While it may seem cool to quick-draw deadlines and sling fast turnarounds like you’re a badass business cowboy, last minute projects are never recommended.
Creatives get the bad rap of being flaky, moody, and tortured artists. But despite the cliché labels, working with a graphic designer shouldn't be drama. If you are working with an experienced designer you will be hard-pressed to find any of those qualities. Regardless of their personality type there are things a client can do to make the collaboration efficient, economical, and rewarding.
1. Know your objectives.
Trying to shoot a shotgun at a target in the dark is a dumb idea. So is asking your graphic designer to create a direct mail piece that has no end goal. Figure out WHAT you are trying to achieve first before deciding on HOW to do it. Are you looking for new customers? Are you trying to capture email addresses and grow your database? Are you trying to reach out to inactive members or clients? Are you announcing a new product or service? Nail your objective down before consulting with a graphic designer. Often times the end goal will determine the channel, format, design, and content used to connect with your target audience.
2. Provide all the information at the beginning of the project.
No one likes to see an invoice that is twice as much as the original estimate due to unnecessary “redesign”. Ouch. In order to avoid this tragic outcome be sure to provide as much information regarding the specifics of your project prior to your designer commencing work. This means if you need an ad designed, providing accurate specs for the publication is absolutely necessary. Even if you don’t know the difference between “trim,” “live,” and “bleed,” your designer does and they need that information to begin. At the very least, provide your designer with the publication’s contact info for the individual managing your account. There’s nothing more frustrating than finalizing ad artwork only to be informed that the ad needed to be designed in a vertical format rather than a horizontal one.
3. Give yourself and your designer plenty of time.
While it may seem cool to quick-draw deadlines and sling fast turnarounds like you’re a badass business cowboy, last minute projects are never recommended. Yes. A lot of designers are used to working under tight deadlines but you probably won’t get their best work. If you want quality consider giving yourself an added buffer between project/publication deadlines and the last revision. For smaller jobs an extra few days might be enough buffer but you may want to extend that out to weeks the first time you work with a designer or for larger, more in depth projects.
4. Don’t get too personal.
Your favorite color might be steel blue but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for your logo. Just because you “like” something doesn’t mean it will resonate with your target market. A good graphic designer will put some solid legwork into researching your customer as well as your competition in order to craft a design that will be relevant and impactful. Here’s some solid advice: Give your designer guidelines and then get out of the way.
5. Leave “designing” to the professional.
This goes along with number 4. No one likes to be micro-managed. Period. It’s downright disrespectful and shows that you don’t trust their ability to complete a task without your personal oversight. A professional designer is just that: A professional. You wouldn’t pay an architect good money for their expertise and then create the plans and blueprints yourself. That’s just silly and a waste of money. Allow your designer to present concepts and ideas and then provide feedback that is relevant, meaningful, and guided. “We want to highlight and emphasize that this promotion is a ‘Limited Offer’” is more valuable feedback than “Change the color of ‘Limited Offer’ to red and make it bigger.” While it's always important to inform the designer on what needs to be changed let the designer make the call on how to implement those changes.
There you have it. The takeaway here is to trust the professional you hire to do their job. Giving them relevant specifications, guidance, and feedback is key to getting their best (and most economical) work.
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