How to Pick a Designer to Work With

I talk to a lot of different types of business owners who are looking to take their business to the “next level.”

But, what does “next level” really mean? It’s subjective and the solutions are different from one client to the next.

 

So, with respect to brand design and development, where and what should you spend your money on? And, how do you find out who the best person or company is to help you get there?

 

I get these questions all the time and the options are seriously endless. Although my company is not the right decision for everyone (far from it), I have developed a sense for what people need, and at what time they need it.

 

Take for instance a recent discussion I had with a prospective client. This individual was ready to build out a brand spanking new business and jump into the excitement of entrepreneurship! However, the individual had little experience in the exact field of business.  This individual had an idea of who to serve yet was not sure about the specific offering. Yes, a lot of uncertainty!

 

Oh, but this is where the excitement begins — bringing clarity and focus to key business decisions which will guide brand design and development!

 

That said, I also understand what an investment this undertaking can be for a prospective client, so when I hear uncertainty (especially a lot of it), I always let them know all of their options.  

 

You see, this specific person had spoken to several marketers and all had been eager to jump into a branding project without suggesting options.

 

For example, there is nothing wrong with launching your business on your own, then circling back when you have spent some time “in your business” and gained new insights (e.g., a bit of experience to gain some initial clarity of your offering or audience).

 

The important point to make here is all about truly understanding the client’s circumstance and meeting them where they are. In this instance, I suggested they take some time out in the market to gain some real in-the-field experience first. Due to timing, resources or circumstances, employing my company may not be in their best interest now. And that’s ok. Sure, I might lose a client in that moment, but I believe a win-win situation is where we all win in the long run.

 

Having this recent experience in mind, I wanted to offer some considerations to help guide you.

BUT FIRST, WHERE ARE YOU?

A. You are curious about starting a new business venture, but not really sure about a lot of things regarding it? Your budget is small but you’re eager to dive in.

B. You have a startup business idea and you have a pretty good idea of your vision, who to serve and what to offer? When you take the leap, you are ready to do it up right. Watch out world, here I come!

C. You have you been running your business for a while, yet you still feel a bit uncomfortable about bigger expenses, so you take it a bit more slowly and chip away at your growth.

D. You have been in business for a while and have outgrown your setup. Perhaps your audience or direction has changed or become much clearer and it’s time to do something about it.

THIS IS WHAT I WOULD SUGGEST:

IF YOU ARE TYPE A

There are so many great online tools or classes that can help you set up a business, logo and website.  For example, you can get a logo at a fairly low cost from places like Fiver or 99Design.  This could be a great place to start, and honestly might be the perfect option for you at this time.  

Budget: > $1,500

IF YOU ARE TYPE B

You are ready to have it done for you and because you are a startup it could be helpful to have somebody give you extra guidance as there are typically a lot of unknowns, even those things you don’t know to ask about just yet.  With that in mind, it’s important you get the right guidance and understand what their capabilities are. Look for a company that puts emphasis on creating clarity and focus prior to executing design.

Budget: $5,000-$10,000

IF YOU ARE TYPE C

It’s okay to build your business slowly, as long as you are still taking action and making moves. In this situation I would consider getting a consultant to give you guidance on what you are building/creating.  Perhaps you might consider working with a freelancer or small design company that offers al a carte services. Or, you might benefit from a Brand Review that provides insight on a specific area of your business, such as messaging, design, SEO, content marketing, etc.

Budget: > $3,000

IF YOU ARE TYPE D

It is time to make sure you find an agency or designer that jives with you. Their design style and values should match yours. They have experience working with businesses in the same field as yours, or who share a similar avatar. They use design for problem solving. They can bounce around ideas with you and challenge your thoughts with their expertise.

It’s a critical time and even if the budget is there, it’s essential that it’s being utilized properly, as there are a plethora of ways you can spend your money, including strategy, design, development, SEO, lead generation, marketing, social media, PR, etc. It’s important you have somebody on your side who has your best interests in mind and who really can guide you on a lot of decisions.

Budget: > $15,000

 

BUT WHERE YOU ARE AND WHAT BUDGET YOU HAVE IS NOT EVERYTHING.

THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DESIGNER/AGENCY IS ESSENTIAL TOO.

here are some things to consider:

  1. How do you like to work? Is it important to collaborate and work closely with your designer or would you prefer handing the reigns over completely, so you can focus on what you do best?

 

  1. What is the size of your project? Is your project large with many requirements and complexities and you’d prefer a bigger team to tackle all components or is it a smaller, more straight-forward project requiring less resources?

 

  1. What values are important to you? Are there certain viewpoints or sensitivities around topics or causes that you’d like your design agency to support and/or have experience with? Perhaps you’d like an agency that gives back to their community, has experience with a variety of cultures, is LGTBQ friendly, etc?

 

  1. Are they forthcoming with information? Do they take the time to understand your unique situation or needs? Are your questions being thoroughly answered? Do they ask smart questions to gain greater insight? Is it clear how they think, how the project would be executed and what’s included in your project? Just because they can create a logo or build a website does not mean they are able to assist you at the level you need.  Make sure to get on a discovery call to find that out before you dive in.

 

  1. Would they be fun to work with? You will most likely spend quite a bit of time with your designer or agency, so make sure it’s a pleasant ride!

 

 

I hope this information helps you. Or forward it to somebody who could benefit from this kind of guidance right now. That would be lovely!

 

If you have any questions, I’m happy to help!

Extreme Makeover: Brand + Site Edition (Before & After)

Is it really worth spending ...

the money on picking colors, creating visuals, crafting your messaging and designing the best layout for all this content – all to simply prettify your website?

Hey, it just “looks,” right? Does any of that really matter that much?

An overwhelming: YES

I’m sure you already know first impressions do matter.  There have been plenty of studies showing how it take seconds and even milliseconds to form a judgment. Yes, it might sound harsh, but we all do it.  For example, you have already made a judgement about me, just now, by reading these first few lines.

And the same goes for your brand and website.

As soon as a potential client lands on your website, they have an impression about you! It can mean a sale or a not a sale, a call or not a call, a sign up or not a sign up…you get the idea.

So we can agree that impressions are made by what we see and read (or hear). And, maybe you’ve asked yourself whether words or visuals matter more. What grabs someone’s attention first? 

Again, an overwhelming: YES 😉

Both make up that fantastic content that is needed to grab their attention…to create an experience that will keep them on your site.

But, it’s not enough to get that potential client in the door. As soon as a user lands on your site, you need to make sure you take them where they need to go and give them the information they need, and as you also know in today’s world, you need to do it pretty stinking fast before you lose their attention.

No time to waste

This is where knowing your audience comes in and why I always talk about finding your niche. It’s so important to know specifically who you are serving, which problems they have, what outcome they are looking for and how to solve that for them – and very quickly and efficiently getting that across with the right look, feel and messaging.  And, I can almost bet you that you will also have a conversion, because you’ve given them good reason (a great experience) to buy what you sell. Well, isn’t it really all about the experience, at any point of contact?

So, today I like to follow the tip I give my clients; “show don’t tell”. In other words, I thought I would show you how we solved a client’s problem of figuring out who they want to work with and how they want to communicate with them, and of course, presenting all of this in a manner that levels up their actual work quality.  The outcome is not only more clients but also a stronger team because they are collectively working towards a clear cohesive vision.

Without further ado...

We recently worked with the Collier team, a financial advisor firm from Denver, Colorado.
When we started out, they had a general idea about who they were serving, although the reason why was also sort of vague. And, it wasn’t really fueling them or their business efforts. They understood how important messaging is but they also knew how difficult it can be to express themselves and get the right words down on a piece of paper, so to speak. 
This is where we were able to really help out!
This team is seriously a fun group and this, among other things, needed to come across on their site. You see, having the idea that you need to show up a certain way in order to get business and make people like you is no longer valid. Being you instead of being what you think your audience wants to see, read or experience is what’s right in today’s world of society desiring authenticity and truth.

So, after going through strategy sessions and pivoting a couple of times, we created an experience that is precisely what it would be like to engage and work with Collier in real life.  It’s now very clear for the team members and, well, likely for you too as a visitor to their site. 

Just have a look at Collier’s new brand and site HERE!

 
Do your brand + message speak for you?