3 Tips for Working With a Graphic Designer

As a business owner or marketing manager, time is of the essence. You’ve got about a thousand items on your to-do list and they’re all due… right now. The last thing you want to worry about is re-explaining to your marketing firm why the graphic design they created totally missed the mark.

As a marketing firm, we try to avoid putting our clients in situations in which they are asking themselves this question. However, our reach only touches our own clients, so we’ve compiled a list of tips for how to work with graphic designers on strategic projects.

Know your assignment. (Yeah, it’s a big one.)

Simply put: What are you trying to do? Are you creating a campaign to launch a new product or a graphic to promote an in-store deal that will only be running for week? Where will it be featured? Write it out and have the strategy of how you’re going to use it fleshed out. Here’s an example:

  1. What is the campaign for?
    Breast Cancer Awareness
  2. What is your idea for the campaign?
    Breast cancer survivors will submit a personal story, and my salon will donate $10 for each story submitted. A random winner will receive a spa day, including a 60-minute massage, a 60-minute facial, a waterless pedicure, hair/scarf styling and makeup application.
  3. What is the goal for the campaign?
    Develop a strong social community through a cause close to our hearts and generate breast cancer awareness.

Know your vision. (Another biggie.)

It’s almost the most difficult part, because after writing your strategy, you’ll most likely want to run straight over to the graphic designer and blurt out your ideas and have them translated onto paper ASAP. Unfortunately, there’s a little bit of patience and another strategic communication component to this stage.

Write a basic creative brief.

We know what you’re thinking. “Ugh! More writing?” Not exactly. The graphic designer doesn’t want this creative brief to be paragraphs upon paragraphs about your plan. It needs to have visuals (this is your time to be extremely visual), lists and bullet points with the following information:

1. Campaign name
2. Assignment overview
3. List of graphics needed
4. Specs of graphics needed
5. Supporting visuals (logo, font families, Pinterest board with your vison—color palettes or example graphics you like that have already been created.)

Know how to explain your vision. (They’re all kind of a big deal.)

Now is your time to run, no, sprint over to the graphic designer and spill all of your hopes and dreams for this campaign to go viral with its beauty. But, first, you need to schedule a time, because they’re busy, too. Here are a few things to remember when explaining your vision:

  1. Be specific.
    Don’t say things like, “I just really want to make it POP.” The graphic designer will immediately think, “OK, so….” Describe exactly what you would like. For example, “I want the words ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ to be in a bold font and bright pink color.”
  2. Bring visuals.
    Bring the styles, color palettes or layouts from the creative brief to the meeting and be able to point to specific elements you would like or do not like. Don’t just say what you do or don’t like. Say, “I don’t like this style because it’s too cluttered. I want it to be simplified by using two colors instead of five.”
  3. Listen up.
    Because you have already sent the creative brief, there’s a good chance the graphic designer has an idea of what they’re going to create. (Give them a little freedom. Freedom + direction = success.) Be sure to ask the designer what their vision is and learn more about their process or limitations when creating these pieces. You might learn something.

Yes, you’re right, there’s a lot to do before you create something brilliant with your dear colleague. Just remember: You can have a great idea, but it will go unseen if there isn’t great execution. At Timmermann Group, we have internal systems and processes built into our client relationships that allow us to manage these steps of the creative process. However, these tips can always be applied to avoid communication barriers between creative and business minds.