For those of you who may not have had experience working with a graphic designer before, let me help you help me help you…The following few tips will hopefully show you how to maximize the efficiency of your design project so that you can get everybody off to a good start (and keep the costs down! Time is money people!).
1. Define the scope of your project
Before you start it is important to know the scope of your project. Do you have an existing style/brand that the designer needs to adhere to, or will they be creating something original/re-branding? Clients often underestimate the amount of time it takes to come up with ORIGINAL concepts. When working with existing brands, the designer already has general style guidelines to follow, while creating something original involves the time it takes to dream up that style, along with physically creating all the graphic elements to go with it. Sometimes that conceptual time can come in a flash of brilliance, but sometimes it’s a bit like alchemy; putting everyday common elements together and combining them repeatedly to try and make gold…and I hate to break it to you but there’s no sure way to know which one you’re going to get before you start.
2. Identify the context, media and medium you will be using
Will you be using your project for print, or web? If you’re not sure how you will be using the materials produced from this project, be safe and make sure that you communicate to your designer that you need versions saved in file formats that are suitable for all the different applications that you may need in future. This reduces the risk of time spent designing for the wrong context, and the time you waste by having to go back to your designer repeatedly to save as png, jpeg or whatever it was you forgot to ask for in the first place. And remember, designers usually have a minimum hour charge in order to discourage this sort of time-wasting.
3. Inventory your current collateral and design elements
Do you already have a logo or business cards, letterhead, website? If you have any of these things, you need to tell your designer right away, so that they don’t end up re-inventing the wheel. I’ve had clients before that have asked for a logo done, but when I created it there were elements that looked similar to one of their other old logos, so they rejected the idea. Had I known about those other logos, I would have known right away where NOT to start. Which brings me to…
4. Be clear about your aesthetic preferences
Part of the task of coming up with a design involves narrowing your scope down to something that will suit your clients needs AND desires. It can be incredibly valuable to your designer to know of any aesthetics that you like vs one you dislike. For example, let’s say I’m creating a logo for a shoe store and they tell me they ‘d like to have a “west coast” feel to it. I ask them if there are any colours they prefer to see. They reply, “we like blue, but we’re pretty easy going”. So in my preliminary ideas I submit a colour palette that includes blues and earthy browns. The client comes back to me and says “blegh, I don’t like earth tones.” Well, that could have been a valuable piece of information to give to me before I came up with a concept that may or may not rely on those colours. In a nutshell, it’s important to not only give examples of things you like, but also dislike.