We human beings are incredibly visual creatures. There is perhaps no quicker, or more effective way to communicate emotion and ideas than through the use of illustration, graphics, and pictures.
What does this mean for you as a business owner, or marketer? Well, unless you happen to be a successful business pro, AND an artistic virtuoso, then you're going to need to hire a graphic designer to create the images that move people to interact with your brand.
It sounds simple enough. There are plenty of graphic design platforms full of talented graphic designers to choose from. So, you just pick your designer, set your price, and wait for the magic to happen, right?
If only it were that easy. Many a brand owner or marketer has gone down that path, and they will likely be the first to tell you that when it comes to getting the amazing graphic design results that you are looking for you are going to need to put in some real effort on your part.
Don’t worry, you aren't going to need to start brushing up on your design skills, but you are going to need to dust off your communication skills. Graphic design is a creative pursuit, and like all creative activities there is a great deal of subjectivity involved in creating a visual representation of an idea.
Keep reading to learn from those who have gone down this path before. We'll share the top communication skills to ensure that you and your graphic designer are sharing the same vision. You'll thank us later when you see your design vision come to life exactly as you had envisioned in your mind, perhaps even better.
Know what you want
This sounds like a no-brainer. You know exactly what you want, right? Do you really though? While many people have an overarching idea in their mind of what their ideal finished design elements will look like, when questioned about the important details of their vision, the idea starts to become a lot more vague and ambiguous.
This is generally the first step on the way to a design disaster. You can easily avoid this design confusion and create more alignment by taking the time to flesh out your design vision BEFORE contacting a graphic designer.
If you're familiar with the world of marketing, this stage will be similar to designing your digital marketing plan. You may have already answered many of these questions during the initial building of your marketing plan. In that case, congratulations, you are ahead of the game. For those who are not marketers, or have not reached that stage in the development of your branding, here are a few of the core areas that you will want to build out as part of your initial marketing plan.
Who is most likely to be interested in, or helped by, the products or services that your business or brand offers? This is your target audience. Once you have identified who you are marketing your brand to, you'll also need to spend some time learning the preferences of your target audience. What else are they interested in? What social media platforms do they use? What is their favored communication style? What types of design and media are they likely to find most appealing?
● Brand Identity
It's a good rule of thumb to know your own brand, and business, inside and out. What are your core brand values? What do you want to communicate to your audience? What do you want the first impression of your brand to be? What image do you want your brand to portray?
● Design Requirements
This area is more granular than the previous sections. This deals with the actual granular details, and design constraints that will impact your final design. Do you have size restrictions on your designs? Are you looking for large imagery that communicates the message on its own? Are you looking for illustrative images that will be accompanied with typography? Do you have a color scheme in mind? What style of design are you looking for? Is there a dark background? Good contrast? Any negative space in the graphic?
Taking the time to flesh out EXACTLY what you are looking for will make it much easier to communicate your final graphic design strategy to your graphic designer. Now that you know what sort of design you're looking for, here are a few tips on how to work with graphic designers to ensure the most productive creative collaboration possible.
Pay attention to project briefs
Project briefs were designed to facilitate productive communication, and successful collaboration between creative and client. Depending on the design platform, agency, or designer you are using, you should expect to spend some time entering information into project briefs. This is your first and best chance to clarify exactly what it is you're looking for in a design.
It can be tempting to skimp on the details, assuming that the designer knows what you need. Don’t assume! Even great designers aren't mind readers. The very best way to ensure that you get a good design for your brand, is to tell the designer what the perfect design for your brand looks like to you. You are the ultimate architect of your brand image, so it's up to you to communicate that image to the designer.
Your designer should understand what you're looking for, and know what purpose you want the design to serve. Your project brief should also include a brand guide, if you have one, or the basics of your brand identity if you don't yet have a formal brand guide prepared.
This is one area where less is definitely not more. The more information that you're able to include in your project brief the happier you will be with the end result. Your graphic designer wants to give you a web design that you'll love, so give them the tools to do so with a detailed project brief.
Provide visual inspiration
This tip brings us in a full circle back to the original concept of human beings as visual creatures. Images are often able to convey an idea far more accurately, and clearly than even the most detailed of text or spoken instructions. After all, we don’t all use the same words to describe the same things, but images tend to be universal.
Take some time to browse the web for design inspiration. Pick out examples that clearly show the style, colors, and “feel” that you would like to see reflected in your own brand design. Share these images with your graphic designer, and make an effort to clearly communicate which elements of your inspiration design speak to you, and which you would like to avoid.
Provide constructive feedback
This final tip is one of the most overlooked, or misused aspects of the graphic design strategy for most brands. When it comes to interpretation, and creative design, it's unlikely that you're going to get exactly what you're looking for in the first draft. Again, design is a highly collaborative process. If you've followed our “how to work with a graphic designer” advice then the first attempt should be somewhere in the ballpark of what you're looking for.
Think of the constructive feedback that you provide for the first design draft as the fine tuning of your final design. By communicating what you like, and what you don’t like you keep the lines of communication, and collaboration flowing, and you ensure that your designer will happily work with you to get you the perfect design that you envision, no matter how many revisions it may take.
While there's no one size fits all graphic design strategy, following these simple steps will make the graphic design process far easier, and more productive for both you, and your designer. Want a little extra help? We have you covered! Reach out to us and schedule a discovery call to learn how we can help you integrate graphic design into your marketing plan.