The Big Secret to Completing Successful Design Projects
Updated: Jan 14
Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it . . . Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine. – David Ogilvy, Advertising Executive
Not a lot of brand identity designers will tell you how their mind works when it comes to the creative process. Yeah, they may have step-by-step guidelines that will give you a general idea as to how the project will move along, but delving deep into the depths of the creative mind is something few of us rarely analyze or are even aware of. Often incepting creative is much like conjuring up magical spells straight from the pages of Harry Potter. We have our rituals, inspirations, and intuitive processes each with underlying techniques and explorations that we implement to open the portal of entry to the most brilliant of ideas.
For us to create we need vast space with the freedom to move and explore. Locking us into a small or rigid box will limit our ability to receive those genius ideas and ultimately present them to you. That's not to say we can't create within your project boundaries or timelines - on the contrary, we work with project briefs and deadlines all the time - but if you want our best work keep in mind that our process is unique, professional, and provides results.
So if you're a small business and you've hired a designer to help you build your company identity or product brand what's the big secret to getting a successful marketing piece?
Trust the process and get out of the way.
Many clients want their project done yesterday, or want to tell the designer how best to handle the goals of the piece: "make that header bigger", "change that image", "use this font"…etc. In fact what you are doing when you shorten the timeline or micromanage the design is you are not trusting the professional you just hired or giving them the space needed to create their best work for you. Not only does this lack of respect undermine the client/designer relationship, but sadly, this almost guarantees the client will receive a sub-par product. Instead of doing her best work your designer is busy creating revision after revision of your design requests that neither move toward the goal of the piece nor give you an optimal end-product.
So what can clients do to ensure they end up with a stellar logo, brand identity, direct mail piece or simple brochure?
Plan ahead with the deadline - Don’t skimp on adding plenty of padding to your design projects. If you’re not sure how long it will take to complete your brochure ask your designer to give you a ballpark idea of how long it will take to complete your project within a “comfortable” timeline.
Know your marketing goals - What do you want to achieve with your design project? Are you trying to capture more leads? Get more customers in the door? Promote a sale or product launch? Know your goal and then give your designer the freedom to explore the best possible way to communicate that to your target audience.
Consider adding brand strategy or design consulting to your budget - Everything you do for your business is an investment in it’s success. When it comes to developing a logo and brand identity having a complete picture of your business, it’s mission/objectives, your target market, competition, and key messages is vital to creating a successful brand that resonates with your audience and builds solid ROI. Large corporations know this which is why they invest a lot of money into this very important strategic step. Small business should be doing the same, but on a smaller scale, if they want to thrive in their industry. If your budget allows and you want to redesign your logo or re-brand your business consider hiring a designer who offers brand audits and design strategy services at the onset of the redesign. If your budget is small and you’re unsure whether you need a re-design or a new piece of collateral, consulting with a designer to assess your overall business branding may save you money in the long term and help you determine the baseline for new improvements and goals when you have the budget to invest in a re-design in the future.
Don’t tell your designer how to design - If you had the skills and expertise of a designer you wouldn’t need to hire one. Recognize that you are hiring a professional for their expertise and trust that they know how to do their job. You wouldn’t tell an architect how to design the plans for your house. You wouldn’t tell your doctor how to diagnose your symptoms. Don’t tell a graphic designer how to design your marketing collateral. Provide a design brief with all the detailed goals and objectives and then be open to answer any questions your designer has regarding your project. When assessing the design during the revision process give relevant feedback pertaining to its effectiveness at communicating your message or call-to-action. Let your designer explore the layout composition, colors, and fonts that best communicate your objectives. You may have ideas in your head about what you want it to look like but chances are you don’t know the techniques involved that fit your objectives, budget or time constraints. If you are unsure as to how the design presented meets your objectives just ask. A good designer will be able to provide solid reasoning to support their artistic decisions. You may be surprised to find that many of those decisions are related to the psychology of design that benefits your bottom line and not just an empty aesthetic.
Reflect on your revisions requested - Did the revisions you asked for help the design or degrade it? Many times clients don’t realize how far away they have digressed from their original objective by the time they approve the final design. As designers, we are more than happy to make you happy, because ultimately that’s OUR objective, but we also don’t want to provide a product that could hurt your business or confuse your target market. It’s a fine line we walk especially with small business clients. The more you trust us the more we are able to provide quality design and a successful end product. Before approving finals, always go back and look at the first designs presented by your graphic designer and see how much they differ from your last revision. Then reflect on whether all the changes implemented were necessary or just personal explorations. Were you interfering with the design or trying to hone the message of the piece? Even as designers we often have to circle back to our initial design concepts to reign ourselves in and focus back on our original goals. As a client, it’s your responsibility to circle back and take an honest look at your own revisions to see whether they elevated the message or confused it.
It’s important to remember that when you trust the process and get out of the way you are ultimately providing the best possible environment for your designer to create the best possible outcome for your business marketing objective. A marketing piece is a tool that has the potential to create more leads, bring in more sales, or build more engagement with your target market, but only to the extent that you are willing to let go and allow the professional that creates it to do his job.
Image above courtesy rawpixel.com