Friday, May 27, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: Submarine Parade (part 2)

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

This feature is part two of the series by 

Choosing a Graphic Designer

You have a fabulous product, idea or service.  You have stellar customer service.  And, you have a marketing plan.  What next?  Now you need to leave the sweat pants at home and show up in a suit like the big boys.  You need to LOOK like you belong.  You need a graphic designer.
Design is, at its core, simply visual communications.
Everything your potential customers see concerning your business, from flyers to websites to hangtags, conveys a message about your business and your product. Having a professional pull all of these elements together for you will give your company a polished and professional look and feel that will translate into sales.
How do you find a designer who is right for you?  Here are the important questions to answer before you begin your search…

  1. What do I need? Do you have existing branding in place, such as a logo that you need incorporated into your design or do you need branding advice as well as graphic design.   Do you need an existing website overhauled or do you need to start from scratch.  Are your needs purely digital or will you need print material?  Will you need help in the long run or is a one time interaction?
  2. How much can I spend? Know your budget.  Graphic design, like most services, can range from a small fee to an enormous investment.  Do you simply need a blog header tweaked and a WordPress template installed or do you need a cutting edge original look complete with concept art, original artwork and a long run high concept branding strategy?
  3. Who is your audience? Hopefully you have already answered this question.  This will be the first question a good designer will ask you.
So, now you start your search.  Ask your contacts for references and take a look online.  Graphic designers range from newly graduated or self taught artists working from a laptop in Starbucks to professionals with years of experience both in art as well as programing working for large design firms.
Take a look at their portfolio.  Do you like their previous work?  Is it similar in platform to what you need?  Are their previous clients still utilizing their designs?
Here are some questions to ask when you find one you like…

  1. Does the designer have experience working with styles and formats similar to what I need?  If you need a Word Press site, you’ll want someone with WP experience.  If you need a 24 page full color catalog, hire someone with experience working in print.
  2. Does the designer do logo creation and branding? If not, you may need to find one that does or have them work with a marketing and branding expert.
  3. Are they in your price range?  Be honest and up front.  Most graphic designers are professionals like you, and you will have to work together to come up with the best solution to your graphic needs.  You will most likely find that your designer will have a range of services and prices, and they may be able to work with you even if you are on a tight budget.
And finally, a few tips when working with a graphic designer…
  1. Communications is key.  The more the designer knows about your business and your preferences the better the end product will be.  Keep all expectations, especially concerning timelines and payment clearly stated and consistent.  If you hate what they are doing, tell them, but be professional.  An experienced graphic designer understands the subjective nature of his or her work and most likely expects to go through a draft or two of a design before finding the perfect one.
  2. Let them do their job.  You are not designing your bedroom. You are designing for your clients, and hopefully your designer will know more about what works best for your audience visually than you do.  That is why you hired them.

Thank you so much Rebecca for sharing this info with us.  If you are interested in being featured in this space, please use the Contact Tab at the top of the blog.


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