The Top 5 Things To Do Before Hiring A Designer
I recommend that all business owners hire a designer to work with them on a brand strategy and visuals at some point in their career. It may make sense for you to do it right off the bat before you even open the doors to your business, or it my make sense to DIY until you can afford to hire the designer or branding agency of your dreams. (Pop on over to this blog post if you are thinking it may be time to take that step.) Everyone’s creative journey is different and it’s best to honor what suits you and your business versus simply doing what you think you are supposed to do.
So, cheers to you if you are ready to take the step to hire a professional designer! It’s an exciting, collaborative, and fun process, and most importantly, it’s going to bring value to your business. I could go on and on about the importance of good branding and how it affects your business, but I’ll save that for another day!
Instead, I want to give you a checklist of the top 5 things you should do before you hire a designer to brand (or rebrand!) your business.
1. Determine your budget.
First and foremost you need to determine a general budget for your project. This will help you know where you’re at when you get down to number 3 below (shopping designers & agencies). If you have fallen in love with a designer online, but can’t afford his or her services, then maybe you want to wait and save up, or maybe you need to search for someone else with a similar style, but with less experience and a lower price point. Having a general idea of your budget will help mitigate any heartbreak you may feel when you find out you can’t afford the designer of your dreams. A general idea will do here, no need to have a figured out down to the dollar. A lot of designers understand that budget is a concern when looking into professional branding services, and will be able to put a custom package together for you if needed.
2. Determine your timeframe.
Before you even start looking for a specific design agency or designer to hire, consider your time frame for your project. If you are flexible, then that’s great, as many good designers don’t have openings in their schedules right away. If you have an extremely strict timeline, make sure any designer you talk to knows that right off the bat. In general, it’s always best to start sooner than later. If you have a rush project, be prepared to pay extra for that. Start looking before you think you are ready, because even when you find your perfect match in a designer, you may still have to wait months before starting a project with them. This shouldn’t discourage you though, this just means you are making a good choice!
3. Consider what’s important and shop around.
All designers are not created equal. Everyone has a totally different style and process that they take their clients through. Think about what’s most important for you and your business and find a designer who’s style and values align with yours.
You and your team should ask questions like:
- What design style are you seeking? Is it super high-end and custom, or is it more feminine and cute-sy? Do you need someone who works exclusively in a certain industry?
- Is having a really great and authentic client experience important to you? How important?
- Do you need or prefer to work with someone local in your area so that you can meet up face-to-face?
- How do you prefer to communicate with your designer? Do you want someone who is able to hop on Skype or Zoom and have video chats, or is email communication fine?
Ask yourself as many questions like this as you can think of, and then shop around to find a design company that matches your style and places importance on the same values as you. This will help ensure that you walk away from the process satisfied and confident that you spent your money in the right place.
All designers should offer a free consultation call to see if you are right fit. If they don’t, then that’s a red flag from the get-go. Set up some of these calls with designers whose style you resonate with and see where it goes! I suggest not hiring the first person you talk to, unless you really hit it off, and get a feel for what’s out there. Branding is extremely important to the success of your business so give it the attention deserves by searching for that perfect fit.
4. Determine your target audience.
Once you have some consultation calls set up to talk to designers, one of the first questions they are going to ask you (besides what your design and branding needs are) is who your target audience is. Us designers aren’t designing a brand for you, or even your business for that matter. We are designing a brand for your target audience. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the most important part of your brand is that it resonates with your target audience. Therefore, as a designer, I can’t really ensure that your brand will be successful in that goal if I don’t know who your target audience is, My biggest hope for you is success, so before you even decide who you are going to hire, make sure you have a general idea of your target audience. (See the end of this post if you need helping with determining your target audience.)
5. Prepare your content
Okay, so this one doesn’t exactly need to be completed before you decide to hire a designer, but I included it because it’s something that should be done very early in the process. I find that many people don’t realize that brand and web designers don’t often write the copy or content for their clients. Just as you wouldn’t want a plumber fixing your electricity, you wouldn’t want a designer writing your content. Most likely, you’ll be asked to provide this to your designer yourself. Start brainstorming immediately how you are going to tackle this piece of the branding puzzle. If you have the funds to hire a copywriter, that’s probably your best bet on getting successful, effective content. If you are going to DIY, go ahead and start writing it so that your project stays on track. My number one reason for client project delays is due to lack of content. There are so many things to do to during the branding process that writing can be put on the back burner even though it’s absolutely essential to the success of your brand.
The best way to ensure that your brand is cohesive and consistent is to hire a brand agency that has both a designer and copywriter on their team. This makes it super easy on you, keeping the process streamlined, and freeing you from being the middleman between two different companies, trying to get the content from your copywriter to your designer and vice versa.
I’ve teamed up with business coach and writer, Shelly Jackson Buffington, to solve this problem. Together, we run The Look & The Feel, a full-service branding agency for the adventurous and creative. With our streamlined process, you’ll work with Shelly to determine your target audience as well as a brand strategy, and in turn she will work with you to write effective copy, that I then transform into a visual masterpiece, completely unique and custom to you and your business. We are currently accepting new clients, so give us a shout if you want to chat!
I hope this post helps you if you are in the process of hiring or thinking of hiring a designer for your branding project. As always, feel free to leave any feedback or questions in the comments below. I absolutely love hearing from you, so don’t be shy!
Hi! I'm Callie, a brand and web designer based in the creative city of Atlanta, Georgia. Here on my blog you'll find branding tools, tips, and resources as well as the occasional self-care article. I love travel and adventure, animals (especially mine!), and designing custom visual brands that stand out among the competition.