Strong visual branding is the difference between success and stagnation in business. We’re visual creatures and your visual first impression of your business can rest on your design of your marketing elements (logo, etc.). If you’re going to get serious about brand building, then you must find an experience and talented graphic designer.
Most small businesses starting out don’t have the budget to hire in-house for this, so what do you need to consider when hiring a freelance graphic designer or agency.
Many industries have a loose, underlying design theme used by successful brands within them. This greatly affects the type of design you should consider using. As an example, a snowboard clothing brand would need a very different tone and feel than a senior’s care facility.
Granted it can be useful to step outside the ordinary, it does pay to know the common themes and conventions as starting points, and it’s helpful if the designer can draw on their experience of previous work in your industry.
Range of Previous Work
However, simply imitating the style of your competitors will do nothing to build your distinctive brand. A versatile designer will have professional experience in an assortment of industries and can bring a wide range of influences into their work. Although you may want to hire a designer because of their individual style, they need the flexibility and experience to adapt their work to your company’s needs.
Does the designer have testimonials from previously satisfied clients? Most designers have some kind of testimonials, though there may be confidentiality issues that rule that out. Nonetheless, there has to be some way of checking their previous experience.
The portfolio is an absolute must, whether or not testimonials are supplied. Proof-of-ability examples are okay rather than actual client work, however, it’s necessary if you’re going get any idea of the level of work you should expect. If you’re not impressed by the quality or have other serious issues such as disliking the fundamental style, then just stop now. You’re highly unlikely to get the designer to radically change their style just for your project.
Working with Others
Wide experience should also have furnished the designer with an ability to work with others in your organization. An effective designer should be able to liaise with your web team to ensure the results match their needs. Are they happy with this level of communication, and who will be the point of contact for your staff? Also, how will you get progress reports, and who do you speak with if there’s a problem.
Delivery of Goods and Legal Issues
Which formats will the work, once completed, be delivered in? Who takes ownership of the original files, including any rejected drafts? Who retains the copyright? While for professional designers and agencies none of those should be a problem, it’s best to ensure the details are expended before commitments are made and money changes hands.
Does the designer have insurance for their work, and will they indemnify you against any risks? Trademark violations and plagiarism accusations can be costly to resolve, but they shouldn’t be your problem if they arise.
Like many creative industries, price expectations have been lowered over recent years, largely because of easy online outsourcing through bargain-basement platforms such as fiverr. However, you need to be realistic about the fees a reputable agency or freelance would charge.
If you want a relationship with a competent and proactive professional, this is going to cost more than a one-shot project ordered online. Find out what the initial fee covers, what it doesn’t, and whether a retainer option could offer a better deal all round.
No serious entrepreneur would disagree on the importance of a trusted and attractive brand, and the imagery your company uses is a crucial component of this. Taking the time to find the right graphic designer is a solid investment in the future of your business and could be that crucial aspect that puts you out in front of your competition.
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