How to Find the Right Brand Designer

How to Find the Right Brand Designer - 6 steps to finding the best fit for your brand

So you're thinking about investing in a new logo and brand identity, huh? Congratulations!! This is such an exciting time and a huge step for your brand! So what's next? Well, whether you're starting from scratch with a new business or you're ready to take your existing business to the next level, it's essential to find the right designer for the job.

Granted, there are countless designers out there with all kinds of styles and stories, so how in the world are you supposed to find the right fit for your business and vision? Well, lucky for you I'm here with 6 steps that will guide you down the path to finding the best designer for your brand. Let's dig in!

1. Research

Just like anything else that's outside your realm of expertise, it's best to start your designer search with research. Figure out if you know anyone who's already gone down this path and check in where designers hang out online.

  • Referrals - Ask friends and other business owners you know who they've worked with. How were their experiences? Do they have recommendations for you? Referrals are a great way to test the water before even dipping your toe in.
  • Dribbble  - Dribbble is a site that acts as show-and-tell for designers from all over, where they share peeks at their works in progress and latest projects. You can browse by location, skills, availability, and more depending on what criteria is important to you.
  • Pinterest  - You may have already started a brand inspiration board for your new identity with logos, typography, color palettes, and other visuals that speak to your vision. Why not also contact designers you find there whose work really resonates with you?
  • Instagram  - Since Instagram by nature is so visual, it's only natural for designers to showcase their work and eye for details through this medium. Many designers will use their feed as a curated mini portfolio. While this won't have the same depth as a full portfolio, it certainly gets your attention and if nothing else, acts as one more way to validate whether or not they're the real deal.
  • Behance  -  You can use this site to discover the latest work from online portfolios by creative professionals. Some designers use this site in place of having their own standalone portfolio site, to supplement their portfolio for added reach, or to create a curated portfolio that focuses on one of their specialties.
  • Google search - When in doubt, a good old google search is always worth a try. This will churn out some high-ranking designers, at least when it comes to SEO. This can be the result of the quality and consistency of their work and/or savvy use of keywords and optimization practices. The latter isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'd recommend examining their portfolio and the rest of their online presence to see how they measure up when it comes to the work.

2. Narrow Down

Once you've collected a pool of design contenders, it's time to dig deeper and narrow this down. While you may have 10-20 prospects at this point, some extra consideration can help you create a funnel that will save you the time and frustration of contacting each one.

The Work

A designer's work and portfolio is most likely what will draw you to her in the first place, since that's a solid indicator of whether or not she can deliver what you're after. Don't make the mistake of favoring work just because you personally like it though. Be sure to select designers because their work is the right fit for your brand and will resonate with your target audience.

Also take care not to choose a designer based on what's trending right now. Seek out the ones who craft identities that are timeless and easy to implement. After all, shiny new branding is no good to you if you can't use it.

The Person

Crafting a new logo and brand identity is a big investment money, but also time. You're going to be chatting a lot with your chosen designer, so make sure she's someone you actually like!

Save up for the right designer, and treat this as the exciting investment it will be.

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Is she friendly? How does her experience resonate? What are the values and tone that drive her brand? Is she relatable? Can you find testimonials that demonstrate what it's like to work with her? Is she a good communicator?

This last one is essential, since the essence of brand design is translating your vision into visuals. Therefore, it's absolutely crucial that your chosen designer understands your business and vision, and that she's able to communicate the rationale behind the design solutions she creates.

The Circumstances

Then there's the circumstances to consider. Are you intent on working with someone local? How much of a budget are you willing to allocate to this process? Is your timeline flexible based on what the designer recommends? Or do you have a launch in two weeks and need someone right now who can really hustle? These factors all need to be considered.

3. Get in Touch

Now that you've narrowed down your search to the final contenders, it's time to reach out. Fill out their contact form or shoot them a nice email. You don't need to share every minute detail in this first exchange, but be sure to give them the relevant details they'll need to learn more about you. Here are some points I'd recommend hitting in that first email.

  1. Your name
  2. Contact information
  3. How you found him/her
  4. Business name
  5. What your business does
  6. Why it matters
  7. Business website (if you have one)
  8. Target audience (those dream customers)
  9. Budget range (if you have one in mind)
  10. Why you want to invest in new branding for your business

Be conscious of how the exchange progresses from here. Is the designer friendly and excited to learn more about your brand? How are those communication skills holding up? The right designer will want to know just as much about you and your brand as you want to know about her.

4. Get the Specifics

As you dig deeper with those final few prospects, get as much information as you can about how each designer works. These areas will be of particular interest.

  • Pricing - How do they charge for their work?  How are payments split up? Is a deposit required?
  • Process - What's required to get started? What are the steps in their process? How many brand concepts can you expect to see in the design phase? How many rounds of revisions are included?
  • Communication - How will you meet and communicate with this person throughout the process? In person? Video chat? Phone? Through some project management tool? Email? Maybe a combination of all of the above?
  • Deliverables - What do you get at the end of the project? Final logo files for print and web use are standard, but what about style guidelines? Color palette and typography recommendations? Social media banners and avatar? A few pieces of brand collateral to kick off this exciting next chapter?
  • Timeline - How long does the process typically take? Is the timeline structured and scheduled so you know what to expect? Or is it more of a “when I get to it” kind of approach? When can you expect each phase to happen? When/how is feedback expected?

5. Prioritize & Understand the Investment

Figure out what your priority is with this project. Is it quality, cost, or timeline? If quality is #1, be ready for the investment that requires. If it's a short timeline, be prepared to sacrifice on quality and/or cost.

All of the factors above will play a part. You may love one designer's work, but find out he's less than amiable and a lackluster communicator. On the other hand you may adore another designer, but she's out of your budget range or she can't make your timeline work.

Now let me share a some advice here that will hopefully save you time, frustration, and heartache.

  • Don't ignore red flags. If something doesn't feel right about the person or the circumstances, move along and consider other options. There are plenty of designers out there, and the right one for your brand is waiting.
  • Don't rush it. This is the face and foundation of your brand we're talking about here. Timelines can be changed, but branding that's slapped together quickly won't have the same quality or lasting appeal.
  • Invest. When all's said and done, there will be one or two designers that really resonate with you on all fronts. Save up for the right designer, and treat this as the exciting investment it will be. The right designer will make the process seamless, calm your fears, and deliver above and beyond your expectations. That's an investment you won't regret.

6. Pull the Trigger

Hiring a designer to visually define (or redefine) your brand is a huge step, and yes it can be an incredibly intimidating one. It's one of those investments that involves a leap of faith, but I can't tell you how worth it this will be. Every one of my clients has come back to me later and expressed how much their branding has impacted their business. It sets them apart, attracts their dream customers, builds trust, and reinforces their own confidence by leaps and bounds.

Absolutely take the time you need to make the right decision, and to save up if you have to. But don't stall on this forever. Don't waffle back and forth about whether or not it will be worth it when that just wastes precious time—time that you could be using to transform the face of your business and begin making the kinds of first impressions you know your brand deserves.

Do the necessary prep work, take a deep breath, and dive in. “Worth it” doesn't even begin to describe what lies ahead. Good luck!

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