Design is sadly one of those skills that everyone thinks they can dabble in with success – everyone’s a designer right?
Quite often what people believe is modern, consumer-friendly branding actually makes their product look like a weed killer brand circa 1976. So now we’ve established that most products need professional help when it comes to look, feel and positioning, here’s a few tips on how to find, nurture and keep your designer, or design agency.
Step 1 – Looks matter
So, you’ve decided you need professional design help. Your first job is to find the right person/agency for your brand: all designers are not created equal. That doesn’t mean that some are better than others (although that is obviously also true), it does mean that you need to find a designer that will understand your brand and most importantly your target market.
- Clarify if it’s a branding, digital or graphic design agency you need – they’re actually different. Although some say that they’re a one-stop shop, the most effective agencies in our opinion are those who specialise.
- Is it an agency or individual you need? The decision is largely based on the size of the project, the amount of support you’re going to need and of course… budget.
- Take your time to browse the websites of different designers and agencies, look at the type of projects they’ve completed, former/current clients. Does it all feel along the lines with what you’re trying to achieve?
- We recommend choosing three different agencies/designers to speak and meet with initially. This will enable you to get a good feel for each (in the biz we call this a ‘chemistry meeting’) and also a holistic view of costs and services on offer.
Step 2 – Brief or be damned
A clear brief to a designer is worth a thousand words and will save you a whole crap of hassle (that’s a technical term btw). Without a clear understanding of what you want, it is likely your designer will meander into the creative wilderness and present you with something so far off what you want – you may wonder if you’re talking about the same product.
- Listen to their advice, even if you don’t agree with it – they tend to know what they’re talking about and are not being difficult just to annoy you.
- Leave plenty of time for design. You may think all designers throw screwed up bits of paper into the bin for a few minutes before coming up with an award winner – they don’t. The good ones spend hours, sometimes days researching – from target market to current colour trends and semiotics.
Step 3 – ‘Simple’ does not mean ‘cheap’
If we had a quid for every time a potential client said “it’s only a simple pack design, it won’t take you very long… and by the way our budget is £50” we’d be sunning ourselves in St Tropez right now. Anyone, and we do mean anyone, can create a brand design that looks like something the cat threw up. It takes skill to produce a nuanced look with a light touch that still draws people in.
- Trust your designer’s skill and experience. Of course, if you hate something say, but if they tell you something won’t work, let them explain why rather than insisting immediately that they change it.
- If your designer produces amazing work in double time, that’s probably because they’ve already spent years acquiring the expertise to do so. Don’t insult them by saying you could have got a fresh grad to do a similar job for half the price.
Step 4 – Praise be
Although designers are numerous and multiplying faster than a colony of rabbits on Red Bull, if you value the one you have then let them know. Of course, we’re not saying designers are high maintenance (cough…), but it is rumoured that without praise, designers souls wither and die.
- When it comes to criticism, designers respond better to what’s commonly known as the “sh*t sandwich”. It goes something like “we absolutely love the bold font against the silver background, but we’re not too sure about the oversized buttocks on the front, however, the cap font colour is fab”.
- Blame the boss if you must alter any branding concepts. Designers appreciate that clients don’t really know anything, so it will soften the blow.
- Tell them how good their quirky outfits look and do not look startled when they divulge what they’ve spent on a pair of retro walking boots for their weekend foraging “experience”.