7 ways to get the best from your Graphic Designer

Business card graphic designA Graphic Designer can take your business to the next level. Slick, well designed promotional materials speak volumes to your clients and prospects about your professionalism and quality of service (or products).

Your relationship with your graphic designer and the quality of your communications, can make all the difference to the final result.

Here are 7 tips to get the best possible work from your designer:

1. Know what you are trying to achieve with the design

When you are paying for an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, what is the goal of the ad? To sell something? To position your business in the market? The end design will have a different feel and calls to action depending on the goal.

If you don’t know the goal of a given promotion, STOP. Don’t bother asking your designer to come up with anything until you know what you want it for.

2. Who is your target market and what is the aim of the work?

A design targeted at 18 year old mountain bikers is going to look different to one aimed at 40 year old mothers. That is pretty obvious, but important.

Are you wanting to inspire, educate or shock your audience? Great graphic design elicits an emotional reaction from the viewer, and different groups are going to react differently to colours and imagery.

The old cliche, ‘If everyone is an audience, then no-one is your audience’, holds true. You are better to be loved by some and hated by others rather than ignored by all.

3. An idea of what you want it to look like.

Stop here for a minute. I don’t mean you should turn up with the design already done. But it can help a designer greatly to give some examples of work you like. Or even better, some of your current promotional materials as this helps with continuity within your brand.

“I’ll know it when I see it” doesn’t help.

There is nothing worse for a designer to work hard on some concepts and you all of a sudden realise that they are nothing like what you had in mind – tell them what you have in mind from the start and discuss it with your Graphic designer.

Do some research of design you like online (even from different industries). Ask yourself how adventurous are you willing to be to stand out from the crowd?

4. Make sure you have the information your graphic designer will need to complete your job.

Each job will be different, but most will at least need these in some form or another.

  • High resolution logo
  • Any images you use.
  • Examples of your current branding or promotional materials (to make sure the branding is consistent).
  • The copy you want to use including a call to action and contact details.

It’s a great idea to keep all of your resources and marketing materials in one folder on your computer, so you always know where they are. Once you have an ongoing relationship with a designer, they will likely keep these on file as well, but it pays to keep your own copies, just in case.

5. Set a reasonable timeframe

Tomorrow is not reasonable.

Allow for time to review and critique the designers concepts as they supply them to you. Constructive feedback is critical to get the end result that you want.

With an important job such as a company logo, that will be the face of the company for potentially years in the future, allow time for discussion and back and forth changes.

6. Discuss issues early.

If the design isn’t going in a direction you are happy with, let your designer know as early as possible. Throwing out a couple of hours work is a lot easier than an entire days effort. And cheaper, as the final cost is based on creative time spent.

7. Care about the design you are asking for.

If you don’t care about it, your designer can tell and you won’t get the best results.
It is hard to put in 100% effort for someone that isn’t going to appreciate it.

How do you let your designer know you care?

Sell your business to your designer, tell them where you are going and what you are going to acheive. Get them excited about your business and they’ll do their best to get you there.

Oh, and do all of the steps above…

Conclusion

What a Graphic Designer does… is make things look cool… but more than that, they aim to relate the work to the target audience through colour, images and text. They are trying to tell a story of your business or offer and entice the viewer to engage with it.

The more work you do with a designer, the better they will understand you, your business and your goals.

Do you have any burning questions about working with a Graphic Designer?

A great illustration of the importance of first impressions

I am always searching and reading as much as I can about marketing and branding to make sure we can keep up with the newest and best techniques people are coming up with.

Anyway, I stumbled on this post the other day.  It is a short video that really gets across the point I made the other day in my paint the fence post, about the importance of a first impression.

Head over here now and check out this post… the video is only about a minute long, and totally worth a look:

First Mental Image should draw you in! (video version)

Do something different, Stand out

A strong Brand is the most important asset a business can have.  Traditionally branding has been considered a part of marketing startegy, but I consider marketing to be a part of your branding strategy.  Here is a definition of branding that I really like and agree with:

“Branding is about getting people to perceive you as the only solution to their problem” Rob Frankel

So how do you build a brand like this?

Companies like Coca-cola, American express, and the Warehouse, spend literally millions of dollars to be the leaders in their markets.  Advertising is an expensive way to maintain market position and branding.

The better way to become number one is to offer something that no-one else offers, Do something completely different from everybody else. If you are already in business, how can you change your industry, if others are fighting coming change, embrace it and stand up as the first and only.

Seth Godin would call this a purple cow…  Something that is so different from anything else, that it gets noticed.

Do something that others will talk about!

Why build a brand anyway?

So why spend so much time, effort and money to build a brand?

Its hard not to noticed the price difference between branded products and generic versions when grocery shopping.  Watties tomato sauce for example can be twice the price of a supermarket brand.  I’m not even going to get into whether Watties tastes better.   My point is that the costs for making Watties, or a generic brand of tomato sauce is likely to be much the same.  So the difference in mark-up is one measure of the value of the Watties brand. 

A strong brand adds value to your products or services by differentiating them from your competitors, establishing credibility, gaining trust and therefore customer loyalty.

In fact, back to the Watties sauce example, I have an uncle that left New Zealand almost 15 years ago to live in Oklahoma USA, who still has Watties tomato sauce posted to him by the box…  Now that is brand loyalty!

The great news is that even with well targeted branding and marketing strategies, all businesses can reap the benefits of building a brand.

Your brand is more than just a name and logo

Your brand is the sum of every interaction and communication your customers have with your business.

Too often I see people who name their business, get a logo and a business card, thinking they have a brand.  When really all they have is a name, logo and a business card. Obviously these are the important visual elements in a brand. However they need to fit into a broader framework of communication with your target audience.

When you need to buy business shoes, which shop do you go to first?  Why do you think of these shops?  Do they have the cheapest shoes, or the best quality?  Are the salespeople friendly, professional, knowledgeable?  Do they run a loyalty scheme?  Have you heard good things about them from others?  Maybe a store is running a sale?

All of the above factors, along with many more, are aspects of the shoe stores’ brand.  Often, as customers we are not even aware of these individual factors and we instead assimilate them into a single view of the business.  We then subconsciously use this view to make our shopping and buying decisions.

When branding our own business, we need to ensure how all of these factors express our brand.