7 things to consider before hiring a brand designer (+ what to expect from working with a designer)
I can’t remember how many times I heard “you’re the designer, figured it out” and it’s so frustrating because designers aren’t mind readers. If you don’t know what you want or like, how the heck I should know this?
It’s like when you want a build a house and you’re hiring an architect, interior designer and other professionals, but I bet you already have some kind of vision on how you want this house to look like. You didn’t just spend thousands or millions of dollars and don’t know what you want, right? The professional can help you and guide you, but you NEED to know the basics of how many rooms you need, what style, what colours and so on, you like.
It’s similar when you work with a brand designer. You need to do some ground work before you hire one. I thought it would be great to share the insights on what to expect from working with a designer, how to prepare for brand design and 7 things to consider before hiring a brand designer.
Having a well-designed brand and website is essential for all business owners and bloggers, but before you jump into hiring and working with a brand designer, there are 7 things to consider.
7 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE HIRING A BRAND DESIGNER
+ what to expect from working with a designer
1. KNOW YOUR BRAND, GOALS AND AUDIENCE
One of the most important section in my brand questionnaire is a set of questions about client’s brand. Think about your mission statement, so the purpose of your business in 2-3 sentences. Define your ideal audience, so people you want to attract to your brand. What is their gender? Their age? What are their interests? Where they live? Before you work with a brand designer, you need to know your “Why”, in other words, the purpose of your business.
Why do you do what you do?
What was the idea behind the name? Where did it come from?
When you think of your business, what adjectives come to mind?
What is the overall message you wish to portray with your brand? What should people feel when they see or think of your brand?
What is a tone/voice you’re going to use in your brand?
What makes your business different from others in your industry?
2. GATHER SOME INSPIRATION
Before you jump into working with a brand designer, you need to know what style you like and what things are visually appealing to you. Showing the designer actual images as a reference is the easiest and the most effective way to increase the chances that you’ll get the brand you’ve envisioned in your head. As I’ve mentioned before, designers aren’t mind readers, so you need to show them what you like.
I included the question about the style preferences in my brand design inquiry form, so I can see already in the first email if the potential client fits my design style. It saves me and my clients a lot of time and ensures we are a good fit.
The best way is to create a secret board on Pinterest and pin every image that catches your eye. Once you’ve pinned enough images, maybe 10-30 look for similarities in those images. Are there more pastel or vibrant? What adjectives comes to mind when you see those? Don’t forget to type into each Pin description what you specifically like about the image that you have pinned. Try to explain what drew you to that image i.e. style, colour, layout, font etc.
The second task you can try is to look around you when you’re at home. Go through your closet, what colours are there? In what aesthetics are those? More elegant and classic or fun and whimsical? Look around your desk. In what colour are the office supplies you bought? Maybe think about when you’re at the store, what items and colours resonate with you the most?
3. PREPARE THE CONTENT & HOMEWORK
Like you’d leave your measurements to the seamstress or show what’s need to be fixed in your bathroom, you need to provide your brand designer with the content she needs. For brand design it might be just a copy and images for collateral items like business cards, letterheads, thank you cards, pricing guides, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest branding, blog post graphics, email signatures and more.
Most of the designers send their brand identity questionnaire before they work with you. Usually, the questionnaire contains questions about your brand, target audience, goals, visions, competitors, style etc. Some of the designers will have a homework (which is, by the way, a fun type of homework) for you which usually is to create an inspiration board on Pinterest, so showing them your style.
If you’re unsure which of the collateral items you need, list you’re your workflow or client experience and these will help you evaluate what you actually need. If you’re hiring a website designer, there is certainly more content for you to prepare like for example copy and images for each page.
Most of the designers will require all your finalised content at the start of the project to even better understand your brand. You need to provide finalised content and images to help the design process to run smoothly.
4. TRUST THE DESIGNER’S PROCESS
The creative process is a way, of collaborating with clients and it contains steps that are taken to get a specific project done. Every creative has their own process of doing things, but to be honest, I think the process is very important in any occupation.
Experienced designers should have a design process for the brand identity in place. Most of them probably listed it on their services page, in a blog post, FAQ or welcome packet. When you work with a brand designer, you need to trust their process and experience. The design process is a list of task which goes into a brand design and it’s a coming up with a solution for client’s problem.
5. BUDGET AND TIMEFRAME
You won’t go shopping and fill your cart and then go to the till without wallet or expect that all those things are free. Before you consider hiring a brand designer, you need to know your budget and timeframe. Most of the designers take only several projects per year, so they’re usually booked out few months in advance, so don’t expect everyone to jump right into your project because you need a brand or website for yesterday.
Designers usually require a deposit before they work with you, some of them require percentage of the full price to secure your spot in their schedules (sometimes few months or week before the start date) and others will require the deposit a week or few days before the project start date, so you need to have a money in place for that.
Think about the realistic timeframe suitable for you and your designer and if it’s flexible or fixed. Designers required the client to fully participate in the brand design process, so pick a timeframe in which you’ll have enough time a day to answer designer’s emails or calls.
[Tweet “Designer’s job is to take all the elements of your brand and piece them together into a brand identity you’d love, so you need to participate in the process to help them do that”]
6. PROVIDE WITH A CLEAR FEEDBACK AND TIMELY ANSWERS
Designers will expect you to be able to provide them with timely feedback and answer any questions they might have during the process, so it’s not just that you book the project and you’re waiting for the designs for magically come to you. If you want a perfect brand that represents you, you need to guide your designer, again by giving them clear and concrete feedback and answering their questions.
Some designers (like me) have a project calendar for an entire year when they can only take a certain number of clients. That’s why is important to commit to the timeframe you’ve agreed to in designer’s contract. The designer is probably having another client after you, so you need to stick to the deadlines in order to get your brand identity on time and don’t have to wait months for your designer to have time for you on their schedule again. Not to mention, some of the designers have late fees in their contract so if you miss the deadline, you’d have to pay for that.
Professional designers usually offer from 2-3 revisions, so your feedback needs to be concrete. Without the feedback, the designer can’t move forward with the design process. The designer wants to know which concept speaks the most to you and what changes you’d them to make in this concept. If you won’t provide your designer with a feedback on time, you might end up moved to the queue, because she starts another client’s project tomorrow and can’t wait for your response forever.
[Tweet “My golden rule for client’s feedback and answers? More details than better”]