I sometimes get asked how to go about choosing a graphic designer to work with and it’s an interesting question because there are a few things to think about.
Some are generic to choosing any supplier (or at least any creative supplier), but graphic designers are a bit different because they are the ones you rely on to make your brand image visual.
It’s important to make that distinction. Graphic designers are about visual image, and that is one only part of your overall brand image. You really need to be able to provide a designer with a brand document, known as your Brand Identity, that sets out a clear idea of how you want to be perceived.
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It’s your job (with professional help as needed) to get clarity and agreement within your organisation about who you are and what you stand for, not the designer’s.
To make sure a prospective designer understands your brief, have them give it back to you in their terms. And it’s essential that they ask you a lot of questions reflected in your Brand Identity document; not just practical things about how visuals will be used, but questions about you, your competitors, the market you’re in, the challenges you face and the brands you align with. In turn, ask them about the work they do, the work they enjoy and their own aspirations.
Be clear about what you want and realistically should expect. You don’t want a designer with preconceived ideas and, most importantly, you don’t want one whose work, however good, doesn’t reflect you. You want someone to challenge you, not argue with you.
By the same token, you can’t expect to tell them how to do their job. If something doesn’t work for you then say so, because that’s your right, but don’t start suggesting specific changes, because that’s almost certainly not your skillset. You want to channel their creativity, not restrict it
You certainly want someone you can work with but in some cases it’s worth thinking about the designer’s own image, particularly if they and their work are well known. What would clients and friends think of your choice? Are they a bit too edgy for your image, or would that send the right message internally and externally about where you are taking the brand? Do their other clients fit with you? Do they have others in the same industry as you, and is that an issue?
Is their work recognisable? Sometimes that can be a good thing, but more often than not it’s not. It becomes about their work rather than your brand.
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Do you want a small company, where you’re pretty sure you’ll always be working with the boss not the office junior, or do you need a bit of size for security?
Or do you, in fact, need more than one designer? Some are great with logos but don’t understand packaging. Some are brilliantly creative but a bit slow, while others can do the basics on demand. Some are better than others at working with other creatives on bigger jobs.
Most importantly ask to see a spread of work from a range of clients and assess not just how good it looks but whether it realises creatively what they were asked to achieve.
Have any questions regarding your brand? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org