By understanding how graphic designers work, you’ll be able to produce a better brief and get more out of their services. Here’s what makes them tick.

When working with people who get paid in exchange for creative ideas and designs it’s a matter of finding the right fit for your business and this starts with good communication.

You need to know your business

You need to be very clear about what the objectives are and reasons for the design project. You also need to be clear in your head regarding your business brand, it’s target audience and your point of difference. It’s not the designer’s job to rewrite your business plan. The clearer and tighter your project brief, the more time your designer can spend on what they are trained for - design.

Designers need to know your budgets

Most people, creatives included, get uncomfortable about talking about dollars. They’re usually more keen to talk about the design outcomes than they are about how much that outcome will cost.

Most designers can conceptualise how long something will take. Ask them for a guideline for times, and understand that this time is not usually in one go. Then know their hourly rate. 

Designers need to know your deadlines

If a designer has quoted ten hours, this is not done in one sitting, so don’t expect them to spend two five hour days to complete your job. A creative will approach your job in chunks. First, they will research, and collate ideas. They might come back later (or on another day) to sketch up the ideas that they’ve collected. They will then put it aside, to come back with fresh eyes. Expect the designer to have picked up and put down your job about four to six times before they come back to you with ideas. Yes, that’s about one week to ten working days. This results in a better quality product, and better value for money, because the designer is actually thinking about your project even off the clock, as they scope for ideas throughout their non-working day. 

Designers aren’t as precious as you think

When a designer presents you with their ideas, they are not going to throw their hands up in a tantrum if you don’t like them. There are key points in a creative process that the designer needs feedback from the client. Remember, though the drafts may be digital, they are not the final art. Designers need to know as much about what you don’t like, as much as what you do like. In fact, the negative feedback can be more valuable than thinking something is just okay.

They will throw their hands up, however, if you change your mind about your strategy, meaning they have to start the research process again. Know your strategy before you engage the designer.

Designers aren’t copywriters. Or tagline creators. Or campaign writers.

Supply your designer with good copy. This not only helps the designer find the best design fit for your message, it also makes your investment with them better. A designer will do their best to make do with what you send them. You know what you need to say, the designer paints the picture. If you are terrible at writing copy, or you can’t focus your message, then get a brand strategist on board before you spend a cent more on design. Graphic designers are a part of the marketing team, not the whole department.


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Amanda van Kuppevelt

Owner and founder of Delineate who's mad keen about client successes