Your brand groundwork guide
(with a bonus – discounted – Brand Clarity Workbook!)
Read time: Ten minutes
TL; DR: Successfully collaborating with a designer isn’t something you can just spontaneously wing. Make sure you’re properly prepared you put down your design deposit. And be sure to scroll down and grab 50% off your Brand Clarity Workbook!
A solid sign whether someone has their sh*t together is just how prepared they are for life’s challenges and adventures.
On a good day, I’m an eight out of ten. I’ll show up to an event on time with Band-Aids in my bag and a snack stashed in a secret pouch just in case. But if I’m co-creating with another business – either as the client or the creative – I commit to being an eleven out of ten.
I’ll have my prework ready to roll before the due date and keep an eye on every deadline and demand to ensure my client or contractor has exactly what they need for our project to be a success.
Because the reality is there’s a real risk of a project flopping if you aren’t properly prepared. And while a good designer will show up for you at a solid 11/10, it’s up to you – as the client – to step up and equip your designer with everything they need to know and have to make your project a success.
“But, Kat, what exactly will my designer need?”
Great question. And whether you’re a a pro at hiring designers or you’re hiring a designer for the first time, it’s important to check in with your creative of choice and get to know their individual process. We’re all different and we all like to work differently, so some designers may have more – or less – requirements than standard.
But, as a base, almost every designer will need you to have these five things figured out before they can get to work.
Before you even THINK about hiring a designer…
Set a deadline and budget.
Okay, you know you want a gorgeous brand, website or marketing collateral. So, now you’re ready to dive in and work with a designer you love, right?
No! Waittttt. Before you reach out to a designer, make sure you have a deadline and a budget ready to go (even if they’re flexible).
Most designers are booked out weeks – if not months – in advance. And if your deadline doesn’t fit in with their current schedule (and you don’t check before you drop down your deposit), you could be in for an unexpected and unplanned wait.
The same goes with budget. Familiarise yourself with your top designers’ price guides and make sure that their services fit into your existing budget to avoid disappointment later.
Already hired someone to help with your brand, website or design goodies? Don’t panic – you can still be fully prepared to make the most out of your collaboration. Just follow your designer’s personal process and focus on the elements below.
Before you hire your designer…
Determine what makes you different.
Want a brand that stands out? Then you’ll need to know what makes your business stand out. Sure, a great designer can make the branding for a poop factory look irresistible, but if you want sustainable success with a loyal audience that adores your brand, experience and service, then you need to dive a little deeper and design with depth.
A good place to start is to explore your:
- Brand values
- Brand philosophy
- Brand personality
- Unique selling points
Don’t have your brand foundations sorted yet? Make sure you grab the 50% discount code at the end of this article, so you can download my Brand Clarity Workbook.
Identify your ideal audience.
Imagine you’re the owner of a gym that exclusively accepts female clients. You tell your brand designer, “Just make my brand look good, please”.
… But you haven’t told your designer that your target market is solely women and that your dream clientele are graceful powerhouses like Kate Middleton. Then, your designer comes back with a clean, polished and refined logo that’s dripping with masculinity. You stare at it in disbelief. “This isn’t going to appeal to my audience!”
See the problem? Knowing your ideal audience is important. And it’s even more important to brief your designer on exactly who those peeps are so they can create designs that attract them.
Know your style and vision.
If you were put on the spot right now and asked to describe your vision for your design project’s style, how would you go? Would you stutter and stumble, or would you be able to articulate exactly the vibe you’re going for?
If you’d struggle, it’s worth your while to spend some time identifying your brand vision and style.
A good place to start collecting visual inspiration is Pinterest. Create a board dedicated to your brand and start searching for imagery, logos, brands and fonts that reflect your brands values, philosophy and personality.
From there you can go on to create a moodboard. I’ve got a whole section devoted to moodboards in my Brand Clarity Workbook (which you can grab at the bottom of this article).
And remember, just because you’ve pinned something, that doesn’t mean your style will be a replica of theirs. I believe it’s important for your brand, website and visuals to feel unique and authentic to your business.
Instead, think of it as a style genre. In the same way that books have genres like fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, young adult and children’s, design styles have their own categories. It’s all about finding yours and then giving it your unique spin!
Prepare your project content.
Most designers will need more than an email and/or a quick call to dig deep and create a strategic visual style for your designs.
Depending on your project, you’ll also need to supply:
- Your existing branding in design-friendly formats and a brand style guide (if you aren’t embarking on a brand design project).
- Final copywriting and content (aka the final words you want on your design).
- Photography (high-resolution)
- A completed intake questionnaire (with the details of your business, brand, audience and project).
“HELP ME, KAT! I DON’T HAVE ANY/ALL OF THIS STUFF SORTED!”
Easy fixed! Just grab my Brand Clarity Workbook and I’ll help you figure EVERYTHING out before you hire any designer (not just me).
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