How Mint created two beautiful new Detroit debit cards

This Detroit riverfront scene was created by Mint’s Natasha Guest as a Detroit debit card. © Natasha Guest, 2021

Our first corporate design project started with a bunch of nos – and something boring created by somebody else. It ended with two artists creating original art that will appear on a thousands of credit union members’ debit cards.

In between, our work took weeks of time, plenty of listening, creativity and follow up – and we learned some lessons we want to share on creating for companies. We share some of them here.

Persistence works. One Detroit Credit Union already was well-known to Mint co-founder Vickie Elmer, who has been a member for many years. She had asked its president several times to support Mint with a paid project – and in the process, met other senior leaders. Each time before this, the answer had been not now, or that doesn’t quite work. Yet she continued to send updates and ideas. So when they had a project, they already knew Mint was an eager possibility.

Create to your client – and narrow the possibilities.  We knew the previous design firm had developed rather predictable Detroit imagery (and those had been rejected). So we knew we could let our creativity run, as long as it also resonated with One Detroit Credit Union. Still we knew we had to spend time discussing ideas among ourselves and with our client before starting creative work. Two short conversations are better than one. We heard from both the president and the amazing woman leading the project on ideas. Come up with a key message and write it down and share it.  Ours was: “Detroit is resilient, tough and full of good people. Detroit is our home and we love it.”

Build in extra time.   You will need both patience and hustle for most corporate projects. If the client is new or has several people who will review your ideas and work, add some time to you timeline for the back and forth, and changes required. Also senior executives go on vacation and have other priorities than your project, so expect to wait quite a bit. If you think it could take four weeks to complete, double that and estimate nine weeks.

Go above and beyond. “Our goal must be to exceed our customers’ expectations every day,” said Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s restaurant chain. That is a big goal – yet one Mint embraces.

One Detroit Credit Union wanted one strong image for a Detroit debit card. We decided to give them two – from two talented Mint Artists Eleanor Aro and Natasha Guest. We also brought in a creative mentor who had corporate design experience. We knew it was possible only one image would be chosen. But we worked thoughtfully to offer two excellent choices – and they took them both.

Mint is grateful to One Detroit Credit Union for this opportunity and we hope to work with two businesses in 2022 on creative projects. Contact us if you want to tap our creative youth artists for something spectacular.