So you've taken the leap, and you're starting a new business. Or perhaps you have a business already, but you didn't have enough money to brand yourself properly in the beginning and are now ready to take that step. You recognize the importance of proper branding. But where do you start?
Finding a graphic designer can be an overwhelming task all on its own. There's certainly not a shortage of graphic designers out there! While it's not rocket science, there are several avenues of exploration that we recommend to narrow your search and achieve good results.
- Talk with your city's chamber of commerce or a local small business organization. This may help you find someone local, if that's important to you. Another option would be to search social media for your city and "graphic design."
- Ask around. These days, it's likely that you know not just one, but a handful of entrepreneurs. If you're drawn to any of their branding efforts, get a recommendation.
- Join entrepreneur groups on Facebook. This has been tremendously helpful for me for many reasons, but our groups are generally filled with companies that offer graphic design and/or branding services.
Places we don't recommend:
- Fiverr or anything like Fiverr that offers dirt cheap graphic design
This is incredibly harmful to the industry as a whole - would you like it if your industry was saturated with cheap workers from other countries who did subpar work but created an illusion that you and others in your field are asking too much for their products? But most importantly, branding can make or break a new business. It is just too important to your future success to contract out at bargain basement rates of $5 to $25 per hour. In general, you get what you pay for. If someone is charging $15 for a custom logo, the person likely has no education in that field, and thus, can't charge rates customary for trained graphic designers.
There's a definite time and place for a cheap logo (think in the beginning when you don't have the money and would rather not take out a loan), but if you're reading this, you've already decided to take the next step and up your branding game.
Considerations when hiring graphic designers:
- Are they knowledgable about branding itself, or are they good graphic designers on a technical level? There's a difference. When looking for someone to design a flyer or brochure for your company, being a great technical graphic designer is important. When you're looking for someone to brand your business, you need more than a graphic designer. You need someone who understands the ins and outs of brand design, what works and doesn't, and why.
- When you view the designer's portfolio, do you find yourself drawn to many of his or her previous designs? Graphic designers have their own individual styles. While I do what my clients ask of me, I get most excited about and throw myself into projects that jive with my style. This enthusiasm for the task undoubtedly translates into a better end result. I recommend trying to find a graphic designer that jives with your own style. It will be easier for you to give him or her the design control.
- Does he or she have a design process? As more people purchased DSLR cameras, more people thought they were photographers. There are websites dedicated to the hilarity of this phenomenon! The same can be said for graphic design. While having a graphic design degree or a degree in marketing or public relations isn't required to be a good graphic designer or a good branding expert, you can often weed out the professionals from those who know very little about the field just by examining their processes.
Those who have experience and take themselves seriously have a well-considered process. They've generally put this into practice over time, and it usually has an established timeline. Some of my favorite examples of this are Elle & Co and With Grace & Gold. While some graphic designers out there will tell you that a massive, months-long process is required, I think that's a bit excessive and offers more than what most people need. If you're planning on launching a massive project with lofty, multi-million dollar goals, I absolutely think you need to invest several thousands of dollars into your logo alone, and you should hire an agency that has experience branding large companies. They will spend months in preparation for developing your new brand, but that's excessive for most small business owners who don't have multi-million dollar goals.
- Do you mesh? This might sound silly, but I really do believe that finding someone you mesh with is important! I've hired people to do work for me and my company and have been really disappointed when our personalities clashed and the person I hired made no attempt to get to know me or to connect with me after the sale. It's a different world than it was even ten years ago. While you could argue that it's tougher than ever to run a business with social media adding yet another element of your business to manage, I believe it makes running a business much more fun, too! It's been such a blast for me to connect with the people I've spent weeks or months working with. I feel invested in them, and I feel a vested interest in staying in touch. When hiring people, I now gravitate toward businesses that appear to do the same, rather than those that only seem to care about taking my money and never speaking to me again.
Once you've settled on a graphic designer who speaks your language and shares your style, the fun begins! Stay tuned for the next post in our Brand Polish series, "The Beginning Stages of Branding," coming later this week!