A few weeks ago, Madeline and I sat down to discuss the blog, which, as some of you may have noticed, has been pretty quiet (ahem). It seemed natural to make this first blog post about THE question everybody asks themselves before jumping into working with a Graphic Designer: what is it really going to be like?
Many of our clients are pretty new to this –an interesting sign that things are rapidly changing; communication and image have never been so important to develop a brand, no matter what the field is*. This makes us all the more excited to share with you the experience of working with a Graphic Designer, in terms that will hopefully make the whole process of choosing a graphic designer a little less daunting.
So here it is… You have a genius idea, a genius product, or a genius campaign to launch… and you’ve finally decided to hire the services of a graphic designer. Congrats!
Whether you already have a specific vision for the project or no clue whatsoever, it all boils down to a few key steps:
Set your goals
The Graphic Designer / Project Manager will usually set an initial consultation, either on the phone or in person. The people working on your project will need to understand your brand, message and intention for it. According to the type and size of the project at hand, you may have to fill a questionnaire (commonly referred to as the “Getting started questions”) which will allow the design team to get a more detailed idea of your goals, priorities and vision for the project.
This step is important because it allows the designer and the client to get to know each other; Graphic Design is a very collaborative process, so understanding our client, and vice versa, is really the key to a successful project.
To make this as smooth as possible (and avoid wasting your time and money), we recommend that you take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your goals? What –specifically- do you seek to achieve through this project?
- Who is your key audience?
- How does this project serve or fall into your overall strategy for your brand / organization?
Once again, this is really your time to build trust and understanding with your designer; it’s your time to express yourself and give as much detail as possible, on not only the project itself, but also your entire vision for your brand. You shouldn’t hesitate to provide examples of other organizations, campaigns, logos, etc. that inspire you. If you don’t know what you like, but know what you don’t like, that’s good for the Designer to know as well.
After this step is completed, you will usually receive a proposal and/or agreement outlining the different services provided, goals, fees, resources, and the timeline for the project. Once you’ve signed and provided all the relevant info to the design team, that’s when the magic really starts happening.
Expect several rounds of revisions
Shortly after you’ve sent in all the necessary information, you will receive a first version of the design –usually a pretty exciting moment! While the Designer will always do their best to bring your idea to life, you might want to make a few tweaks or changes to the result. The design might also inspire you to add new elements to the initial project; you might want to change small details, etc. Regardless of the nature of the project, you should expect a few rounds of revisions before you reach the final result.
Don’t worry –the designer will have taken this into account when establishing the timeline for the project and, provided you maintain good and regular communication, this shouldn’t affect the project’s end date.
Going back and forth a few times is in fact completely normal and a key component to a successful project.
How much communication should you be expecting?
The amount of communication you’ll have with the Designer is mostly up to you. Sure, you’ll need to put in the time necessary in the beginning to share your vision and goals for the project, and the Designer will expect you to provide feedback and / or approval on their deliverables. But beyond that, you will decide how much you want to be involved in the creative process.
Some clients have a very definite idea of what they want and what the final product should achieve, and choose to communicate with the Designer on a nearly daily basis. Other clients prefer a “hands-off” approach, and that’s totally fine –the Designer is a creative professional, who knows what they are doing and how to achieve the most effective visuals.
Either way, you should expect the Designer to maintain excellent communication. Here at Communiqué, we make sure to answer emails or return phone calls within 12 hours; we keep track of our projects and timelines through Teamwork, and notify our clients every time a new task is completed. If a Designer expects delays or problems, they should also notify you immediately.
Trust the Designer!
No matter how involved you choose to be in the project and no matter what the project is, this is one of the most important rules you should observe.
You’ve chosen a Graphic Designer that you entrust with the task of bringing your brand or message to life. Standing by that choice, and fully putting your trust in your Designer is essential to getting the best possible quality for the final design; not to mention it facilitates smooth communication and averts any frustration on both sides! A Client who trusts their Designer isn’t tempted to “micromanage” the projects, and allows the Designer to focus both on the tiny details and the larger picture.
While we always respect our clients’ artistic sense and intuition, a good design work is built on mutual trust. The Designer should trust that the Client will provide all the necessary information, as well as timely, (constructive) and clear feedback; in turn, the Client should trust the Designer’s eye, their experience in solving visual problems and developing compelling designs, as well as their ability to bring an abstract vision to life.
You should feel comfortable with the Designer you decide to go with, and trust that they’ve understood who you are and the direction you wish to take.
*(stay tuned for our next post about Science Communication :-))