How to get the best from your graphic designer...

Are you a client who has provided a rough creative brief. Given your designer ‘a blank canvas’ but found the final result lacking in creative design?

Are you a designer who has found yourself working to what you believed to be your client’s objectives. Only to discover (often too late), that you’ve missed the mark completely? You’re likely to have been missing one crucial ingredient…

INFORMATION

There is a saying in life that ‘You get out what you put in’. This is never truer than in the case of graphic design. Graphic design is about crafting solutions to real problems. This requires understanding and for understanding, there must be information. Without information (a meaningful insight), designers will have to resort to an awful lot of guesswork. Which is not a great basis for a successful project. While they may be able to produce something that looks great (that should be a given with a professional). Will, it hit the mark when it comes to solving your problem, achieving your objectives or generating results?

A designer who takes the time to unravel your mind and get to know you will always deliver better results. If your designer doesn’t understand you, your audience won’t either.

Design is the intermediary between information and understanding

- Hans Hofmann

NEED TO KNOW BASIS

As a designer, hearing the words “you’re the experts” can be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s fantastic that a client has faith and trust in your ability, but that’s not a reason to bypass the all-important ‘getting to know you’ phase. That process can sometimes take a little time – but ultimately, it’s time well spent for everyone and can mean time and money saved.

The onus for this process falls to both the designer and the client. While a client should be willing and able to provide a detailed insight into context, challenges and preferences. Any designer worth their salt should also have the skills to probe further to leave no stone unturned.

SO WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU SKIP THIS ESSENTIAL STAGE?

At best, you could end up with something that looks great but achieves nothing. At worst, you could create confusion undo previous successes and potentially even damage your brand. If that’s not worth a detailed conversation up front, we don’t know what is…


First a designer needs to understand why there is a need for a particular piece of design. Have you seen a decline in sales, do you have a new product or service to launch? Way before a designer should be putting ‘pen to paper’ (or mouse to mac). The designer needs to have a solid grasp of the context for a project. An understanding of where it sits in relation to the longer-term strategy and objectives. This ‘bigger picture’ insight is an important foundation and in our experience, it fuels the creative process and allows for more imaginative thinking.

IS YOUR PROJECT PART OF A WIDER CAMPAIGN?

If so, a designer will need to know what has come before, what will be running alongside and what will come after. Not only is this critical in terms of providing an insight into established branding and visual styles. It also helps us understand what stage in the buying process your customer may currently be at. Thus how this particular piece of creative should perform.

WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?

The more clearly you can define your target market, the more a designer can tailor their work. There is a well-known saying that ‘you can’t be all things to all people’ and this is certainly true in the case of design. If you have evidence to support why previous campaigns have (or haven’t) worked well with your target market, that information is particularly valuable.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?

Design should be crafted to prompt a reaction, generate a specific response or to encourage a particular action. Without knowing what response you’d like, or what you think ‘success’ looks like, how can your designer truly hit the nail on the head? If you are measuring success based on an uplift in sales revenue. But your designer is basing it on an increase in brand awareness or social engagement. You may not be entirely satisfied with the results.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?

In some instances, there may well be obstacles or challenges that your business faces. Your designer will need to bear in mind during the creative process. These may be linked to the competitive environment, factors in the wider market or could even something specifically relating to your business. Be they small or significant – we need to know about them.

WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES/SELLING POINTS?

All businesses have something that sets them apart from their competition. But not everyone is great at identifying or summarising what that is. It’s important that you understand your own key messages and selling points. This is so your designer understands them too and can clearly (and concisely) convey them in your creative.

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?

Do you have a ballpark budget in mind? If, so your designer needs to know. This isn’t so that we can go away and start planning our next shopping trip. It’s so that we understand the full scope and feasibility of what you’re asking for. This way we can come up with viable suggestions that will deliver against both your brief and your budget.

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