A Guide to Getting on Your Graphic Designer’s Good Side!

From a Professional Graphic Designer’s Point of View

Do you get stressed out just thinking about how to go about creating your next project? Do you feel like you have an idea in your head (or maybe a billion of them), but you have no clue how to get that out into the world? That’s where an experienced graphic designer can be your next best friend! But, there is a catch… a talented, insightful and experienced graphic designer can do a lot of seemingly magical things… but most of us can’t read your mind. That’s where this guide comes in! I want to help you get prepared for your next project BEFORE you even look for a Graphic Designer. I promise it will save you TIME, FRUSTRATION and, most importantly, MONEY to put these steps in place FIRST!

So let’s get down to it, so you can get your homework done and get your project into the hands of a professional!

I’ve been a Graphic Designer for more than 20 years – shocking I know :0 — from working at a small newspaper to regional print shops to full-service ad agency… and now as my own business, Mindy Stephens Creative. I have worked with clients of various sizes as well, from Universities, Hospitals and Law Firms to an Entrepreneur publishing their first book. There is one thing that all of these clients have in common — they will get more for their money by doing this ONE thing — Prepare!
No matter what your business or idea is, YOU are the one who knows the most about it. It is in your best interest to communicate the who, what and why of your business to those who have the task of bringing your project to life!

Question: Why should someone choose You over your Competitor?

Who are you as an individual and/or business? How did you start out, and where are you headed? What is it that you are “selling” to your clients? An education? A product? A service? Hopefully, you have a Solution to their Problem. How do you stand out from your competitors? In other words, why would someone pick you over your competitor? These are all things that will help build the groundwork for an effective design for a logo, website, brochure, or an all-encompassing branding campaign.

Question: What’s your Style?

Beyond the above basics that need to be conveyed, is the more abstract aspect of defining the look and feel for your project. The easiest way for you to communicate what you like or what you are looking for is by visual examples. This will take some research time on your part, but will save you time and money when the project is finally in the hands of your Graphic Designer. So, how exactly can you figure this out?
Look at your competitors locally, regionally, nationally or even on a worldwide scale. What does their style or brand convey? What headlines or taglines are they using? You want to make sure that you are positioning yourself at, or more importantly, above their level and also make sure you are NOT Copying them.
For example, if you are needing a logo, show the designer examples of logos that you like. Explain what you like about them (color, style, legibility, font, etc.) Also find examples of what you don’t like, especially if you feel strongly about it. If a competitor uses an ultra-modern look, and you want your business to have a more rustic feel, let the designer know.
While designers have been known to hit the nail on the head while blindfolded, most of us are not mind-readers, and if we were, you couldn’t afford us!

The More you can Show your Designer Up-Front, the Better!

If you are needing a printed piece, provide examples of papers that you like, or a unique folded piece you may want to try, or even embossing or spot gloss coatings. For a website, send your web designer links to sites that have the look you like, but also sites that have functions that you need. You can even send links of examples from a completely different industry than the one you are in. What you provide helps your designer have a springing-off point to come up with the perfect design to meet your specific wants and needs.
For me, designing is like putting together a huge puzzle. I use custom graphics, photography, color, fonts and layout together to come up with a design that encompasses everything you want it to say. I always do research to try and figure out what a client wants before beginning a design, and that is a necessity. However, if you can provide the basics up-front, it saves a LOT of TIME for your designer to narrow down what you want, which equals MONEY SAVED for YOU. Even more importantly, you get a resulting product that does exactly what you need it to do — bring your ideal clients & customers to YOU! And, of course, your Graphic Designer will LOVE you!

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