As I’ve worked with a variety of clients, I’ve seen a whole variety of situations in eager and well-meaning business owners. Everyone wants a new logo yesterday, and sometimes excitement overtakes preparation. Hearing questions from clients has really helped me become more clear in my process and better serve them as a designer. There are some great ways to make working with a designer more seamless, and this is my best advice for someone who want to work with a designer:
Know your business first.
While branding is an essential part of building a viable business, it is so important to understand your business and who you are serving before you begin to touch the branding process. It’s easy to get so excited about your new venture that you want to have a logo and business cards as soon as you come up with the idea. However, you should know things like who your target audience is, what type of person will be using your services, and how you want people to feel about your brand. This helps the designer figure out the best way to build your branding.
It’s totally fine if you don’t know exactly what type of logo you want (that’s why you hire a designer), but knowing who you want to appeal to and what sort of aesthetic type you are looking for is essential. For example, saying, “I’m a restaurant that serves food – I haven’t quite decided what yet,” may be an accurate description of where you’re at in building your business, but it is of no help to your designer. Figuring out that you are “a boutique café focusing on local produce and green living that serves vegetarians on the go,” or “an experimental culinary hub that serves unique meats in a family style presentation in a cozy dining setting” changes the outcome so much. A designer is building your brand so that it appeals to your customers, not simply to your own specific tastes.
Have all of your content ready to go.
Design solves problems, and it is meant to organize and beautifully present your content. And I get it: it is super exciting to be working on your brand, and you want that pretty website/logo/press kit NOW. But, nothing is more frustrating in the process than when you get all set up with a designer and then say, “Well, I’m still working out what to call my services, so can you hang on while I work that?” or, “Can you just design the website while I work on getting photos and writing the copy?” In short: no. It makes it pretty hard to design a way to organize your information if the designer doesn’t even know what that info is! Your copy and your photos all influence the design product. My best analogy is that you wouldn’t invite a photographer to your house to take newborn photos while you’re still pregnant, right? There would be nothing to work with.
One caveat to this is when a designer has a wait time or you have to get on his/her schedule in advance. It’s great to get in touch with your chosen designer when you know you want to work with that person to see about their schedule, and if they have a two-month wait, you’ll be prepared for that. But, don’t sign on to work with someone effective immediately if you know your copy won’t be ready for two more months.
Don’t ask for a duplicate of something that already exists.
If you don’t have design software and instead simply email a designer saying, “Yo, I love the Glitter Guide logo, can you just make me that same concept with my business name?” Um, no. That’s called blatantly copying someone’s property, but also it is completely boring. While it’s essential to have inspiration and give examples of brands and styles you love, the goal of hiring a designer is to create something that’s uniquely you. Having a nearly identical logo is like showing up at a party in the exact same dress as someone else. Embarrassing…
Along those same lines, it’s not very respectful if you are dictating exactly how your logo or website should look, saying things like, “I want this font and this color and number of pixels between shapes blah blah…” If you know exactly what your logo should be looking like, then why did you hire a designer? The most exciting part about working with a designer is picking their brain and using their professional expertise to create something perfect for your brand. Let your designer ask the questions, and then see where their knowledge takes your brand.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and communicate.
There can be lots of lingo when you hire a professional in a field that is not your own. But, we designers don’t expect that you are experts, or else why would you have hired us? If there is something unclear about what your designer is asking for, why he/she is asking for something, or especially if you don’t understand the process, speak up! A good designer will be more than happy to explain.
Asking questions is also a great way to gauge whether your working styles are a good fit. Learning about a designer’s work, process, and style all help indicate whether you will enjoy working with him/her and if their work will be a good fit for your needs.
What have you learned working with professionals like designers, developers, copywriters, etc? Any tips to share or comments on being the client?