The architecture world is full of photos that make people drool. It’s an aesthetically-charged profession, with awesome resources like ArchDaily and Architizer making a high percentage of the profession feel inadequate.

The dirty little secret is that every project isn’t making the cut for the next issue of (insert coffee table design magazine of choice here). In fact, MOST projects don’t make the cut and most firms don’t have a Hadid, Pei, Wright, etc. at the helm. And guess what, that’s ok!

To be enjoyable, fulfilling, marketable and highly successful, your work doesn’t have to be sexy. Well, at least it doesn’t have to be considered sexy by EVERYONE. It has to be considered sexy by your potential clients and more importantly by you. That means that you’re not trying to compete with the museum design firm down the street to win the next warehouse job, even if they’re going after it against you. You just have to share your value, your skills and your experience in language that the client understands and needs to hear. You have to solve the challenges they have, not wow them with a bunch of stuff they didn’t ask for.

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering firms often get caught up in this as well, assuming that there isn’t much of a story to tell in their work beyond a few bullet points with square footage and technical info. That’s just not the case.

The story is there, and it’s what your clients and partners need to hear to select you for the next project. It’s explaining your project scope and effort as a series of challenges that are similar to the ones they are likely examining in the next project RIGHT NOW. It’s being bold enough to use targeted, client-specific language that may alienate others but will set you apart as an expert in their project. It’s realizing that a photo and description of a huge data center or server room may put some people to sleep, but will impress the clients that have been trying to solve their uptime challenges for months now.

Some people like glasses, some like brunettes, some like surfers, some like librarians. Whether your portfolio represents the sports car or the smart car – your clients will think it’s sexy if you position it right, and you’re talking to the right clients.