How To Choose The Right Graphic Designer For Your Brand
You’ve decided you’re ready to rebrand, or you’re building your new business and want to get started on the right foot, but now the big question is, “how do I go about hiring the right designer for my project?” This truly can feel intimidating when you don’t know where to even start looking. In this post, we’re going to guide you, step-by-step, through your journey to finding and hiring the right graphic designer for your branding or web design project.
Define Your Brand
Before you even think about searching for designers to create your visuals, you must first take the time to dive deep into your brand, defining your business’ core values, brand voice, messaging, marketing, target audience, and ideal client avatar. We say this because your brand is so much more than just a logo. We go into this more detail about this in our post, “Why Branding Is Essential For Your Success”, but the overarching message we want you to understand is that your brand is “your promise to your customer.” Without strong and consistent brand messaging, values, and visuals, how can you expect your customers/clients to trust you? Without their trust, you don’t get business, which means you don’t make money. Defining your brand directly correlates to your business’ success.
Before contacting a designer, ensure you’ve defined your business’ messaging, brand voice, core values, mission, target market, ideal clientele, etc. If you need help with this, we have a free downloadable guide that asks you questions about your business, helping you dive deep and define your brand before moving on to the design phase. Download the free “Guide To Defining Your Brand”
Now that you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to set intentions for what you want out of your branding when you go to work with a designer. Make a list of specific goals. What do you want this new brand design to achieve for your business? Are you hoping to reach a higher level of clientele? Looking to have investors contribute to your startup? Want to get your product into chain stores? Be clear in defining your goals for your brand. This will ultimately steer the direction of your branding, as your designer will intentionally create a brand for your business that is geared toward reaching that goal.
Determine Your Budget
It’s important to first determine your budget before you go searching for a designer. Once you clearly define how much you’re working with, it will be easier for you to narrow down your options. The hard truth is that there’s no easy or straight-forward way to determine your budget for branding or web design. However, as you determine your budget, consider the value of investing in your visual branding; these elements will undoubtedly help you gain priceless trust, credibility, and brand recognition with your customers. Whenever possible, you want to brand yourself well the first time. It is absolutely a smart financial design to invest more in great branding, rather than invest less in poor-quality branding which you will have to have re-done.
A general rule of thumb for determining your branding budget is to look at how much money you are expecting to make in your business this year. Take that number and calculate about 5-10% of that to be spent on branding/marketing/web design. For example, if you’re a small business, say a wedding photographer, expecting to make around $50,000 gross income, 5-10% of that would be $2,500-$5,000. This is a guideline for your budget which you can invest in multiple avenues such as new branding, website design, brand photography, Instagram & Facebook ads, etc.
Keep in mind, this is a general guideline. If that percentage feels like too much to you, there is no pressure to work within that estimate. Use this calculation as a guide to finding an amount that makes sense for where your business is at. If your business is established and has been profiting consistently for a few years, then we would say 5-10% of your expected gross income feels about right. But if you’re just starting out and money is tight, consider allotting more like 3-5% of your estimated gross income and choose to invest in just one branding element that makes the most sense for you.
Collect Design Inspiration
Now that you’ve got the serious business under control, it’s time for the fun stuff! This is where you get to have fun and do some daydreaming about your branding and web design. We always recommend that our clients put together a Pinterest board for us, collecting inspiration of colors, fonts, photography, etc. that they feel inspired by. It’s a great way for us to see our client’s vision through images when words just aren’t enough. Look at sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and even books and magazines, for inspiration. Books like How To Style Your Brand and Brand Brilliance both by Fiona Humberstone are incredible sources of inspiration and guidance. However, be sure that you’re not only collecting things that you like but things you believe actually represent the style you want your business to embody. Refer to your notes or your answers from our free downloadable “Guide To Defining Your Brand” when searching for images, making sure that the inspiration you are collecting matches the words you have written to describe your brand.
Search For Designers
Start by taking a look at the design inspiration you already collected either online or from books/magazines. Is there an artist credited? Try to find website portfolios or Instagram accounts for the artists of the design inspirations you love the most. Continue by searching Pinterest, Instagram, Behance, or Google using keywords related to the type of work and design style you’re looking for, as most of the posts with have credited artists listed and links to their portfolios. Put all the website or Instagram links for the artists you like into a Word or Google Doc to revisit.
Make Your Top Picks
Once you’ve got a nice long list of artists, start going through their portfolios one by one. For each artist, carefully ensure that their portfolio shows a strong example of the quality and style of work they do. Make sure they have a somewhat consistent art style. Remember, quality is more important than quantity here. Just because a designer has fifty very different projects on their site does not immediately mean they are the best designer for your project. A well-curated portfolio with 10 or so projects is plenty if the designs are high-quality.
Also look out for testimonials on designers’ websites, Google business pages, or Facebook pages. Do they have good reviews from their past clients? Do they seem present online? Make sure you’re not looking at a designer’s old work who has since ghosted and only has one review!
Does their website seem up to date, or covered in cobwebs? Is it on-trend with modern design styles? Is their site easy to navigate? Do they have a FAQ for you to learn more about what they offer? Do they have a contact form? These are all important questions to consider when narrowing it down to your top picks.
Contact Your Favorite Designers
Once you’ve exhausted your list and narrowed it down to your top picks, anywhere from 2-5 choices is good, it’s time to reach out to inquire about your project and get a quote from each designer on the cost of doing business. Reach out via the designer’s preferred form of contact (usually you’ll find an email address, phone, or contact form on their portfolio site).
When you get in touch with each designer, be sure to tell them that you are inquiring about your project and give them some details about your business and your main goals with investing in branding/web design. Talk with them about your ideal timeline and budget for the project so they know what you’re working with. Ask them what their availability is and if they can send you a price estimate.
A few things to look out for when contacting your top picks: Take note of their communication skills. Are they quick to respond to emails, or does it take them a few days? Do they communicate well and ask strong questions? Do they seem like an expert in what they do? Do you think you’ll enjoy working with them for the next few weeks or months on your project? It’s important to find someone you click with and you feel understands your vision for your brand.
Take The Leap
Hopefully, after communicating with all of your top picks, you will be able to make a decision on which designer to move forward with. This is exciting! Once you have made your choice, let your designer know, and they will carry you through the next steps. Make sure they send you a contract and an invoice. If they aren’t running a clean business with contracts and professional invoicing systems --RUN! Move on to the next designer on your list. However, more than likely, your designer of choice will send you everything you need from day one and will guide you through the whole process seamlessly.
Best of luck to you!