The Benefits of Working with a Creative Professional.

A good graphic designer is one of the first people you should talk to when you want to start professionally branding yourself. Like I said in my other posts, it’s not all about the logo and identity but those things should reflect your brand message uniquely. The logo, message and identity form the foundation from which all of your branding is visually built on. Being able to go back to that foundation will save time in the future when you build further. Strategically guided design positions an organization to set off a very desirable change reaction: Positive impressions created higher perceived value which in turn boosts sales.

It’s important to be happy with your designer though. They have the experience but remember this is YOUR company. Designers thrive on feedback and good design doesn’t happen in a vacuum, don’t just say “oh make me something that looks nice” this is YOUR company and it represents you. Be involved in the process. Your business is personal, it means a lot to you and denying that is denying your brand. You are paying the person, make use of them. You should be happy and you should find a designer that asks the right questions and makes you feel at ease.

Like most professions, A designer produces the best results when working with a prepared client. Ask yourself before you begin, what hurdles is your company looking to overcome? What isn’t happening now that design can fix? Is there a conversion that needs to take place or a message that needs to be said? A good designer can help you determine specific solutions but they will need you to first articulate the problems and an approximate budget.

You are not expected to know everything about small business design.

This is what a skilled graphic designer brings to the table. The profession of graphic design is as rooted in strategy and skill as anything else we are likely to encounter in the business world. In involves the carefully considered combination of text and images, of data and strategy, of message and medium.

Every aesthetic choice—color, type fonts, images and structural elements—should be specially tailored to the emotions of the audience you are attempting to reach. What type of emotion are all of these elements inciting in your audience? This doesn’t require a whole lot of delving into psychology. It’s simply about understanding the obvious emotional needs of your end user, plus a few fundamentals about good design.

Working with these combinations, a good graphic designer makes the complex clear. They literally can transform intangible assets like spirit, attitude, trustworthiness, innovation and dependability into tangible visual elements that people immediately understand. A good designer take their job seriously, respectfully collaborating with their clients to create the best solutions for business.

Whether your business needs to sell services, promote new products or just create good will, a skilled designer can marry your company’s objectives with an artistic sensibility that translates into measurable results that impact your bottom line.

Design is not just about putting a coat of paint on something, it’s about making form and function come together so every part contributes. Design is about finding solutions, whether it’s how a effectively to design a showroom that moves the most people through efficiently to creating a website that drives visitors to a specific conversion. A good design can make all the difference once a client arrives at your website to continue on within it. How you interact with your customers is crucial to your brand and the designer should sit right between you, making sure that the customer gets the information they need efficiently and uniquely.

Why is having a professional opinion important?

Like any profession it’s important to talk to someone who has experience with the intricacies of combining business and design. When you have a design created, subjects like legal Issues need to be considered. Can your artwork be trademarked? If you just use clip art it can’t and not only do you run into legal issues but you also aren’t making images for your brand that are completely unique.

So how do you find your designer? LOOK. Check out advertisements for local companies that you admire, especially ones not in your field, look through your junkmail and direct mail pieces. Then contact those companies and ask for a referral. If you do that you’ve already taken a first step and found a designer who suits your style. Another good place to find designers is through AIGA, a professional association for designers. You can find a national directory of members of AIGA online at

The dangers of using “design contests”.

Some things to be wary of are “design contests” Let me explain what I mean by this and how it can go bad: What does everyone think of Nebraska’s 2010 state fair logo? State Fair LogoI don’t know about you but I think it looks unprofessional, cheap and not a good reflection of the fair or our state. It’s not just me, this  “logo” has become mocked statewide and is a prime example of bad decision that involves creative social media. What happened was that rather than hire a designer they created a contest where anyone could enter and the winner was paid a prize. No creative brief was established that clearly laid out the challenges and expectations from the perspective of the client. No professionals were approached. The result was this horrible logo and when they introduced it, people flooded their Facebook page expressing their disappointment and mocking the logo. In this case the viral capabilities of social media provided the exact opposite kind of publicity they wanted.

What this amounts to is soliciting to have people work for free with the vain hope their logo may fit the bill and be chosen. While it’s possible that it may have resulted in a decent logo there are many problems, FIRST: with design contests you often don’t know the source of the artwork. Was it plagiarized? Can it be trademarked? Do you have full copyright to the work? SECOND: Quality. As you can see from the state fair logo it’s not very good and the response was overwhelmingly bad. THIRD: There are many talented professional designers out there who would have been more than happy to work with the fair to create an affordable professional design for them.

This kind of work is like asking a bunch of lawyers to draft some documents for you. Instead of paying them you tell them you’ll look the documents over and pay the one person whom you like most. Do you think they would be okay with that? These contests have become increasingly popular and it only reinforces the old adage that you get what you pay for. Because more often than not they end badly with dissatisfied customers and upset designers who don’t get paid. I’ve seen it happen before and I’ve worked with companies that have attempted this.

There are plenty of high quality designers in Nebraska, talk to some of them, get their opinions on what you want. You’ll be glad you did.