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How to Have a Great Relationship With Your Graphic Designer

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How to Have a Great Relationship With Your Graphic Designer

There was silence at the other end of the phone as I cancelled coffee with a friend citing a ‘graphic designer emergency’ as the reason.

Believe it or not, they do exist. And more often than not, it’s not for lack of planning or action. The client was someone who’d found their way to me after a huge conflict with their existing creative agency. They felt they’d been overcharged and under delivered. While the designer felt they’d done everything that was agreed upon.

The conflict had escalated to a point where neither of them would budge. No bills would be paid, and no design work would be handed over. This left the client high and dry, and with the sales event booked, they were in desperate need of some marketing material.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen often. It’s usually no one person’s fault, while it’s everyone’s fault at the same time. And usually, it’s a lose, lose, lose situation. Loss of time and sometimes money for the client. Loss of income for the initial designer and a potential loss of income for the follow-up designer, especially if they’re dealing with a client who isn’t happy with paying for the same thing twice.

So how can you as a business owner avoid this situation, form a great relationship with your graphic designer and get exactly what you want?

1. Do your research.

Before you commit to anything, do your research! Ask about past clients and jump online to check out portfolios. Each designer has their own unique style and area of expertise. I, for example, specialise in branding, so when it came to designing a cover for my business book I handed it over to a designer who works within that area. And if you find that as you’re looking through their past work, you’re not responding to it positively, they are likely, not the right designer for you.

2. Communication.

Establish firm boundaries at the beginning of the transaction, including budgets, expectations and timeframes. Communicate via email or follow up with an email summary of phone calls and meetings. And funnel all communications with the designer through one company representative.

3. Contracts.

Make sure you have one. All good designers and agencies will translate the above information into a design contract, and you should see this prior to work beginning. The contract should also list the designers’ expectations of the client so that you know what you need to do and there are no nasty surprises at the end.

4. Provide examples of what you want.

This could even come in the form of what you don’t want but try to give your designer some direction. Think about colours, imagery and other visual aspects of your business; provide as many visual and written examples of what you want, as you can.

5. Speak up.

If at any time you don’t like the direction the designer is taking, speak up straight away. If you’re not feeling it at the beginning, chances are it’s not getting any better. And nothing good comes from grumbling about how unhappy you are to everyone but the person who can change it.

Design emergencies don’t need to happen! Great relationships equal great work, and with a bit of communication and some careful planning, you can have a great relationship your graphic designer.

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