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Jennifer Soucy

 

If you’ve never worked with a professional designer, hiring someone to create your logo and other brand assets might seem intimidating - but it’s one of the most important steps in starting your business. Having a professional and distinct brand gives you credibility and helps you stand out from your competition. This guide will walk you through the process.

 

Introduction

You’re starting a business or beginning your career as a freelancer - great! One of your first steps, right after determining your value proposition and target clients, should be to work with a professional designer to create your brand. But how do you do that?

 

  • Step One: Identify your needs and budget - flexibly!
  • Step Two: Find a designer
  • Step Three: Create a brief and complete the project
  • Step Four: Use your new brand - consistently!

 

Step One: Identify your needs and budget - flexibly!

As a new business or freelancer, your needs will vary depending on your industry and target market.

For instance, while almost every business needs a logo, whether to spend money on professional (paper) brochures or catalogs or a website depends on whether your clients are local businesses or web-based entrepreneurs.

Good design is an investment. In the long run, a budget logo design sourced from sites like 99Designs or Fiverr won’t do you any favors, and may even hurt your company. Many designers will work with you to create a long-term relationship, creating assets in stages as your business grows. Don’t assume you can’t work with a pro just because you have a low budget.

 

Step Two: Find a designer

Like most things, the best way to find a graphic designer is word of mouth. Ask your network for recommendations of awesome designers they’ve worked with and talk with other freelancers on Domino for recommendations. Alternatively, you can look at portfolio sites like Behance or Dribbble for available professionals.

The important thing is to find someone with experience with projects similar to yours, who can guide you as you establish your brand. Working with a designer isn’t just about “making pretty pictures. It’s about connecting and communicating with your customers.

As you look at portfolios and interview designers, here are some questions to ask yourself:

 

  • Does this designer have a style similar to the style I wish my brand to portray, whether that’s corporate, grunge, hipster, or something else?
  • Do they communicate clearly? Does their portfolio show not only what they’ve done, but why they made the creative choices they did for each project?
  • Does your working style seem to mesh with theirs? Do they seem to understand your business and target audience?

 

Once you’ve found someone you want to work with, you’ll need to sign a contract (this protects both of you) and in most cases place a deposit for up to 50% of the cost of the project.

 

Step Three: Create a brief and complete the project

Once you’ve identified a designer to work with, the first step of any project is to create a brief. This is a collaborative effort between you and your designer, and you may find you learn a lot about your business in answering their questions.

Depending on the project, whether it’s a new logo, a re-vamped website, or a brochure that ties into your existing marketing materials, questions your designer may (should!) ask include:

 

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your brand personality?
  • What is the goal of this particular item?
  • Do you have existing brand assets or identity standards?

 

This discovery process may be formal or informal, depending on the designer and the scope of the project. The design brief may be as simple as an email confirming the project details, for simple projects, or a complete writeup of your brand’s identity and goals (the latter is common in logo design projects).

Once the brief is complete, the design phase of the project can move forward. As your brand is refined, remember that your designer is an expert - that’s why you hired them! While it can be tempting to include all of the newest bells and whistles on your website, or add “fun” graphics to a presentation, it can dilute your brand and scare off potential clients.  Your designer will steer you away from these pitfalls.

 

Step Four: Use your new brand - consistently!

The hardest part for most entrepreneurs is using their brand consistently, once established. Your designer should provide a variety of logo formats and brand guidelines, including fonts, sizes, and other specifications for your documents. It’s up to you to make sure they’re used consistently in every application.

 

Conclusion

By creating a strong brand identity and a long-term relationship with a graphic designer, your business will gain credibility and clients. Plus, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel by recreating your brand assets once your business grows. Hiring a graphic designer is a crucial step in your business’s growth.

 

Resources

 

Jennifer Soucy is a freelance designer, specializing in design for small businesses.