Rules of engagement: when it’s time to hire a graphic designer

Loreto Cheyne

So your business is ready for a graphic designer. Your business image needs it, and your marketing budget is ready for it.

My first thought is “Yay! good for you!”

And my second thought is: “let’s have a discussion about your role and your designer’s role in this working relationship.”

Today I want to share some thoughts about hiring a designer, so you can have a great experience. For any relationship to work, both parties must have responsibilities and expectations that need to be met. That includes you and your soon-to-be designer. Please remember that although you will be doing the hiring, both parties will have to hold up “their end of the bargain” for the relationship to succeed.

What your new designer should bring to the table

  1. Check out a few designers, their websites, social media pages, their portfolios. Make sure their style is compatible with yours. 
  2. Your designer-to-be should be a “real” designer. One who has graphic design training from an accredited college. Not your neighbour’s teenage kid, who has a laptop and a bootleg version of Photoshop.
  3. Your designer should be clear about what he/she will provide, and what the fees are. He/she should also be clear about how you two will get in touch, and how often. In the past, I’ve heard of designers who refuse to talk on the phone with clients. They wanted emails only. If that works for you, that’s fine;  if that’s not what you want, this may be a red flag. 
  4. When it comes to logo design, your new designer really must provide vector artwork. That means working in Adobe Illustrator. If she/he tells you that Photoshop files are the only thing you need, walk away. You will end up paying (someone like me) later on to have your logo vectorized.

Now it’s your turn: your responsibilities as a client

  1. The relationship between designer and client is simply about communication. The most important tip I can give you is this: please make sure you hire a designer you feel comfortable with, you can talk to. A designer who will listen to your feedback, but will push back when you insist on a tacky cliché for your logo. 
  2. When your new designer books a meeting with you, especially an intake/initial meeting, please be present. Be there 100%. Don’t “squeeze her in” to your busy schedule. The purpose of those meetings is to find out information about your business....information that will help your designer create the visuals that represent your business accurately. So please, be present. 
  3. If you’re at a stage where hiring a graphic designer is necessary, I’m going to assume that you don't have time to look over her/his shoulder for very long. Please don’t micromanage your designer. If they’ve asked you all the questions they need to, you shouldn’t have to “check on the progress” every few hours.
  4. If things aren’t going well, and you suspect that you need to fire your designer, do it. Do the kind thing and fire him/her. If the relationship isn’t moving forward to your satisfaction, and you aren't getting the creative results you want, it’s time to end it. Avoiding her phone calls and emails isn’t the way to go about it.

And there you have both sides. If you're in the process of looking for a designer and need some advice, please don't hesitate to contact me. I promise I will not try to convince you to hire me instead :-)

Have a great June!


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