How to Pick the Perfect Graphic Designer

Maybe you’re just getting started in business, or maybe your business is already up and running, but you’ve started to notice that your current brand identity just isn’t packing the punch you want it to. Just how do you find the right design firm to help move you up to a more sophisticated, effective level?

First, let’s just review that amorphous term, brand identity. If you ask 10 people, you’ll probably get 10 different views on just what brand identity is. Many people will equate your brand with your logo – a very common perception, but not quite correct. Yes, a logo is a critical part of your brand, but not the entire picture. Let’s look at a spot-on definition of brand identity:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” -Seth Godin

Essentially, your brand identity encompasses how your audience experiences working with you. Big picture stuff.

It’s important to find a graphic design firm that understands the entirety of what you do, even if you currently need help with a relatively small project.

Here are six things you’ll want your chosen graphic design firm to offer:

1. Listening, listening, and more listening. A good designer asks plenty of questions. A great designer really listens to your answers. Your graphic designer should be interested in understanding your business or service’s purpose (your big WHY), your position in the marketplace, your target audience, your brand personality and of course, your specific goals for improved success.

2. A relevant range of services. Creating great design is significant on its own, but some graphic design firms can help you procure the final product, whether digital or print. If it’s a website you’re after, can the firm manage its development? If you need marketing collateral, can the firm handle your printing needs? Such internal capabilities can save you a great deal of time and resources.

3. Final files. At the end of the project, it is often standard procedure for you to take ownership of your gorgeous new images. A competent design firm can provide you with a complete folder of images in the many formats that are used across all existing digital and print platforms, often in the form of a Dropbox link. If this step is completed proficiently, you will never have to scramble for the proper file format when developing future advertising or internet presence.

4. A realistic time line. We all understand that bumps come along as a project evolves. A good practice is for the design firm to break your project into phases with concomitant dates. This way, you can adjust your expectations and keep to your marketing goals.

5. Frequent communication and updates. It’s no fun to be sitting on the outside wondering what sort of progress your graphic designer may be making. Set up a schedule for when you can expect to get a progress update.

6. Staying power. I’ve learned that some people have become gun shy in hiring a graphic designer because of concern that the designer will disappear at some point down the road, leaving the client with no options for continuity. As with most services, getting referrals is a must. Ask for a transition plan to pass your project on to a future designer, should that become necessary.

Many of us look for services based on the chemistry we experience in conversation with the experts. They get me! Their design is just my style! Intuition is a powerful tool. Just make sure your chosen graphic design firm can back up that simpatico experience with great practices.

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