A helpful guide to making your next creative project run smoothly, brought you by guest writer David Fallin.
Are you looking to refresh your business or company’s visual identity?
Maybe you’re in need of a high-quality advertisement for an upcoming event or an eye-catching display for a trade show.
If quality is important to you, and you want to do it right, then you will need to work with a graphic designer. This designer could be a freelancer or someone working within a larger business or design firm. Regardless, there are some basic and important things you should know when working on a creative project with a designer that will make everyone’s experience rewarding and productive.
Here is a list of helpful tips I’ve compiled based on my experience as a freelance designer and a designer working within a larger organization. Every designer works differently, and I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve found that having a ground-level understanding with my clients helps the process flow much more smoothly in a timely and efficient manner.
This is a no-brainer. Clear communication between a designer and client is vitally important to the process and helps bridge the gap between an abstract thought or vision, and a concrete, deliverable product. This is even more important when you are working with a specific designer for the first time.
When I begin working with a new client I like to sit down and have a face-to-face conversation so I can get a feel for the individual’s personality and tastes as well as find out what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past in terms of creative projects. Doing this allows me to find common ground with my client and gives me the ability to form a working language with them. Gaining insight into my client’s likes, dislikes, and past experiences helps me anticipate their needs and communicate with them in an effective way. This is why it’s important for my clients to communicate their thoughts and experiences clearly. The more information that a client gives me, the better. I use it all, along with my expertise, and creativity to craft a creative solution suited to his or her needs.
Our number one goal in project communication is to help our client reach the best result with no frustrations along the way. Email is one of the most useful tools in this process, but there are times when email can become part of the problem. We try to leverage meetings, calls, and emails strategically to keep things on track.
When we use email to send a comp, there are usually some important notes in the email that merit your attention along with the design files. Your project will run more smoothly and efficiently if you respond to questions and notes your designer includes in the email as quickly as possible.
Some clients have multiple people involved in the review process of the creative work. This often leads to multiple (and contradictory) feedback. Corrections that are sent to the designer in a “leaky faucet” manner, can cause frustrations for everyone involved in a project and kill workflow and efficiency.
To better serve you, gather all the feedback from your team and consolidate it in a single email. This leads to a better result and a quicker turnaround time, keeping your project on track and within budget. When a designer needs to make revisions due to feedback confusion, it increases the amount you pay.
Your designer’s goal is to provide the highest quality work for you and to do that they need you to provide image and logo files that are the largest and highest resolution available. If you don’t have access to great files then speak with your designer about possible solutions. I’m always quick to let my client know if their image and logo files won’t work with the dimensions and scale of their project. We discuss the alternatives and I offer potential solutions in order to get the best results.
The bulk of my workload consists of advertisements, flyers, t-shirts or other projects that involve the brand logos of one or multiple companies or businesses. At the beginning of the project, when I’m gathering assets and information, I always ask for vector versions of all of the logos that need to be included in the piece I’m designing.
Many clients are not familiar with this type of file or they aren’t sure if they have one. This could be because the original logo designer never provided a vector version of the logo. This can cause real problems and project delays, so here is a little info about vector files that will help you prepare for your next project.
[vec - tor]
A flexible, high-resolution file that allows your branding elements to be
resized without losing any image quality.
Vectors files are flexible, high-resolution files that allow your branding elements - like logos, banners, etc. - to be resized without losing any image quality. These files can also be converted to other common formats (JPG and PNG, for example) when needed.
Common vector file formats include:
Since vector files are scalable without losing quality the actual size of the file is of no concern. Vector files will also be requested from your printer to ensure the highest quality final product, so it’s important to know where these files are within your digital filing system. A designer should always supply you with vector versions of your branding elements at the end of a project. If you’ve lost these files or never received them, most designers can build a vector version; however, this takes time and could add to the cost of your project.
I hope these tips have been helpful and provided you with more confidence, knowledge, and direction that you can take into your next creative project. Creative projects can be a fun and rewarding experience when communication is streamlined and a basic working language is created between a designer and client. It’s a rewarding experience for both designers and clients alike to see an idea or thought turned into something that looks great and sends the correct message.
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