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How to choose the right Graphic Designer

It’s interesting, last week we posted on our Instagram account about the costs associated with design (check it out here), and it got us thinking. What we really need to do is help people understand the industry and what to look for by breaking down a few things in regards to choosing the right Graphic Designer for your brand.

As we stated in our post, you can have 3 hatted chefs and you can have pub chefs; both in very different playing fields. This doesn’t mean that the pub chef isn’t great, I mean who doesn’t love some good pub grub. Though when we look at it in the scheme of things, we’re willing to spend more for the hatted chef because of 3 things; experience, quality and reputation. Well, the same goes for choosing the right Graphic Designer.

So we’ve broken it down for you, so you can understand what it is you need and to know what calibre designer is needed to bring the right value to your brand.

Time

Just like anything, the more you do, the better you get. Time in the game helps Designers to grasp the ropes, to learn what works and what doesn’t. Understand the industry ins and outs and to naturally develop. I (Tara) have been in the design game now for 12 years, and it’s so important to take that time to really take in everything around you, from trends, errors, other successful campaigns, deadlines and to naturally figure out processes. Early on is for learning and it was the best time to really grasp what type of designer I wanted to be. Naturally, you fall into things you love and repel the things you don’t want to do, which in hindsight, helps you to practice the craft that you’ll do so well later on in life.

Hell, I look back at some of the work I was developing in those first 3-5 years of my career and it makes me cringe. YEH, some of it was shit house, don’t you worry. Though that stage was so important to go through because it helped me to finesse the process and become the better designer I am today.

Time gives designers experience, experience creates the value.

Experience

Which brings us to our next part; experience. Where they’ve worked and what they’ve worked on will also play a huge part in the process. If they’ve been agency side (like we were) then you’ll be exposed to a lot of different jobs and situations. Tight deadlines, response times, quick problem-solving skills, bigger brands and demands. In a small studio, they may not get the calibre of work as a larger agency would, but they may become experts in a certain style of work, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.

Having good experience with different types of work also showcase what they know in the instance of when things go wrong, for example, legalities. How well do they know the law? Do they understand the ins and outs of how things work? (for more on copyright, check out one of our previous blogs here).

To give you an example, in the past we’ve had a client who wanted us to develop a logo and gave us the business name. Before developing, we did a quick business name search and noticed that the name was already taken. We informed the client and they had no idea, so if we hadn’t had done that, we would have gone and developed a logo for the client which would’ve been useless.

Experience helps to ask the right questions. Things like this really help to establish the designer and it’s important to know their background if you’re seriously investing.

Qualifications

Are they ongoing learners or a one time wonder? We’re big believers in ongoing learning, especially within our industry. With technology changing so drastically, it’s important to stay up to date with not only design trends, but how technology is impacting the way we work and communicate. How someone may have communicated to their audience 10, even 5 years ago has changed. So, whilst the design is an important attribute, so is their ability to communicate effectively with an audience, after all, that’s the reason you’re investing. Apart from design, what else have they studied? What courses have they done?  Ask them questions about where they’ve worked, and the type of clients they have worked with. It’s pretty much where we’d start when looking to hire, so if you’re investing, you should ask similar questions.

Specialty

Do they have a specialty?
What do they do and do well?

There is a range of design specialities out there, so it’s good to choose someone who is experienced in what they do (ask for examples, check reviews).

Illustrators, animators, magazine/book designers, digital, print, retail, logo, typographers, to name a few. Whilst we all strive to be versatile, there will always be something we do better.

In our case, if we are to narrow down, we’re brand and retail designers. Meaning we create and develop strategies to create and design brands, then we help to communicate the retail message. WTF does that mean we hear you say? Well:

  • How to effectively sell to the customer (no gimmicky crap, smart tactics for POS, brochures, signage and graphics)
  • How to design and create the right message for the objective (image, design, layout, copy)
  • How to create collateral that is easy to understand and digest (quick and easy, in and out).
  • Create graphics which tell a story and communicate the right message (infographics, iconography, packaging)
  • Develop creative that delivers the brand message (brand development, strategy and design)

Things like that, that’s out jam. Though that’s because we had years of experience with retail clients in our agency delivering that exact type of work over and over again. So we know what works and what doesn’t.

If you asked us to illustrate a kids storybook, sure we could do it, and I bet it would be fun, but it would take us a lot longer that say someone who does this on the reg, because we don’t do it often. Where as if you asked us to develop the branding for a new cafe and the branded collateral (POS, menus, signage) we’d be ace at it.

It’s important to know what they can do well and for 2 reasons: time and value.

Service

This to us is a maker or breaker for anyone we work with.

  • Customer service – how they respond, act and treat people is huge. As we know this is an integral part of branding so it’s important to have a good judge of character. Like we always say, someone could be amazing at what they do (we’re talking in general here) but if they’re difficult to work with and the process painful, then they may not be the right fit, and that’s OK! So we always like to have a good chat with people to see how they respond and communicate first.
  • Response time – This one is important if you’re deadline driven (if you’re not, regardless of how much you want the work, don’t rush designers, the best work will come in good time). If a person takes too long to reply, or get back to you then maybe they’re not the right fit. It doesn’t mean that they’re not good at what they do (like we just said, good things take time), it just means there may be someone out there more suited to what you need.
  • Connections – Who do they know? Having a designer with good connections is good value to you. If they have a good connection of people within their field of work, you can produce not only good design work but good communication in a range of mediums. For example, we work really closely with good developers, animators, illustrators, photographers, printers, video editors, digital marketers etc. They’re a fundamental part of our business, so when you invest in us, you invest in our connection circle. See their work and what they’ve done and if they collaborate. After all, relationships are key.
  • Relationships – speaking of relationships. Are you after someone for the long haul or a once off. How you get along with someone will really help to assist in developing great work. When a designer really understands your needs, you work together as a team to knock it out of the park.
  • Processes – A good process will always help keep things running smoothly. When you have someone who is organised, the experience is easy. Having clear communication and understanding will be crucial to the way things run in terms of concept development, revisions, legalities, costing etc. We always like to be really clear in communicating the overall process so our clients know what they’re in for.

 

Before investing, it’s important to have an objective.
Think about things like:

  • Do you want something low cost? (caution here, quality is usually a factor here)
  • Do you want high quality?
  • Do you want it fast?
  • Do you want experience?
  • Do you want a certain style?
  • Do you want an ongoing relationships?
  • Do you want someone to have an ongoing working relationship?

Understanding your objective will help you to know what questions to ask and attributes to look for. Because every designer has something different and aweosme to offer.

If you have any questions or want to know more, click here and get in touch. Or check out the services page to see what’s on offer.
Alternatively, head over and follow us on Instagram and see what’s happening with us daily!

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