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…


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?

Stop forcing your customers to pay twice

I watched a movie a couple of days ago with my wife. I’m not going to admit what movie it was, other than to say it was a chick flick…. ok a teen chick flick.

Anyway, my wife actually bought this movie so she can watch it over and over again whenever she feels the need (oh please no more).

But heres the problem

We load up the dvd, watch the dolby intro and the ‘pirates are costing you money’ announcement (don’t get me started), and 10 minutes of ads…

What the hell?

Five movie previews that we can’t fast forward!

Did I mention we paid for this dvd? not rented Bought! But now here we are spending our recreational time being forced to watch ads for the studios latest movies or special behind the scenes whatever…

I know someone worked out that we are now a captive audience and they should let us know of other titles we can buy off them… That is plain stupid. We paid for the movie, now we have to watch SPAM.

Heres what they should have done

Don’t force me to watch these Previews Ads. Stick them as a menu option, right beside the deleted scenes. Call them something like ‘similar movies’ or ‘suggested films’ (or probably something much better).

Now they’re not spam anymore, they are added value. Why? because we have the choice to watch them. The crazy thing is we would probably watch them happily.

What examples do you have of post sale silliness?

Marketing lessons from the wine industry

How do you stand out from all the wine labels

How do you stand out from all these wine labels

Here in Marlborough it is hard to escape the wine industry, it is a huge part of our regional economy.

I was in the supermarket the other day and run into a friend of mine who has a reasonably young wine label, and it got me thinking…

With supermarket shelves lined with hundreds of brands, how do you make your bottle of wine stand out and reach your customers?

One simple marketing strategy used for years by wineries, big and small, is offering free tastings of their product.   How often have you been asked if you would you like to try a glass of wine in the supermarket?

Here’s why this is a great way to market your brand of wine:

  1. They go to where the customers are – customers are already in the supermarket.  If they are going to buy a bottle of wine, who do they see?  If they like the wine, they can grab a bottle and buy it immediately.
  2. The customer is being offered something for free, no obligation.  Lets be honest, we all like free stuff.
  3. People are creatures of habit – A free tasting is an easy way to try something new.
  4. It takes away the customers fear of buying a bottle of wine and hating it.  They already know what it tastes like before parting with their hard earned cash.

I think it works even better for smaller players in the market.  It gives them a chance to put a face to the brand and start a conversation with the customers.  They can tell a story about their wine and relate it to the customer easier than a sales rep from a large company.

How can you use this idea in your business?

  • What can you offer potential customers for free? Remember, wineries only give away a small taste, not whole bottles of wine.  Can you offer a taste of your product or service?
  • Is there a place your products or services are frequently purchased or used?  Can you have a presence there to meet them?
  • What fears do customers have about purchasing your products or services?  Can you offer a try before you buy deal or a satisfaction guarantee?

photo credit: rick

Hair today, record for tomorrow

Somewhere between my last post, and getting my photo taken, I got thinking about Hair salons.

The trouble I have always had with getting my hair cut, is explaining what I want to the hair dresser.  I can never express how I want it, or even how I have had it before. A few times I have resorted to cutting a picture from a magazine and handing it over – “I want my hair to look like this, as long as it won’t make me look stupid”.

So why don’t Salons take pictures of their clients?  Before and after shots every time they come in, would make it easy to discuss with the client what they liked and what they didn’t.  It would build a tangible history with their clients.  Do you think this would build loyalty from the client when the hairdresser puts that much effort into knowing what they like?

Could be very interesting looking back after a year or two.

How could this idea be used in other businesses?