How to get the most out of your graphic designer

Kelley Olmedo
Kelley OlmedoDesigner

Transitioning from traditional academic to design courses during college was difficult after years of being told exactly what to do by teachers. I was suddenly given free reign and encouraged to just “be creative.” In hindsight though, the more years I put into design, the more I realized it was never truly free reign; I simply needed to adjust to solving problems creatively instead of academically, and like other designers, my straight forward, black and white approach subtlety transitioned into solving problems emotionally and intuitively.

Although designers work in a creative realm, we have different experiences, challenges and strengths, and typically need these four building blocks to solve your problem:

#1: The Message.

Tell us what you’re trying to communicate, the emotion behind it, specific concepts and the main selling point. If you have a well-defined audience, tell us who they are so we can find the best way to specifically reach them as well as the general population.

#2: Your Weaknesses.

How have you struggled as a company to get your message across in the past? When looking at what your competition is doing, are there any areas you feel they have you beat? Have you received feedback from clients or employees pertaining to misconceptions about your brand? Are there any limitations to your product offering that we need to be aware of? The answers to these questions are important so we can set you apart and show your strengths in comparison.

#3: Likes and Dislikes.

Not generic direction like “I don’t like serif fonts” (although, if that’s truly an issue, I need to know). But for example, if you’re a Texas-born-and-bred company and you like using Texas landscape imagery to highlight your brand, I need to know.

#4: Time.

Designers need time to ponder, analyze, research and think. Sometimes the solution comes to me as immediately as I sit down at my desk, but more often than not, I like meeting about a larger, more involved project on a Friday so I have the weekend to take a long hike and mull it over. I can then come back Monday morning refreshed and ready to attack it.

Designing is about problem solving.

Every piece of work from a magazine ad to a website or billboard has a specific target audience and purpose and, therefore, has the ability to influence and make a connection. This is why we, as designers, push for cohesive branding across all platforms and treat each individual piece as part of the whole.

These parameters help us create relevant and engaging messages rather than resorting to making “pretty art” and basing the creation off of our own opinions. Give us the building blocks and we’ll deliver fantastic graphic design. 

Have any thoughts about the first steps to a great graphic design project? I’m always up for great conversation so let me know what I’m missing or what you agreed with in the comments section below. And keep a look out for a future post where I’ll explain the next steps we take in our design process toward building excellent branding.

"A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it."
-Brenda Laurel