Last week, I shared my experience about finding and working with a great designer in developing the branding for Confetti by Annette. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned about finding and working with a great designer.
(1) Always be on the lookout. If you’re surfing the web and you admire someone’s website, take a look at the footer to see if the designer’s name and website are included. (As all lawyers know, the good stuff is in the fine print.) If no designer is listed, consider emailing the website contact and asking. Also, ask for recommendations from your friends, post on Facebook — you may be surprised by how many people know a graphic designer. You can also find a lot of designers offering packaged services on sites like Etsy or Craigslist. Take a look through their portfolios to determine if their capabilities and design aesthetic are a match for yours.
(2) Get creative about managing your costs. Once you’ve found someone you like, contact them and explain exactly what you’re looking for. Ask for a line item breakdown of the total cost for the work you need. If you can’t afford your dream graphic designer at the moment, don’t fret. You’ve got a few options:
First, think through what elements you absolutely need a designer to create and what you can take more of a DIY approach on. For instance, for me, at an absolute minimum, I needed the talents of a designer to develop the logo. The rest, like business cards and the website, I knew I could probably pull together myself.
If after identifying your design priorities, it is still cost prohibitive, check out sites like Mycroburst.com where you post a design project request, name your price, then have designers from around the world bid to do the work. You can also find graphic design students who are trying to build up their portfolio. They’ll usually offer their services at lower rates.
If the above options don’t work, roll up your sleeves and DIY it. You can buy some graphic clip art on Etsy for just a few dollars and use it to design your own materials.
Once your business is up and running and you are generating revenue, you can make it a goal to save up enough money to get a more complete redesign later on.
(3) Don’t let the pursuit of the perfect design stop you from starting. Many companies rename their companies, let alone their branding. Remember that especially when you fall into the black hole of design perfectionism.
(4) There’s a difference between a graphic/web designer and web developer. This one may seem obvious to some of you, but it’s worth mentioning. There is a difference between the person who designs the visual elements and the person who develops the website. Some people can do both, but it’s important to clarify what services your “designer” will be providing.
(5) Collect as many visual elements to convey your brand feel. Whether you’re using Pinterest, cutting out pictures from magazines, or saving packaging, start collecting visual images that speak to you and the brand that you’re creating. Soon, you’ll start seeing patterns. Keep an open mind about what provides you visual inspiration – nature, fashion, food, etc. I never would have guessed it, but for me, I’m super inspired by interior design. (Check out my Pinterest board – Home Sweet Home). Going through this exercise will help you develop a clear idea of your business style and will also be super helpful for your designer. After all, designers tend to be very visual people and providing these clues will help communicate a clearer picture of what you want.
(6) Get feedback from your circle of trust. Build a trusted circle of friends and advisers, then run initial drafts by them for their impressions and opinions. Ultimately the decision of your branding rests in your hands, but running it by people who have good taste may provide some insight. For instance, during my run with the first designer, we came up with one design that I thought was particularly cool. Well, one friend thought it looked like an atomic bomb. After I heard the same thing from a second friend, I knew it had to be retooled. The last thing I want people to think of when they think of Confetti by Annette is explosives!
(7) Keep it simple and fall in love with typography. Have you noticed that many of the world’s most famous brands are actually quite simple? Logos for brands like Kate Spade, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, and Nordstrom are essentially just the company name with unique typography. .
(8) Give guidance, then get out of the way. Ultimately, you’re hiring the designer because you want to rely on her experience and creative skills. While it’s important to communicate your thoughts and preferences, trust that she knows what she’s doing and let her express her creativity as well.