There comes a time in every business’ existence when you need a professional graphic designer. And when that moment finally arrives, know that there are three things you can do to foster a productive and fruitful relationship. Whether it’s a new or refreshed logo, brochure, rack card, banner or tradeshow booth you need created, consider these tips:
Spend some time reflecting on the picture you have in your head (or heads, if you are working as part of a team) of what you need a graphic designer to produce for you and define it as specifically as you can.
If you aren’t sure what your vision is, gather samples of other companies’ materials that you like or do a quick search online of what you’re having designed (e.g. “accountant logo” or “baker brochure”). Make note of your reactions, both positive and negative.
It’s also valuable to think about the graphics in everyday life you find appealing. This can help you hone in on your general style preference. Do you gravitate towards a modern, vintage or timeless style? What colors do you like, or perhaps more importantly, really dislike? Doing a bit of soul searching up front will save you frustration later on and keep your dream design from being a moving target.
Now that you have a preliminary idea of what you want, you need to clearly and completely communicate this—through words, pictures or examples—to the designer you are working with.
The more you share upfront, the better equipped your graphic designer will be to create something that is in line with your expectations. Graphic designers are a wildly talented group, but among their many skills, you will not find “Mind Reader” listed. It can be helpful to describe what you are looking for in 3-5 words, and if possible, to boil your vision down to a single word.
The design process is iterative and is intended to move you towards a final product that reflects the original vision. As you review a series of design proofs, it’s just as important to identify what is working as it is to comment on what you don’t like. Remember the baby that got thrown out with the bathwater? The lesson applies here too.
And speaking of the design review process, give careful thought to who will be part of your reviewing team. Resist the urge to include too many people and be clear about how feedback within your team will be compiled and relayed to the designer. We all work most effectively when we’re getting clear, unified direction from one person.
Know thyself, yes, but be open to your designer’s recommendations or you will miss out on their fresh eye and broad range of experience and expertise.
Graphic designers understand what colors, shapes, and fonts translate on logos when they are reduced on a business card, enlarged on a sponsorship banner or copied in black and white. They know how photos will translate when printed on a rack card or brochure or what fonts are most readable on material that appears both in print and online. So if they suggest something that is not a literal translation of the examples you provided, don’t be thrown. The final choice is always yours, but don’t rush to judgment without carefully considering the advice being given.
In the end, you’ll get out of your relationship with your graphic designer what you put into it.
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Read this case study about a successful design collaboration.