Finding, Briefing and Choosing a Designer

Finding and engaging the right creative for your project can be difficult, especially for a small business.

Some designers will understand right away what your project is trying to achieve. They may already have experience in the sector. For those who don’t, it can take time for them to understand your business. Always try to find designers who are good listeners and who ask direct questions. You will want your designer to challenge you enough to tease out all the information they need.

The first meeting

When meeting a designer for the first time, get a grasp on how they think and how they work. Ask questions and try not to share too many of your own creative ideas. Encourage them to tell you theirs. Designers are like other professionals – they need the tools and information to be able to do the best possible job. Just like lawyers, bakers or politicians, the better the brief, the better the outcome.

The selection process

Start by looking at examples of a designer’s work. If you are on the designer’s website or viewing their portfolio, ask yourself if you can understand the original brief. This helps you assess their ability to follow and deliver on a creative brief. Consider asking to see a reference from a previous client. It may not be necessary that the designer's personality and values completely compliment yours. For example, it can depend on the scale of the project, and the level of client involvement.

The design

Design work takes time, and unless you get the brief right from the start, things can get off-track fast. It is important that the briefing process is thorough, so there are no misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Ideally, designers need to know the following about your business, project and objectives:

  • What you’re trying to achieve and your commercial objectives in broad terms
  • Who are your customers - both direct ones and indirect
  • What your communication objectives are
  • What problem is your new product design attempting to solve?
  • Who your competitors are, and what are they doing that is similar or different
  • The size of your production process, budget and timeframe

Many clients don’t like to share their budget. However, it's better both of you know early on that the designer can deliver within your expectations.

Giving feedback to a designer during the design process is also important. How you give that feedback is crucial. When critiquing a piece of design work, be sure to refer to the original creative brief. Highlight the business objectives, and if you believe that the design does not align with the creative brief, then this should be how you approach giving feedback.

Appreciate that a designer knows his or her craft just as any other skilled worker does. Designers are professionals, and they know what they are doing. To get the best out of them they need to be motivated, communicated with, and handled with professionalism.

Are you ready for change?

Often clients are not prepared for the change when it comes to signing off the new design. They get nervous about its impact. They second-guess themselves. Designers are usually more relaxed about change and more confident in their decision-making process. We know companies need to evolve to stay competitive, but sometimes businesses are unable to let go of something familiar. Wanting to change and needing to change are two different things. In most cases, an experienced designer will be able to recognise your needs during the early phases and point the client in the right direction.

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