How to Stop Being Afraid of Your Designer

As social media has become a dominant force in product marketing, generating creative content has become more important than ever. Illustrations, photos and videos are the items people engage with the most and they rely heavily on design to be successful. A brand that is design conscious has a better chance of enhancing a customer’s experience. Design not only makes the purchase process easier and more viable for the customers, but it also helps provide important information that can impact all aspects of the organization.

For many companies, especially those in their adolescence, it can feel daunting to work with a designer. But fear not, because we’ve got some tips to help put you at ease:

Have a look at the designer’s portfolio – then decide if he/she is the right fit for your project. Designers have different areas of expertise (web, print, typography, illustration, animation) and a wide range of styles and technique levels. If your project has specific needs, you shouldn’t necessarily go with the first recommendation you get. Your project requirements could take some designers out of their comfort zone, and though many will rise to the challenge at hand, it may also result in a bigger time and money investment from you. Long story short – conduct thorough research on potential designers to ascertain whether or not they will fit your needs.

Before starting a project, agree to a number of revisions, as well as a timeline. Once you’ve found the right person for the job, don’t be shy to ask any questions you may have upfront. Designers have different approaches to their work so it’s important to establish expectations from each side before diving in. Set a reasonable timeline that accommodates reviewing design revisions  so you don’t have to rush to decide.

Communicate what your ultimate needs are. Give as much relevant background as you can to the designer. This will help them understand what you are trying to accomplish so they can use their expertise to get you there. Keep these considerations in mind when you’re putting the project together:

  • Who is your target audience/demographic? – Who will see and experience this creative work? Are you trying to reach an international audience?
  • Project specifications – Is your project going to be printed or displayed exclusively online? What size does this design need to be? Might you use this design in the future for another purpose?

Look at what others are doing (or not). A good way to come prepared to your first meeting with the designer is to provide him/her examples of what your competitors are doing. What colors do you want to avoid? What other logos might you be using? What campaign can you reference as an example of what you want to accomplish? You are tasking someone to help you communicate visually, so start talking visual with them!

Assign a Point of Contact (POC). While having a fresh set of eyes can sometimes be helpful, it can also divert your direction, send confusing messages to the designer, and have costly consequences. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Save yourself additional revisions and countless emails by assigning one person from your team to interface with the designer. Then, the POC should interface only with decision makers and compile the feedback in a single email to the designer.

Stay true to your brand. The best way to be on the same page as your designer is to give them a good idea of your brand style and values. If you don’t have a style guide, provide them with samples of things your company has done in the past, so they can have a good idea of what needs to be kept or changed.

Key takeaway: Before hiring someone, be sure you have a clear idea of what your needs are. Communicate your ideas in a precise and transparent way. The more successful your relationship with the designer, the happier you’ll be with the creative results.

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