Hiring the right graphic designer

Whether you need a logo, website, or any other piece of marketing material, you’re probably going to need the help of a good graphic designer. If you already have someone who can do the job – that’s great, but most business owners don’t start out knowing how to find a good graphic designer. Most of my clients definitely like the idea of “one designer for all their needs”, this saves them time & money not having to develop several different relationship. Another huge benefit is creating a consistent brand expression is critical to your brand equity.

The first decision you need to make is – do you want to take a project approach to hiring the right graphic designer or find a designer you can work with whenever you need help. There are a lot of good designers out there – and they’re all different. Creative ability is just the beginning – practical application of that talent is really what separates them. It’s pretty typical for startups to think – I need a logo, so I’ll hire a logo designer. Next, I need a website, so I’ll hire a web designer, and oh yeah, I need business cards, so I’ll find a different designer for that. All three designers may be very talented, and you might be very happy with the individual results – but it’s not the best way to develop a consistent brand. It also requires establishing multiple relationships, that takes more of your time, and you’ll need to make sure they stay on the same page and share common brand assets.

Communication throughout the process is critical. Posting projects online usually means you don’t even get to have a real conversation, maybe just a few back and forth emails. Many online designers don’t even speak the same language.

Strong relationship is as important (if not more) as the talent. Find the right business relationship is easier than it use to be. Meetings don’t have to be face-to-face – with today’s technology you can use join.me, Skype, or Go-To-Meeting, instead traditional sit down meetings (which a lot of us still prefer, just not as efficient).

Finding the right designer is a huge factor in your business’ success. Strong value proposition, concise messaging & frequent outreach are all critical to your marketing plan. But you’ll need great design to really make it happen – make you stand out – engage your audience – influence behavior – and build a strong brand identity.

10 things to look for when hiring the right graphic designer:

1. Skills. While a lot of designers share the same skill sets, those who have worked in creative agencies usually have served a variety of clients and are efficient with their time. In-house corporate designers have developed skills across different disciplines and generally better equipped to deal with tight budgets. Now if you can find one person with a combination of both histories – you’ll have the best of both.

2. Portfolio. Take a close at their online portfolio. If they only show a small sampling, it could be they lack experience. See if you can find a broad variety of work in different industries, especially in those similar to yours. Think about how they fit with your immediate – and more long-term needs.

3. Expertise. How do they think? Do they have a blog? Are they active in social media? What does their LinkedIn profile say about them? Are they focused on showing samples of their work, or do they also offer helpful advice and tips? If you can learn from them, then you’re getting extra value.

4. Testimonials. If they have a web page of testimonials, it tells you that their customers really like working with them and are willing to say so.

5. Expectations. Will you get the level of attention that you need? Clearly state your expectations – to avoid wasting a lot of each others time. And try to remember, you are not the only client – and you can’t always come first.

6. Local. Local designers allow you the chance to meet face-to-face and discuss your needs. Have a conversation that goes deeper than just the project at-hand. Understanding your business, product or service, audience, industry and your competition is key.

7. Cost. Generally you’ll find that less-experienced graphic designers charge a lower rate, they tend to work a little slower and might need more guidance – that probably means more of your time. Experienced designers charge higher hourly rates, but usually need less direction, work more efficiently, and have more polished skills. Sometimes can be a cheaper option in the long run. They also tend to know industry experts & vendors, so they can help you find the right resources to complete the project.

8. Value. Research what graphic design costs and determine your budget before you contact anyone. Think of good graphic design as an investment – the face of your business is a really important.

9. Big Picture. When interviewing, take notice of how a designer views your needs. Are they thinking project-to-project, or do they want to understand the big picture – and how it all fits into your plan? A designer who thinks beyond the project is probably better suited to provide advice that fits your big picture.

10. Stay Open to Ideas. Experienced designers have likely been there, done that, and may offer ideas that causes you to rethink some of your’s. If you tell them, “I know exactly what I want. I just need someone to make it pretty,” you might get what you want – but it just might not be what you really need!

Best advice – hire a relationship, not just talent

Find a dynamic working relationship to gets results – that both look great & grow your business

Find a true creative professional that is willing to help you along, that understands that it will benefit both of you in the long run. The designer should love what they do, but they also need to understand your business challenges & long-term vision, which in turn helps them to provide the best solutions.

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