First time hiring a graphic designer?

Ten things to know before your first meeting.

1 | Get your ducks in a row.

You’ll waste your time—and hers—if you go in without an executive summary or business plan. Be prepared to talk about the long-term goals for your business, what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there.

2 | How do you want your customers to perceive your business?

Ask yourself the question, then go into the meeting prepared to answer it. Your answer gives the designer a perspective on your biz that’s incredibly helpful in creating an identity that pulls customers to your brand. 

3 | Set your budget and share it.

Your designer is a resource for money-well-spent; pick her brain. Ask for introductions to other marketing professionals who’ll share their tips for success. If money is tight, find out where you can save some without compromising the end result.

4 | Forget pop, awesome and fancy.

Avoid words that mean different things to different people. Be specific. Specificity in language eliminates confusion. Avoid the hassle of mixed messages (so not helpful in the creation of your brand).

5 | Get ready to let go.

You’re not in control of this process. Your input is invaluable, your feedback is essential and your trust is critical. Unless you’re working with a college intern or your high school nephew who likes to draw, your best move is to trust that the design professional you’ve hired knows what she’s doing, then let her do it.

6 | Trust the process.

Progress will be made with or without you. Don’t expect to watch your designer in the act. This puts unnecessary pressure on both of you and gets in the way of you getting what you’re paying for.

7 | Forget about hurting her feelings.

I’ll say it again: your designer’s feelings DO NOT MATTER. Give direct, honest feedback. Don’t sugar-coat your impressions. Negative feedback is as constructive as positive feedback and saves everyone time (and time is money). That said, who doesn’t love praise, so if you love the font, the colors and the graphic, tell her. 

8 | Practice being decisive.

If you can’t get clear on what you like, if you love something one day and change your mind two days later, it could cost you. Clarity moves the process along. Efficiency keeps the process on-track and on-budget.

9 | Don't assume your designer is a copywriter (though sometimes they are).

The language for your brand is as important as your graphics but creating that language is a different expertise. Be prepared to provide your designer with content, or ask her for a referral. Determining the direction of your content, creating a concept and crafting the language are specific skills, separate from design.

10 | Don't assume your designer is a photographer (though sometimes they are).

Images enhance the power of your brand and strengthen your advertising. Be prepared to hire a professional brand photographer. Brand photography will help you tell your story, and help you tell it better. Your designer likely has a solid referral for you.

Find the right fit, and on-boarding with a graphic designer is a fun, fluid, creative process with big yields at the other end.

Are you scared to jump in?