THE MEETING: We establish a plan and talk about deadlines.
Be clear about your deadlines and check to be sure they are realistic. To be on the safe side, add a little extra time. Projects often get delayed and things generally take longer than you hope they do. Determine exactly what parts of the project will be done by the team at ITG, and what the requirements will be of you.
BE SPECIFIC about what you’re seeking in a design.
No one knows your business better than you. So tell us all about yourself. Provide us a “brand brief”, which is simply a document that describes your company, gives a description of your products and services, unique things about your company, a description of your ideal customer, some samples of logos and colors that match your branding, and samples of text you’ve written so we can get a feel for the tone of voice you use when talking to your customers. Give examples of what your competitors are doing and what you like and don’t like about what they’re doing. It is a collaborative effort, but we need to know exactly where you’re coming from to help create a vision for your marketing.
IDENTIFY your audience and your objective.
These are crucial bits of information to share with us. Designers can “speak” to your audience if they know who they are. And, if the objective is to shock, soothe or sell, the designs can reflect these moods. More often than not, design ends up being a reflection of what the business owner likes. There’s nothing wrong with injecting your preferences into a design, after all, you have to look at it more often than anyone else. However, those preferences should only exist to the point that they mirror the preferences of your target customer. Get inside the mind of someone who you think is a perfect customer for your business. What style will they like? What words will speak to them? What imagery will evoke emotion and make them intrigued and interested in learning more about your business? It doesn’t really matter if you like photos of nature with Fall colors. Will your customer be able to connect with those ideas? Otherwise, the piece is ineffective.
The design process should not cause angst.
Your materials are important to everyone involved including our design team. But keep your perspective. Every piece cannot be all-things-to-all-people. Hopefully, the piece you’re working on now will be followed by another and another and another, each helping to create the cohesive whole brand image that you are trying to convey. The longer you agonize over a piece or tiny little details, the less likely your changes will appreciably change the strength of it. A brand is not won or lost on the basis of a single piece of print material or website page.
YOUR MATERIALS: Provide all the elements you are responsible for to ITG.
Gather up ALL the materials you are responsible for and provide it to ITG in a timely fashion. Providing us your text and images the day before you need your brochure is a recipe for disaster. Mistakes happen at the best of times, but adding an impossible deadline into the mix is only asking for trouble.
FINALIZE COPY before handing it over to the design team.
Come prepared to provide materials. Our graphic design fees are charged by the hour, so once we have your materials, every tweak to the copy costs money. You may need to edit copy to better suit the design layout, but if you enter into the design phase with final revisions behind you, you will save money. Send your copy all at once, not in 10 separate emails to avoid confusion so that there are fewer mistakes.
MAKE CHANGES – all at one time, not piecemeal.
You’ll absolutely want to make changes. But do so all in a single session, if possible. Every time you “Make the logo bigger on page 4” or “Make a page break before that subhead,” we must assemble the digital files, style sheets, scans, photos and fonts that make up your piece and open everything onscreen to make changes. Each time you do this, you are incurring increasing hourly charges to accommodate these changes. Changes are fine; piecemeal changes are more confusing and costly.
COMMUNICATE your changes clearly.
It can be very frustrating for a designer when a client isn’t clear enough with their feedback. Don’t just say, “I don’t like it,” or, “I like purple instead of red, what do you think?” For one thing, your ITG designer chose the color they thought was best the first time around, so that question is pointless. But, providing more feedback than what you like and don’t like can help. If you say things like “those colours are too calming for me, I was hoping to convey a feeling of energy and excitement here” that is much more helpful. In this example, you’re not telling us what to do, you’re simply pointing out your intention for what emotion the piece should convey.
Let the ITG professionals do their job.
There are many business owners who hire creative professionals and then micromanage them. This really hinders the creative process and the resulting project isn’t nearly as effective as it could be. You’ve hired us our expertise, so why aren’t you trusting it?
We love your feedback, and share your enthusiasm for your projects, but our creativity hugely suffers and we cannot provide you our best work with a “backseat” designer. When you hire the right professionals, it’s important to remember that we are trained to know which images work best and how to design effectively, so force yourself to take a step back and listen to our guidance.