers who have gained success and name recognition do have distinctive styles – yet their designs are not “cookie cutter”. John Saladino pioneered a look that remains as fresh today as when he began creating it in the 1960’s and ’70’s and his firm is as busy as ever. Or Barbara Barry, whose “look speaks to quiet luxury, comfort and ease – supporting her design philosophy that living simply and with quality is the highest form of luxury” to quote from her website.
Defining your style is a direct connection to your ideal client profile(s). Once you clearly identify your ideal clients, you can become laser focused toward more effective and efficient marketing. This becomes a reflection of your brand and if your brand is clear, your design style will sell itself – to your ideal clients!
Your “style” does not have to be as limiting as you may think if it is timeless. According to Coco Chanel, certainly an iconic style setter, “Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” If you have developed an effective style, then your branded style will draw your ideal clients. It does not have to be because of a specific color scheme, style of furniture, etc. as much as the emotional reaction it evokes. Connecting with the emotions puts the financial focus in the rear seat.
Ralph Lauren has had an effective brand/style but as he states: “I don’t design clothes, I design dreams.” Does your style include the ability to “design the dreams” of your ideal clients?” If so, you will probably have those clients for life and they will be an excellent referral source. And if your brand reflects that ability to design dreams, you have created an exceptional style!
As you define your style, remember the importance of the little things and the advice of Charles Eames “The details are not the details. They make the design.”
The first step to branding your business is identifying your core values and aligning them with your business. Check out my post: Align Your Business With Your Values.