Hiring a graphic designer can prove to be a complete game-changer for your business. But there’s one aspect to this relationship that will determine whether you win the game or walk away frustrated.
Want to take a guess? Creativity… Vision… Artistry. All of the above?
Nope. None of the above. The answer is much more fundamental and much less exotic.
It’s Communication. Yep, with a capital C.
Why Does Communication Matter?
It’s the determining factor of any relationship — significant other, parent, business partner — and the needed skills are just as important when working with your graphic designer. We all understand the consequences of poor communication skills when it comes to our friends and families. Let’s remember, then, that our graphic designers are people, too. “Communication is key” remains a popular cliché for a reason.
When it comes to working with your graphic designer, you want to be someone who is easy to work with. Essentially, you want to be a good customer. But even more than that, you want to receive a final design that will work for your brand. Those two desires go hand-in-hand. The more (and more effectively) you communicate what you want, the more your graphic designer will understand what kind of design to create for you. And, in turn, the closer they will come to perfectly meeting or even exceeding your expectations.
Telling your designer to “change the colour” or “this needs to pop more” or even “make the logo bigger” are examples of poor, unconstructive communication that will very likely take several design iterations to get it right, if at all. Vague requests only prove to frustrate your designer and will result in a final design that will most likely not truly satisfy you.
Remember, the magic is in the brief. Your brief, to be precice.
What Do I Need to Communicate?
It sounds obvious, but graphic designers can’t read your mind. Many people easily assume their designer should create the initial idea or vision for what they want. But while designers have incredible skills such as creating stunning visuals, mind-reading isn’t one of them. It’s your job as the customer to present your idea, vision, and goals. It’s the job of the designer to then convert your vision into a design that you can then provide constructive feedback on to improve further.
Communication and clarity go a long way here. You can get great work out of your graphic designer by hanging up the phrase “make it pop” and instead providing as much detail upfront as possible.
This goes beyond the initial brief, too. That stepping stone enables your designer to make headway on your project, but get ready to communicate effectively on a regular basis. You’ll need to share your thoughts and opinions about the project throughout the process. This means detailed constructive feedback. Remember, communication will make or break your first draft design. A quick “looks great” or “I’m not sure” doesn’t give enough clarity. Be specific about what looks great, so the designer can incorporate more of that feature. Be clear about what you’re not sure about or don’t love so much, so the designer can work with that element some more and tweak it until you’re happy.
How Do I Communicate Really Well?
There are a few things to know before you communicate well with a designer.
For our customers, the number 1 tip to getting great designs is this: Show & Tell
This means that wherever you can, show us what you want (a link to an example design, a sketch, a doodle, a rough mockup) and then tell us what to put into your design (specific content, icons, colours to use, size of graphics you need, etc).
This will help dramatically as you communicate the initial vision at the beginning of the project.
Know your style
If you haven’t already, create a brand guidelines document or brand kit for your business. Your brand guidelines document, or brand kit, will make it clear what colors, fonts, types of images, shapes and similar branding mark the style you either desire or already have for your business should follow.
If you have trouble coming up with your style on your own, use ideas from other sources. You can see this guide on what information your brand guidelines should contain. While you may not know the right words to express these ideas to your graphic designer, a guide like this can indeed be worth 1,000 words here. So give a brand kit a try.
Know your audience
Who will read or use your designs? What is the age, gender, ethnicity, life situation of your audience? Your designer will have the expertise to create something that engages your specific audience, as long as they know the demographic.
Know the experience
How do you want your audience to feel when they come across your design? Safe, happy, calm? Or inspired, motivated and curious? This is the sort of information that your designer can use to create something suitable for what you need.
What action do you want your audience to take next? Should there be any buttons/call-to-action elements on the design?
Knowing the experience you want your audience to have and communicating that clearly will be a massive help to your designer.
Giving Constructive Feedback
With the design underway, there are a few more things to communicate after you receive that first draft:
What do you like about it?
Ensure you point out specific aspects of the design you like. This will let the designer know to not change those elements during edits and tweaks, and also to incorporate more of that concept into future modifications.
What do you not like about it?
This proves one of those critical communication moments. Be specific. Point out any errors or aspects of the design that do not fit the style you’re looking for. If at all possible, provide different examples from your initial ones that could help guide the designer for the next draft. Remember the show and tell method.
If you’re unsure about how clear your feedback reads, ask a friend to look it over before you send it. Someone outside your own brain can shed light on if it makes sense to just you, or if you’ve done a good job at using those communication skills.
What if I’ve Never Hired a Graphic Designer?
All these tips might sound great, but if you’ve never hired a graphic designer before, you might wonder how to share all this information in a cohesive way that won’t reveal just how scatterbrained you might feel. It’s totally OK. There’s actually a simple solution for this fear, and we’ve tried to make this as easy as possible by creating our design request form for our customers to use.
The magic is in the design brief. Most designers will require you to fill out a brief before they even meet with you. If you’re interested in a designer who doesn’t require that, do yourself a favor and create one anyway. It will save hours of trying to explain what you’re looking for and the designer will appreciate you for putting in some of that effort upfront.
A design brief is a form for you to fill out with most of the information you need to know before your project begins. It should include the dimensions of the design, vision, goals, file type needed, audience, actionable items, deadlines, examples, etc.
If you need an example of what information you can include, read through the request form we have here at Design Hero.
It might feel like there are many different elements to keep track of when it comes to working with a graphic designer, but it really all comes down to good, positive communication. If you want to be a customer whom designers enjoy working with, and if you want to get great work out of your graphic designer with the shortest timeline possible follow our tips here and you’ll soon be receiving great designs that you’re proud to publish as part of your marketing campaigns.