THE START OF A DESIGN PROJECT IS A REALLY EXCITING TIME…
It’s a little bit like looking at a giftwrapped present. The newness, the anticipation – it’s all so full of potential. But at the same time, there’s that little niggling feeling – will this be something I love or is it going to be another pair of beige socks? (Unless you like beige socks of course!)
As much as it’s lovely to get a surprise gift, we all know that to get *exactly* what we want, we have to ask! And working with a designer is no different. It’s not just a matter of saying ‘I need a logo!’ and the perfect brand magically appearing in your inbox a week later. Of course, I’m oversimplifying here, but there are some things your designer will need to know if they’re going to give you the perfect design. Some people get a little nervous asking questions in design consultations, feeling that they’re ‘telling the designer what to do’ – but this is so not the case! As they say round our way, ‘shy bairns get nowt’!
So, before you embark upon your next design project, have a little think about these pointers – your designer will thank you!
1. Is there a deadline?
For me, this is perhaps the most important question of all – and deserving of the number one spot! Designers often book up in advance, so chances are they won’t be able to start your project immediately. Printing and web development can also add time to a project so if you know your deadline early on, share it with your designer and they’ll be able to devise a work timetable that keeps everyone happy and on schedule!
2. Do you have any existing branding?
This could be as simple as a logo you already have in place that you’d like to keep, or perhaps you’ve got a set of brochures that your new website will need to match. You’ve heard me say it many times, consistency is key! Your designer will want to ensure that everything you put out into the world looks consistent, so if you’ve got anything you’re already using to market your business, bring it along to your first meeting as reference material.
3. Who are your main competitors?
Nobody knows your business like you do and, without a doubt, you’ll be well aware who you’re competing against! If your designer can see what your business rivals are up to, they can make sure you’re set well apart and – hopefully – head and shoulders above what the competition are doing!
4. Who is your target audience?
Whether you’re aiming at the handcrafted market place or a formal, corporate industry, chances are you’re aiming at quite a specific group of people, who will have, in turn, quite specific tastes. If your designer knows the group of people you’re aiming at, they can make sure you ‘fit’ within your industry and attract the right people.
5. Where would you like your business to be in 5 years’ time?
If you’re a dog walker at present, a logo with a paw print or dog image in it would fit perfectly. However, if you have plans to extend the business into pet sitting for exotic pets in a year’s time, the dog isn’t going to represent you very well and could, infact, lose you business. By sharing your dreams and plans with your designer, they’ll be able to create something that can grow with you and stand the test of time.
6. How are you going to be talking to people?
Okay I know I talk about this one a lot – but honestly, it’s so important! If you’re going to be jokey and informal in all your marketing materials, an austere and reserved logo is going to seem a bit of an ill-fit. This is where an in-person meeting can really help, as your designer will be able to get a good impression of your personality, but if you’re not able to meet face to face, tell them how you plan to communicate with your potential customers. I promise, it’ll work wonders!
7. Where would you like to be seen?
Are you an exclusively online business or will you be mostly be seen in print? It may seem like an odd thing to consider but it can really affect the design process. A logo that will appear embroidered on a t-shirt will need to be much simpler than one that will only be printed on banner stands and posters. A logo that looks wonderful in shiny gold foil when printed is only going to look brown when it’s seen online. Where you intend to use your design is a really important consideration and something that, where possible, you should try and anticipate early on!
8. Who really inspires you?
Thinking about logos or websites you really like the look of can really stump people sometimes. When I meet with clients, I prefer to ask them who or what inspires them in a broader sense. Maybe there’s a fashion designer who you find totally dreamy, a blogger whose posts seem really friendly or a book cover you’ve always admired. All of these things will help your designer understand your taste that bit better and will help them create a design you’ll love.
9. What do you absolutely loathe?
This might seem like an oddly negative question, but it’s one I actually find incredibly insightful! They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder – what’s gorgeous to one person might be completely repugnant to another! Maybe you hate handwritten fonts or wouldn’t be seen dead in the colour green. If you can tell your designer your turnoffs, you’ll avoid any nasty surprises on presentation day!
10. What’s your budget?
Being British, people round our way can be a little shy about talking money (though maybe it’s different if you’re elsewhere in the world), but if there’s a time to discuss it, it’s at the very start! Most designers are able to be flexible with their design ‘packages’, so once they know how much you’re able to spend, they’ll be able to tell you how many design options / rounds of amendments / etc. they’ll be able to deliver within your budget.
So there they are! My ten things to talk about in your next design meeting. Use them and you’ll be well on your way to getting the best from your graphic designer…