Katie Gannon is the ‘Go To’ girl for corporate graphic design work (think magazines, catalogues, annual reports, eBooks etc). One day we got chatting about how great it would be to create the ultimate Graphic Design Checklist, which would help people to understand what to provide your designer before they start the job, so that you get the best results. So the fabulous Katie penned this guest blog for us.
So the fabulous Katie penned this guest blog for us … take it away Katie …
Your business. Your audience.
Designing a graphic such as a logo or flyer for your company is more than just creating a pretty picture. It is developing a brand, and communicating what your business is all about.
Be sure to brief your designer on what your brand is and what industry you belong to. Always remember that your interpretation may be completely different from theirs, so it is essential that you have the nature of your business very clear before you get started.
Let your designer know of the demographic you are trying to attract. There are very clear colours that will create a powerful impact for different audiences. For example, you don’t want to create anything that is too pink, or feminine in you own a day spa and half of your customers are going to be men. Be sure to let your graphic designer know whom you are trying to attract.
If you have designs or old logos that you have used in the past, show your designer these, and communicate to them if the old designs were effective and the reasons why or why not.
This is a great place to start if you are planning to re-brand.
You will find loads of inspiration for your new design all around you. Look at signs on the street, other businesses brochures and cards, and work out what you do and don’t like about them.
It’s a great idea to do a search in Google images to get an idea of other logos in your field of work, and the colours, fonts, and images that are associated with prior learned assumptions for those industries.
For example, type “gardening logo” into Google Images. You will find that most businesses in the gardening industry use shades of green, images of leaves & trees, plus very simple fonts.
Take inspiration from these ideas by copying some of these images into a folder to email your graphic designer.
Show your designer other logos that you like the look of. Show them fonts and colours that please you. Try not to collect a folder of ideas that are completely different from each other. This will only confuse both you and the designer and you may be charged for extra time the designer has to put in to interpret all of your conflicting thoughts.
Draw inspiration, but be sure not to plagiarise anything directly as this will taint your reputation if discovered. You want to create your very own unique identity and don’t want the embarrassment of being a copy cat if found out.
If you fancy yourself a bit of an ideas person, sketch your ideas onto paper and show your designer. Do you like the idea of having a tree with your company name underneath? Perhaps flowers growing out of the letters in your name?
Do a rough sketch and show your designer. Don’t be shy that you are not Picasso re-born, your designer will appreciate the initial thoughts and will do their best to interpret them for you.
Do some research on different fonts, first deciding on what you think is appropriate.
Do you need something scripted and flowing for a soft feminine look? Is it a standard font you need in UPPERCASE. Fonts come in all shapes and sizes that resonate differently with strength (slab type big fonts=big and powerful; scripts or serifs=class and style; type that is slanted-may represent forward thinking)
Believe it or not, the fonts you use say a lot about your business.
Try not to use fonts that are too fashionable as they will date quickly.
Keep it simple and legible.
You may want to ask your designer to show you a few different fonts to see what works best.
A good source of font finding is google fonts.
You may also choose to purchase a more artistic font that no one else is using. You can do so at sites like fonts.com and playtype.com
Consider a minimal approach
Simple = strong.
The best branding is often the most simple. Avoid using complex illustrations or too much wording for graphic jobs. This only confuses (and bores!) the target audience.
Also remember that complex graphics are not seen when reduced to sizes suitable for social media such as twitter and Instagram icons.
Consider how your graphics will look on different mediums
When you are involved in creating a new logo design, consider where it will be seen and how it will be used. For example, will you need to embroid it onto hats and t- shirts? If this is the case, make sure it is simple and only a few colours.
Will you need to create a stamp to ink onto paper bags? Once again, be sure your logo or design lends itself to this.
Do not use photo’s if you are planning to use your graphics in this way.
Logo designs specifically need to work in black and white as well as colour.
When you are ready to have a brochure or flyer designed, also be ready to supply your designer with all of the copy to be included in the finished product.
Your designers’ job is to layout your information into the design, NOT to write it.
Try and be to the point with what you are trying to say, and definitely do not carry on about how good you or your company is or try clever tactics.
When providing your copy (wording) to your designer consider these 3 points:
1. What is it? – What is your business? Be direct to avoid confusion eg. Law firm
2. What is it about? – What good or services are you offering? Eg. Legal representation for criminal cases.
3. What does the customer get? – Try and sum this up straight away. Eg. “We will help you to win your case”
Imagine your brochure, flyer, etc. as a stage. Put your customer in the spotlight – not yourself.
Be direct and simple. The worst mistake is a design that is too cluttered with wording. In this busy day and age, no one has time to read it.
Are you wanting a brochure designed that included photos? Have your photos ready for your designer in high resolution. Photos copied off the internet are not good enough quality (or the correct colour profile) to print, so you will need to provide the original images at at least 300 dpi. Usually a picture sized around 2 MB will have the quality that your designer needs. Remember, the larger the print medium the higher the picture quality needs to be. A small picture file will not be suitable to print onto a 3 metre sign for a shopfront.
If you don’t have any images, there are sites such as shutterstock.com or istock.com where you can purchase the rights to use other people’s photos.
Remember, most photographs are copyright by the photographer, so never use an image that you do not have permission to use. You may end up needing legal advice if the photographer is not credited properly.
If your photo files are too big to email, use file transfer sites such as wetransfer.com to send your images to your designer. Never try to send more than 5MB worth of attachments in an email.
Don’t expect the world
When you brief your designer, remember that they are starting from scratch. Don’t tell them that you want your logo to be totally epic and powerful just like the apple logo. You must remember that you have seen the apple logo several thousand times over decades of marketing, so nothing will be as powerful to you as something like this. Be clear about what you want, but don’t expect the world. It is up to you to take the graphics you’ve had designed and use them for marketing.
Don’t change your mind too many times
Many Graphic Designers will allow 3 or so changes (check their policy when getting your quote). Try not to change your mind about your ideas too many times during the design process. Try to be clear about what you want right from get go. This will eliminate a lot of frustration for you and the designer.
IN CONCLUSION… Provide a brief to your designer including:
1. WHAT? A clear understanding of what your business is and what industry you belong to
2. PREVIOUS DESIGNS – Any previous designs you’ve had done
3. INSPIRATION – Graphic inspiration you have found on the net, or hard copies of printed media which you like
4. SKETCHES – Any sketches you have done to illustrate your ideas
5. FONTS – Fonts which you like or have purchased
6. CONTENT – What name do you want in your logo? What wording do you need in your brochure? Provide it in a word document.
7. PHOTOS – do you have high-resolution images that you would like used in your design?
7. FINISHED PRODUCT – What is your intention with the finished product? Where will your logo or design be used? Social media? Printed advertising? Embroidered uniforms?
FINALLY – get a quote and factor it into your budget
When you have provided your brief, ask your designer for a quote. This will give you a rough estimate of how much you will end up spending, and help you to budget accordingly. Be prepared to pay your invoice when the designer requires. Never undertake contracting work that you can’t afford. Be aware that some designers require a deposit before beginning work.
Ask the designer what their hourly rate is if you require additional changes on completion or work to be done in the future.
Be aware that most quotes DO NOT include printing costs.
Do your research, get your inspiration, and brief your designer as best you can. If you still feel lost, ask your designer for their thoughts and ideas. They may just have something up their sleeve that you have never considered. After all, it is their job!