No matter what your project is, it may well be the first thing that someone sees about you. Whether it is a book cover, board game box, brochure, photo, business card or social media post, the design you place into the world represents you. It only takes a few seconds for someone to make a judgement about you. You are intimately involved in your project and you see it every day. Do you always think about every detail of your design? Do you ever put out a quick social media post and think, “That’s good enough”.
I like to use a dinner party analogy. Let’s say that you decide to host a fancy dinner party. You spend days working on the menu, the ingredients, and picking the right wine pairings. You clean your home and buy a new outfit. However, when your guests sit down to the table, you serve it on paper plates and use cheap plastic silverware and cups. While the food may be awesome, their first impression of the meal is that it’s cheap and that you didn’t care enough to bring out the good china.
A professional graphic designer will work to make sure every detail is as perfect as possible, to communicate the exact message consistantly across your brand. If a potential client is seeing you for the first or tenth time, they need to see a relevant, clear message that reflects your product. Utilizing the services of a professional graphic designer will assure that you get this quality. They will want you to succeed.
What should you look for in a graphic designer? You want someone who asks questions. Your designer may ask for a creative brief. This may be a verbal meeting or a formal document. They will ask you about your business, your logo, your mission or vision. They will want to know about your current branding, colors, fonts and art. They will want to know the purpose of this project and the intended result. I like to reference three C’s: Clear, Concise and Complete.
This may sound a bit intimidating, but really isn’t. I recently did a project for table tents for an event. The creative brief was a short meeting with the client, where they showed me a sample of what they were looking for. They wanted it branded with their logo and a piece of art that they supplied. They told me in about two sentences what the usage would be. That was all that was needed. I knew what colors to use and the font and art styles that were appropriate. I knew the message that they wanted to convey and how they wanted it to look. The job was simple and was approved on the first proof.
When you look at a designer’s portfolio, you should not necessarily look at their style. While a designer that has a style that you like may be a plus, looking at their portfolio to evaluate the effectiveness of their communication is a better way to review. What was the purpose of the portfolio piece? Is it successful in communicating the message? Is the designer able to convey different messages clearly in a way that reflects the client. The designer should show flexibility and the ability to view each client and each project distinctly.
There are hundreds of tiny details that a professional experienced designer will look at. They may give you advice on how to approach the project differently from your initial brief. If you are prepared to listen to their feedback and discuss the possibilities, they will give you a quality project that meets or exceeds your expectations.