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What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Branding Designer

Fun fact: before I threw myself into the world of blogging and spending my days elbow-deep in glitter, glue guns and gin, I managed a amazing graphic design studio. I would spend my days working with fabulous clients and holding their hand as we guided them through the design journey.

Fast forward to late 2015, the tables turned and it was my time to be the client.

I was about 1 year into my blog journey, and thus far had used the (free) logo template that came with my website theme as my brand mark. Yes, it was an ok place to start but the problem was, it wasn’t original and it said nothing about who I was, or how I wanted to be seen by the world. And really, isn’t that what branding is?

Passionate Piece of Advice #1: Unless you’re a shit-hot designer, hire a professional to do your branding.

Why do you need a new brand? Is your current brand outdated? Has your business changed direction? Or perhaps you’re like me– you’ve created your own logo using free fonts or templates and now it’s time to get serious and hire a professional.

Having just gone through the process (with the divine Jessica Safko from Love Plus Color) I thought I share my experience from my time in an agency and as a paying client. Grab a notebook and let’s get started!

Step 1: Your Pre-Branding Homework

Before you hire a designer, there’s some homework you need to do. A great designer will help you explore these points deeper during the branding process, however you’ll need to have a clear idea in mind before you press ‘go’.

Start With Your “Why”.

Ask yourself “why do you do what you do?”. What is that big power that drives you to create your product or service? What problem are you solving for your ideal client? What value do you bring to their lives?

Being clear on your “why” will not only define your brand mark’s design, it’ll also dictate your tone, voice and value.

Nail Down Your Ideal Client

Passionate Piece of Advice #2: If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.

Take a pen and paper and start jotting some key information about your ideal customer. Give him/her a name and start with some general information about them such as age, gender and income.

Now start to think a little deeper about them. What are their personal values? What do they aspire to? What are their goals in life? What are their fears? And what drives the decisions they make?

Having a very clear, very specific ideal customer in mind will hugely dictate the design of your brand, and also the way you communicate through your email newsletters, social media accounts and blog posts.

Step 2: Finding a Designer That’s the Right Fit.

When I first found my designer Jess (via Instagram), I spent a lot of time looking through her portfolio, reading her blog posts and scrolling through her social media pages.

Not only is it important to find a designer whose aesthetic you love, you also need to resonate with their values. What does their writing style say about them? Do they love to empower brands just like yours? The connection between designer and client is integral to creating a beautiful brand.

Passionate Piece of Advice #3: When it comes to spending money on branding, this is not an area you should be frivolous. Spend your money wisely, however remember that this is a long-term investment. A good brand will last you at least 5 years. 

Once you’ve settled on a shortlist of designers, get in touch and ask them about their process, prices and what’s delivered as part of your package. Some questions to ask are:

  • What is the process you’ll take together? For example, how in-depth is the research and exploration stage? Is there a preliminary questionnaire? Will they discuss mood boards?
  • How many meetings will you have, and how available do you need to be during the process? My designer was based in L.A, whilst I was in Australia. The 16 hour time difference (yes, really!) meant that we both had to plan well in advance our Skype meetings.
  • What homework will you have?
  • How many branding design concepts will be delivered? And how many rounds of modifications are included? All designers work differently, however most deliver 2 unique concepts. What’s important to know is how many rounds of changes are included in the original price in the case you’re not happy with the original design.
  • What files formats of the branding will be delivered? Will it just be your brand mark in JPEG and EPS (which is pretty standard)? If so, how much will is cost to have mono, reversed or black and white versions created?
  • Will you receive a style guide?
  • How much does additional stationary cost, such as business cards, email signatures or letterheads?
  • How long does the whole process take?

Now that you’ve selected a designer that you love, here are some tips to ensure you both collaborate well together:

  • Remember that design is a two way street. A designer’s job is to take all of the pieces of the puzzle (your aesthetic, your values, your target audience) and piece them together into a brand that you love. The clearer you express these things, the better.
  • Allow for creative freedom and encourage the designer to step outside of the box. Remember, you’ve hired an expert so let them go wild with their ideas and bring a new perspective to the table.
  • Always think about your target audience. Remember, your target audience isn’t you.  When looking at a design concept always remember to think about them and whether it resonates with their values.

Have you ever gone through a rebrand? Or are you considering one? If so, what pearls o’ wisdom or burning questions do you have?

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