Working with a designer should be a fun and engaging experience. All design is a process of research, sketching, designing, refining and redesigning sometimes, until you reach a suitable product. Graphic design like logos and websites are a product of a relationship - you can definitely tell when its good.
Let's take a stroll through a process of a logo design:
- You need a logo, so you Google: logo designer. Whomever is closest to you geographically will populate after all the paid advertisements for $99 logos, of which you should ignore.
- You decide you want to shop local, and choose a designer with a cool website that is right in your town. You email them, you get a meeting and you are EXCITED.
- You meet. You nervously fumble through some small talk about the weather. This conversation needs to be about your business goals, so hopefully you buckled up and have some reasonable answers about where things are going with that.
- The designer talks you into going with them, you sign a contract, send off the deposit and you are MORE EXCITED.
- The designer sends over some initial logo designs. They all suck. Were they even listening??
- You come back and don't want to hurt the feelings of this innocent artist, so you fumble through feedback and get off the phone wondering if anything was accomplished.
- Designer comes back with more ridiculous designs and you start making YOUR OWN DAMN LOGO in Word or Paint. You're not a monster, so you end things nicely, realizing that they did actual work and you aren't getting your deposit back.
This is totally worst case scenario. Where did things go wrong? Was the designer an idiot? Did you do give them enough info? ARE ALL LOGO PROCESSES LIKE THIS?
Fear not, business owner.
Not all logo processes are like that. Below is my small guide for how to avoid awkwardly firing your best friend's daughter who is a graphic designer.
1. Do your research.
Not only do you want to properly research the designer you are working with, you should look into your competition locally and nationally to see what you are in for. The designers website, social media accounts and other online presences should look high end they should have recent projects reflecting their skills.
Its a benefit to research your competition to see what they are doing in their business and identity. You don't want to unknowingly copy existing logos or fonts, and its also good to see what they are doing that you do better.
Doing a little research ahead of your design meeting can also help you have a better first conversation. It can help you see what is out there and start to visualize where your business fits into the world.
2. Take the time to communicate.
Designers are not mind readers. Yes, they too should be doing a fair amount of research to learn about you and your business. But its not solely on them for pulling a logo out of thin air. Have a real conversation with your designer and provide them with the emotional connection you feel with your business. Let them know who your clients are, how your sales are and where you are going in the next 5 years. It takes a lot of information to build a logo and identity, so, don't be shy.
When the designer comes back with designs, take the time to have a conversation about them. Think about them, read them and put them up on a wall to look at. Put them under your pillow at night. Design is usually a pretty big investment and your thoughtful feedback is really, really important.
Designers don't expect you to come in speaking their language, but you do need to give feedback that is useful to move forward with. An example:
This feedback is almost useless, and I'll explain why. I don't need a pat on the back for work you are paying me to do. I need to know WHAT you hate and love. And WHY. Its helpful to give feedback on the most obvious things, so start there. Leaving your personal preferences out of the conversation is key - because your customers may not have the same taste as you. If you are past the logo stage in business and working on something like a brochure, and have an established brand identity, your personal preference has no stake in the game.
Color, fonts chosen, icons used, style of the illustration are all great things to comment on. Those are things people have an opinion on right away and it can open the conversation into more meaningful discussions. Like if your business started on the back of a buffalo in the the wild, and it should have a buffalo represented... Tell your designer those things up front, it will be so good I promise.
3. Send feedback like a professional.
Feedback is really important. Did I say that already? Okay well, it is. Also being professional and courteous about giving your feedback is important. 9 times out of 10 feedback includes important changes to the design or content like photo swaps or new copy if you are dealing with a brochure or publication, for instance.
The worst thing you can do is assume your designer has time to go through 15 emails to extract single photos. They do not. And you are paying for that time, so its more efficient all around to get your ducks in a row.
- When you get feedback, do not reply with off-the-cuff feedback. Wait a couple of days to reply with comments so your feedback isn't in sporadic emails throughout the following days and nights of "OH I JUST THOUGHT OF THIS."
- DO REPLY with an immediate, "Got it! Thank you, I will be reviewing this for a couple of days. I'll get back to you."
- Compile any written comments and ideas you have right on the PDF using Comments or create a single email to write your comments in as you review the design.
- Compile photos you want to send on your computer into a folder. You can do the same when working from a phone.
- Also add to this email any website examples, Pinterest boards, or random photo examples.
Basically, put it all together for them. They have created you a thoughtful design, its only respectful to do the same when providing corrections and feedback. It really only takes a bit of organization.
To sum it all up... Be specific. And say what you mean. Your experience will be so great if you can start with conversations and think of hiring a designer as hiring an ally that wants to help you do even better! When your relationship with your designer is open and good, you can accomplish anything in marketing basically. Thanks for reading!