Process for Hiring a Reputable Brand Designer

 
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the internet and social media is a double edge sword, it gives us so much opportunity but also leads to a lot of self proclaimed “professionals.” so how do you make sure you are hiring someone reputable? here are a few things to expect from the process so you can feel reassured that you are hiring someone who knows what they’re doing.

1. discovery call- some designers may just send through their pricing right away to every inquiry but I would say most will ask to schedule an initial call to talk to you about your business, your needs and how they can best come in to help out. i used to offer standard packages with set prices but as i became more experienced, it became so clear to me that this isn’t the best way to go about it. your business is unique and so are your needs- you deserve to have a custom package built to address those needs directly. the discovery call will allow both parties to ask questions, see if they are a right fit, and the designer will collect the info needed to put together a project proposal that addresses your business goals.

2. proposal- after the discovery call, you will be receiving your project proposal within a few days. the proposal will outline everything from the expected timeline, exactly what your designer is recommending to be included in your package and the cost estimate. the cost is usually a reflection of the amount of hours the designer thinks it will take to complete your project but it will be presented as a fixed quote. unless you add on something later or you approve more hours, you won’t have to pay more than the estimated cost.

3. onboarding- once you take a day or two to review the proposal and make a decision, its time to let your designer know that you are moving forward with them! at this point, they will start the onboarding process. this looks different for every designer but for me, i use a client management system called dubsado. there, you will be able to sign contracts, make payments, fill out your client homework and see your project’s progress.

4. client homework- after the onboarding process, you should expect to receive a little bit of homework. you will be asked to fill out a brand questionnaire that goes over things like your business goals and dreams, your growth plan, target market, competition, visual aesthetics and more. it is important that you fill this out the best you can and give your designer as much info as possible.

5. brand strategy- this may be the most important step! the designer will ask to set up a strategy meeting where they will present you a pdf with their proposed design plan moving forward. this pdf will include details like a competitive landscape, target market (and how to reach them), brand messaging/language, brand key words, inspiration, and more. there will be time for open discussion and feedback from you. afterwards, they will revise anything that needs it and send it back to you. once approved, this pdf will serve as the foundation of which the rest of the visual brand is built.

6. design phase- this phase looks different for everyone but you can expect collaboration with your designer, rounds of feedback and design work that is not only beautiful but strategically designed with your business goals, competition, and target market in mind. when asked, the designer should have solid reasons for making the design decisions that they did and those reasons will be rooted in what was discovered during the strategy phase. standard deliverables include a main logo, alternative logo, brand marks, social media logo, color palette, typography selection (print and web), custom patterns, branded design elements, and collateral items.

7. build out- once the major design elements have been approved, its time to design out the rest of your branded collateral and website. this is when you will really start to see everything come to life!

8. launch- for the big launch, your designer will send through your final files in all the formats needed. if you ask, they should give you a designed post to post to your social media accounts too so you can announce to your followers about the rebrand!

after seeing what a standard design process looks like, there are a couple of things i want to point out that really set the experienced designers apart from the novice. the first is the presence of the client homework and brand strategy. these steps are vital for a successful design project and should take the designer at least a week to flush out. the brand strategy phase should be meaningful as it is the foundation for the rest of the design decisions. experienced designers will create a strategy presentation for you and review it with you on a call or in person meeting then use the discoveries to build out the visual parts of your brand. the second thing to look for is organization. you should receive a detailed timeline that your designer sticks to/revises as necessary and each step for staying on track should be clearly defined for both parties. there is a lot that goes into the design process so organization is SO important. lastly, this goes without saying, but you are hiring your designer to create something that is 100% unique to you. there is a fine line between being inspired by something and just copying a design off of pinterest. a legit designer won’t even be tempted to do this because they respect others and take pride in their own abilities to create something original.

whether you decide to inquire with white and salt or go in a different direction, i just want to give you a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS. the fact that you are looking to hire a professional designer means that business is thriving for you and you are ready to take it to the next level. that is so freaking exciting and i applaud you! i wish you the best of luck as you enter this process and would love to hear from you if you think we are a good fit!

 
Jenna Johnson