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Working with a design studio

Collaborating with a design studio for the first time can be intimidating, we cover some areas that will make working with graphic designers a dream.

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Your business is your baby and as risky as it sounds, entrusting the entire brand identity and reputation to a strange team of graphic designers, is the smartest thing you can do from a business perspective. You’d be foolish not to do your due diligence and learn how to get the most of your designers resulting in the best creative outcome. Deciding who to work with on branding, design or creative work can be a challenge. As with any investment, some simple research, questions, and your gut can lead to a happy and prosperous relationship producing some clever work.

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Before you start searching for the perfect studio or graphic designer, think about what you need. We’ve outlined some areas that can help aid this process and ensure that you get the most out of your partnership with your chosen studio.

 

Understand exactly what you need

Understanding how you’ve arrived at this point, why you picked up the phone is vitally important. A single-page business plan or goal planner will help highlight the change you’re looking to achieve, revealing your purpose. Answering what the problem is and what the big win looks like helps massively when it comes to briefing your project with the designers.

 

Set realistic ambitions

Creating a brand for a start-up or a local business is relatively straightforward compared to creating a brand for a business that has plans to expand internationally. The bigger the ambition, the more time, consideration and resources must be spent on building the brand. Sometimes our ambitions can exceed budgets or timescales and it is the designer’s job to set and manage realistic outcomes in such circumstances.

 

Know your budget

Business to Consumer (B2C) businesses don’t last long without a solid brand as their long-term success relies on building the same deep and meaningful connection with their audience that branding is all about. Yet this is often overlooked for other bits within their business plan. A typical B2C business should look to spend around 20% of its start-up budget. Treating your brand at this early stage as a tick box exercise will lead to it needing to be done again, resulting in lost opportunities, costing more money and time than if the appropriate investment was made at the start. For a B2B brand, we recommend around 10-15% of your budget be allocated to branding.


Think carefully about the problem at hand and how much you are willing to invest prior to searching for a graphic designer or studio to work with. We ask clients their budget to see if it matches up with their ambitions and objectives for the project. If your budget is too low then the designer should make you aware of it, as the end product will not be able to effectively deliver any meaningful outcomes.


You wouldn’t spend a big sum of money solving a small problem, nor should you try and solve a big problem with a small budget. Understanding this side of your project is hugely important so that you get the most out of your budget and the design studio can allocate the correct resources in solving the problem.


Remember - A considered brand will last you for years. It will pay dividends over the years, supporting growth, through new business and talent; it’s not a short-term investment or just a tick box exercise to get a logo. This will become the face of your business or product and it deserves to be the best it possibly can be.

 

Deadlines

Time is just as important as the money you’re investing in a design project. Yesterday and ASAP are not deadlines, unnecessary urgency will help no one. The more time you can allocate to the design studio the better the outcome for all involved.

Think and plan ahead.

 

Think long-term

Look for a partnership, not a supplier. Any good design studio will look to support your brand beyond the handover. Branding is a never-ending journey that requires careful management to remain targeted and current. You’ve already invested in getting the core of your brand identity established, to succeed you should look to stick to your brand strategy and guidelines.

 


Here are some handy Dos & Don’ts when working with designers.


​Do


Ask for references and testimonials. Nobody wants to be the first, you want to know you’re in safe hands, by asking for references you can check with previous clients what the studio was like to work with and gain an inside view of the process that the studio will take you through.


Review case studies rather than glossy portfolio pieces. Ask to see case studies on previous projects that the studio has completed. Case studies will provide great insight into the problem, the solution and more importantly the outcome. This will give you a better sense of what the studio can do for you, as simply reviewing a portfolio based on visuals it can often boil down to personal taste.


Overexplain. Too much detail is never enough. No designer will fault you for overexplaining, be specific and don’t hold back. This is a collaborative process that thrives on sharing ideas, experience, and criticism. The working partnership should be open and allow for free speech, so let loose with the details and provide as much detail and feedback as possible. Your designer will thank you.


Get it in Black & White. Make sure you have a work agreement outlining the work that will be delivered for the price you are paying, how many amends and who will own the IP. These agreements may seem like a waste of time, but it keeps everyone right and more importantly keeps both parties protected.


Enjoy the process. This is the creative industry, this is meant to be fun. Enjoy it

 

Don’t


Ask for free or speculative work. The studio or designer should have plenty of examples, case studies and testimonials to back up their work should you need proof of their capabilities.


Negotiate on behalf of every MacBook owner. If your cousin can do it better/cheaper/faster on their Mac, let them. You’re looking for a professional, a studio with expertise and you’re investing in your company’s future and success, it is wise to get a designer who is up to the job.


Be a back seat driver. Remember the reasons you’ve hired the studio, trust in their process and expertise. A strong creative process will allow room for collaboration and a good studio will ensure that you feel part of that process every step of the way. Trying to do the job of the designer will only seek to hamper the creative outcomes.



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