You have chosen a graphic designer, and they will be a key partner in your marketing process. Here are some things to know to get the most out of the relationship.
Make it a Partnership
Think of working with a graphic designer as a partnership, where you each have strengths and expertise that you can combine to reach your goals. You know your business like no one else. In the same way, your designer has experience bringing marketing messages to life. The partnership works best when each party does what they are best at. A good designer will have the expertise to meet your needs and give you the feeling that you can trust them to do so. If you feel you have to micro-manage your designer, then you probably need to find a new one.
Have Clear Goals
Be clear and specific about your goals for the project. Understand your message and your target audience.
NO: “I need a brochure”
YES: “I want to introduce my new product to decision makers in the medical research field.”
A good designer should help you focus on your goals to make sure the project delivers what you need. The more you know about your goals, the faster the project will go, and the more effective the end product will be.
Know Your Budget
Understanding what you need and what it will cost is a key aspect to any design project. The old saying “You get what you pay for” is true. That does not mean that the most expensive is always better. But some messages and audiences require higher-end design and printing than others. Make sure your designer knows what your goals and budget are. They will do their best to work within those constraints, but good ones will also tell you if you are not being realistic, or what corners you may have to cut to fit within your budget. At a minimum, that should start a conversation about your goals and budget.
Talk About Your Schedule
Talk with your designer up front about your schedule. A good designer will take your schedule seriously, but that is only possible if you tell them when you need various parts of the project. Also, remember that the design process takes time. If you need a 16 page brochure in 2 weeks, you are probably going to be disappointed. While your designer should understand and work to your schedule, listen to them if they tell you it is not realistic. They do this every day and usually have a pretty good idea how much time it takes. If jobs are rushed, something is usually sacrificed in the process. It may cost more to compress a schedule, but there is only so much you can do before the quality or effectiveness starts to suffer. Work with your designer on a schedule that is realistic and will get you a quality product.
Also remember that schedules are a team effort. Your designer will do whatever they can to meet your dates, but you have a roll as well. Your designer will need you to be available for meetings or design reviews, respond to emails or calls quickly, and provide timely edits to proofs. It also helps to make sure your copy and goals are solid before you start, to avoid excessive revisions. With the proper expectations, and a little teamwork, you will get a great design project that meets your schedule.
Control the Revisions
No designer can be expected to work forever on a project. Most will specify the number of revisions that are included in the price. This may seem like a limitation, but it is actually to your benefit. This will help you focus on your message and goals up front. The entire process is better if you know what you need and have the content ready. This will get you a more effective end product, in less time, and for lower cost. Large revisions, especially late in the process, are the best way to ruin budgets, schedules, and the effectiveness of the design.
Communicate the Problem, Not the Solution
A good designer will have years of experience with ideas and styles you may not have even considered. If you try to design it yourself, you may limit their ability to help you. Wherever possible, communicate the desired result, rather than specific design suggestions.
NO: “Make this bigger and bold it.”
YES: “This is important. Make it stand out more.”
NO: “Move this to here, and this to here.”
YES: “The order of these is key. Make sure the reader see this one first.
NO: “Make this red and this blue, and add this photo here.”
YES: “I want the overall look to be vibrant. This needs more color and pizazz.”
Working with a graphic designer is a partnership to get you a marketing piece that will fulfill your goals, fit within your budget, and meet your schedule. The more you can tell your designer up front about each of those aspects, the happier you will be with the process and the end result.