What you need to know before hiring a brand designer

Choosing a designer to work with can be a daunting task, especially when there are hundreds of designers you could potentially hire. As a designer myself, these are some of the qualities I believe are important for a professional working relationship, as well as a list of questions you can ask a designer to know if they are right for you.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • why you should hire a designer
  • how to find the right designer
  • questions to ask them and what they should ask you

Hiring a designer

Why you should hire a brand designer

There are truly so many reasons you may want to hire a strategic brand designer to help you build and elevate your brand.

It might be that you don’t have time to do it yourself. Often times as small business owners, we try to wear all the hats and do it all ourselves. We think we are saving money by doing it ourselves, but in the end, we spend more time trying to figure out something that is not our specialty, which takes time away from doing the things we are actually good at.

You could also hire a designer because they know design. A designer has spent years learning and practicing their skills. They know design. And even though you may have a good eye for design, that doesn’t mean you know how to do it (or even want to!). A designer will be able to talk with you about what you need and easily translate that into a design. They have already taken the time to learn how to do what they do, so you don’t have to.

A designer can also help you get a professional, cohesive look. Hiring a designer for your business will ensure that your brand, website, and graphics are designed well. They will be clean and professional looking. Your designs will be in line with your brand and everything will have a cohesive look to it. And if you haven’t heard me say it by now, a professional and cohesive brand design can be life or death to a business.

Designers can help you clarify your vision + bring it to life. Like I said, you might have a really good eye for design. You might know what you like and don’t like and you might even have a vision in your head of what you need designed. But bring the vision from your head to your computer can be a little difficult, especially if you aren’t familiar with design and design programs. By working with a designer you can talk through all those ideas floating around in your head, show them what you saw that you really liked, and explain to them what it is that you need. With their experience, they can then take all of that information and clarify it into one seamless design.

How to find the right designer

Understanding that you need a designer is one thing. Finding the right designer is a whole new mountain to climb. There are a few things to look for in a designer to help you know you’ve found the right one.

Communication between you and your designer is key when they are trying to translate you and your vision into a design. A good designer will ask you the tough questions, dig deep, and get to know you and your business as best they can. On top of that, they will also respond quickly and efficiently to your emails and project. You want someone who will be on top of deadlines and stay on track with your project. If they are slow to respond in the beginning, they may be slow to respond during your project too.

You want to hire a designer who is clear and professional in their communication and process. Once you get into conversation with them, you should be able to tell this based on how they communicate with you and what they say.

Hiring someone you know to do your graphic designs just because they are a designer won’t get you very far. It is important to take into consideration the experience of the designer and how they can really help you with your needs.  You also want to think about their design style and if it relates to yours. If they are an experienced designer, they will be able to talk with you, understand what you want and need, and create a solution for you.

Someone who is just starting out may not have the experience needed to know and understand all of these things, as well as how to translate it into design. A good designer is someone who is creative in their design and in their function. Graphic design for a business has to do more than just look pretty, it has to explain the message, sell the product, or attract the right audience.

This one is more a matter of opinion, but you should also take into account their personality and how it meshes with yours. If you click instantly, you know you have a good match, but if you just don’t like the person you probably shouldn’t work with them. If there is any tension in the relationship, it will only cause a strain on the process and could end badly for both parties.

Questions you should ask

Most professional designers will have these questions answered on their website or will automatically answer them in conversations you have about their process or work. But if you find yourself in a situation where you are hiring a designer and want to get all the information you can, this list of questions will help you make a more informed decision before signing on the dotted line.

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What kinds of projects or clients do you stay away from?
  • What do people most like about working with you?
  • Why do your clients choose you over the competition?
  • Do you have a portfolio?
  • What is your turnaround time?
  • Do you require a contract?
  • What are your payment terms?
  • Do you outsource the work or do you do it all yourself?
  • What happens if your customers aren’t happy with the work you provide?
  • What happens if you or your customer want to cancel midway through the project?
  • How many revisions do you allow before you charge per revision?
  • Who owns the creative work?
  • What is included in the package/pricing?
  • What information am I required to provide?
  • Do you maintain the sites you’ve designed after the site launches? If so, what does that entail?
  • Do I have the right to re-use the graphics on other projects or websites? If yes, is there a fee?
  • What file formats will I receive?
  • Do I get all my brand information (fonts used, color palette, etc?
  • Do you require a site credit?
  • What happens after the project is done?

Almost any designer I have talked to says that they would rather not work with someone if it just isn’t a good fit. Even though we are in business to make money, sometimes the relationship is more important than the sale. As designers, we want to make sure that we can deliver the best design for you and meet your needs. We want both parties involved to be happy with the process. Checking these boxes and asking these questions will help you ensure that you have a good fit before hiring a designer.

Questions your designer should ask you

Not only should you be prepared to ask your designer questions to find out if they are a good fit, but they should also ask you some questions to know as much as they can about you and how best to serve you. If they don’t ask you any of these questions, they might not be equipped enough to serve you.

  • What is your biggest struggle? What is the biggest issue that you are facing?
  • What have you done to try to overcome it?
  • Why do you think you struggle to overcome that?
  • Why do you want to do this project?
  • What will they use to measure the success of this project?
  • What kind of return do you think you’ll get from doing this?
  • Has there been an issue or stressor in your business in the last year? What do you hate?
  • Have you seen any functionality that stood out to you?
  • Anything that you don’t like seeing on other sites?
  • If we were having this conversation a year from now, what’s happened in your business to know you’re successful? 
  • What is your biggest goal for the next year of your business?
  • What is your vision for the next 5 years?

Recap

Taking the leap and hiring a designer can be a big decision. It is a big investment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But on the other hand, it’s usually a wise investment that will help you take your business to the next level.

If you feel like it is the right time to up-level your business, then you should consider hiring a designer to help you create a more established brand and online presence. There are several reasons you may be ready to hire a designer, but I wanted to touch on a few of the most commons ones here.

Next Steps

If you’re ready to hire a designer, the first thing to do is get on a call with them to talk about your needs and learn what they can do for you. Once you determine if it’s the best fit for you and them, then you can start diving into elevating your brand.

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