While most designers have at one point or another asked their clients to "sign on the dotted line," they may also find it useful to develop ways to create their own "design signature."
So says Susan Serra, CKD, president of Northport, NY-based Susan Serra Associates, who led the "Leaving Your Mark: Developing a Unique Design 'Signature'" seminar at last month's Kitchen & Bath Design & Remodeling Expo at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA.
According to Serra, not only will finding your own niche help you to create more effective designs, but it will also quickly build a strong referral base and lead to greater profits.
"The value of creating your own design signature is it makes the client feel good about their kitchen, and people will talk to their friend's and family about you and the project," she exclaims.
To that end, Serra says that designers have both tangible and intangible marks at their disposal to help them better build their client base.
For instance, designers can get their work published, gain a reputation for specific design elements or simply be known for great enthusiasm and a willingness to try new ideas.
"Ideas that cause fundamental changes are very powerful," she says, adding that strong ideas and enthusiasm breed trust, loyalty, confidence and respect.
But, she warns, it's crucial to reassure the client that, as the designer, you would always be willing to go back to the original plan, if needed. This will inspire confidence so that the client feels comfortable having you blend new ideas with more traditional ones, helping you to develop a unique design style.
Serra also suggests the importance of explaining to clients how their project stands out from others. After all, most clients crave a "designer original," Serra believes. Therefore, it is vital to cite concrete reasons for how it is unique, whether it is unusual textured countertops or out-of-the-ordinary moldings.
"When you can leave your design signature with the client, it will help build client loyalty, increased referrals and a positive local reputation," she concludes.