Before bringing anyone in to do work for you, make sure you have your vision and goal(s) set. The more unified the team, the better the overall project and process will go. Know the gameplan and what you’re trying to achieve. The designer is more likely to be successful when the goal is clearly defined as early as possible. Creative clarity is always important to have from the very beginning. Keep in mind that the unifying vision shouldn’t be at the whim of any one person’s personal preference but at the whim of the overall goal. This vision must be kept at the forefront of the minds of all parties involved, moving forward.
Tip #2: Be/Have A Point Person
Make sure the team selects a point person to be the main contact for your designer. This person will be the liaison between the designer and the rest of the team. Don’t let various members of the team shout changes to your designer at any given time. That could get overwhelming to the designer and make the process very choppy and unfocused. One person should be the collector of all the feedback and the main communicator with the designer.
Tip #3: Be Organized
Filter and organize the feedback for your designer. Some feedback will be repeated. Some people may even contradict each other, depending on how unified the team is (see Tip #1). In your meeting with your squad, collect all the thoughts of the people present and discuss those thoughts. Condense everything to an organized bullet point list of changes and comments. When I’m working with a team of clients, I ask for all feedback to be given at once in a single e-mail. It helps me to see it all at once and neatly itemized. I want to make all the necessary changes at once rather than change some things then get other changes later from feedback I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t let the project become another design by committee statistic. It is possible to come to the proper design solution that satisfies the team need with proper execution and communication.
Chances are the first attempt at a design solution won’t be a home run. On the first go round, I usually have no problem shooting in the dark. Sometimes, people need to see something before they can explain what direction they want to go in. Seeing something visually can spark ideas. However, the amount of time playing the guessing game should be kept to a minimum. Creative clarity is more important than creative freedom. Clarity requires proper communication. So, here are some tips on how to communicate feedback to a designer.
Tip #1: Be As Specific As Possible
Provide context. Try to refrain some simply saying you don’t like a concept. Explain why you don’t like it. Provide examples that suggest more of the direction you’d like to see the project go toward. In my client questionnaire, I included a section that asks for the potential client to provide examples (from in and outside of my portfolio) that hint at what they’d like to see.
Tip #2: Be Inquisitive
Ask questions of the designer. You may be confused about a design decision and clarity on that decision may give you a better perspective. Learning the why sometimes can change a person’s mind on a design. Be open to discussion and seek to gain insight. Your vision and the designer’s expertise must come together for the project to work. A desire to understand and a spirit of cooperation are absolutely crucial.
Tip #3: Be Honest
Be upfront about what you want. Be honest yet respectful. Appreciate the time that went into creating the concept(s) but don’t be afraid to reveal what you don’t like. We want you to be satisfied with the service we provide. We can deal with honest, constructive feedback because it makes not only the project but us better at what we do.
Feedback is necessary to reach the ultimate goal. Designers and clients must be open-minded and listen to one another.
I’m not a tool. I’m a teammate. Whether you are the designer or the client, the best result comes with you are working together. Teammates value what each brings to the table and allows each other to flourish within their skillset. As a designer, I am not here to just execute someone else’s vision. I’m here to use my professional expertise to help produce the right design solution for the client’s goal(s).
Collaboration needs fluid, frequent, and effective communication. It requires and develops trust between all parties. Mutual respect of what each is bringing to table enhances the experience and amplifies the joy of the working relationship. When everyone feels valued and everyone is invested, the chances of success increase exponentially. The best work comes from the best teams and those teams are more likely to want to work together again in the future.
Designers must listen to their clients. It’s their brand/project they are investing their money in. You won’t know what path needs to be taken without conversations and research. Even though you’re the designer, those conversations could spark something within you that leads to the solution. Clients need to listen to their designers. The designers are the experts in the field you need. The designer will provide you with a professional perspective you need. Together, you can ask the necessary questions and answer them all with combined creativity and clarity.
Collaboration also occurs designer to designer. For example, let’s say there is a large visual brand identity project on the table. One designer may not have all the skills to execute the solution. Within the design community, there are specialists. An illustrator may be brought in to work with a user interface designer or a website designer. Collaboration requires you to know your strengths and being willing to trust those who have strengths you don’t.
The north star is the goal. Everything that is done is to serve that end. Put ego aside, amplify self-awareness, and value the expertise of others. Teamwork does indeed make the dream work.
There is a reason you see this when people post their business contact information.
Be selective about who you work with. Once you accept the opportunity to work with someone, that client and that project is your responsibility. In my field, I like to only work with people who understand the value and importance of design. I also love working with people whose projects will bring some positivity into the world, whether through a service or product. Take the time prior to accepting a job to evaluate how well you and the potential client fit with one another. Evaluate how well you can accomplish what is necessary for the project. Be thorough in determining what they need and establish yourself as a teammate and not a tool. Some people are simply looking for technicians while others want to invest in a specialist to join their team for a time.
Keep The Focus On Their Goals
Never take for granted their decision to reach out to you for help. Appreciate every opportunity you have to serve someone else. While appreciating, make sure you are digging. You build trust by digging deeper into their backstory and the backstory of the project. The more they can tell you are personally invested in their success, the more they trust in you as a teammate. You must be invested in their vision beyond the mere monetary transaction. As a graphic designer, I’m not chasing money. I’m chasing purpose. I feel these skills I’ve been blessed with have a purpose attached. My purpose is tied to helping others more efficiently fulfill their purpose through the visual medium. The overall goal and purpose of the project should inform every decision.
Explain The Process & Reasoning
Do your due diligence in “on-boarding” your client. Take the time to explain the process and make them feel welcomed. Just as you need to feel like a teammate so do they. Throughout the process, explain your design decisions with clarity. Also, be open to critique. Try what they may want to see before rejecting their input. Showing is always better than telling. Give options and explain why, in your professional opinion, you would go with one over another. Be the professional and take responsibility for your part in getting the project from idea to tangible reality.
At the end of the day, you need to deliver. A satisfied client will become an ambassador for you. They will go forth and tell the world of how great you are. Others will be listening and come to you with confidence and excitement. Word-of-mouth references are the best. Potential clients will come ready to trust your process after seeing how well it worked out for their friend or colleague. The equity you have built with your client will go a long way in bringing in new ones. Your positive reputation grows with each successful project – putting you in a better position to serve in the future.
Completing logo projects means providing my clients all the files they will need going forward. It’s not just sending a jpeg of the finalized logo. You have to take into account all the possible ways the logo will be applied. Will this logo be used only in the digital space or will there be print elements? Will it work on light and dark backgrounds? Will all the elements of the logo translate well on multiple backgrounds and platforms? Because of these questions and more, I like to provide multiple files for my clients in the final stage.
Many discussions and revisions have led us to this point. We have arrived at the solution the brand needed. Delivery of that solution may need to be in various parts. The logo and its variations are sent in multiple formats, for web and for print. The logo is the centerpiece of their visual brand identity so it needs to be prepared to work.
First, the main logo in full color. Alternate files will include variations of the logo for it to work on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds. For more involved logos, a one-color option can also be handy to have in the future. The one-color option is very versatile. Its uses include letterhead, stamps, or even laser-cut products. For example, the Nike swoosh logo is an extremely versatile, one-color logo that can be used on various products in a variety of colors.
For combination logos (with typography and an icon), you’ll need to think how those will translate horizontally and vertically. Each element will need to be isolated and maneuvered. The results will vary depending on whether you need a banner/sign or a Facebook cover photo.
The needs of the client may require multiple components to be satisfied. Delivering for the client means providing as much value as possible. The more problems you solve preemptively in the delivery stage, the greater the value and the longer it will last.
Writing down your process is important. It is great to know how you best operate so you can communicate that with those who potentially want to work with you on a project. In this post, I will take you through the client process I typically use for my freelance design clients.
After receiving the initial questionnaire answers, we delve deeper and have further discussion with the goal to gain the utmost clarity on the project needs and goals. This is where I learn more about you as an individual and the impact you want to make on the world (or your local area) through this endeavor. Clearly defined company and project goals are required to successfully translate the story of your brand to the public. As a designer, I want to know as much as possible before any sketching or designing actually begins. Knowing the goal(s) makes it easier to come up with a brand strategy — visually and otherwise.
Design Brief and Proposal
Based on the questionnaire and our follow-up discussion, I will put together a contract that will include the design goals, pricing, and policies. The question of “How much” is reserved for this stage because an estimate can not be made without the project goals and needs being clearly defined and agreed upon. I personally don’t have set generic prices I advertise. Every project is given it’s own price estimate based on its particular needs and scope.
Project Start to Finish
Once the proposal is approved and the first deposit (usually 50%) is made then the project will begin. The personal investment made by the client means that there is buy-in from the beginning. It means they value my time. The receipt of the deposit secures their project into my schedule.
After initial sketching and digitization and refining, we will go through rounds of necessary revisions until we achieve the optimal solution. We are teammates in this endeavor. Once we have agreed on the final design(s), the remaining balance will be due. Once final payment is received, all necessary files will be turned over to the client for use.
Create your own process. Discover what works best for you. There is a confidence that comes with having one mapped out. With practice, you’ll know when to deviate and/or re-evaluate. However, the clarity of process will do you good.