Should I tell my graphic designer if I don't like the design?

When you and your designer aren't on the same page.

Tell your designer if you don't like the design, but come prepared. Here's how:

  • Refer back to the design brief. First and foremost, make sure you and your designer have created an accurate depiction of your brand. For example, maybe the brief classifies your brand as "an epic party" and your designer used Garamond for the font. Mentioning the discrepancy is a good place to start.
  • Get specific. "I don't like it," isn't going to cut it. What exactly do you not like about the design? Here are some specifics to consider:
    • Font 
    • Color 
    • Feeling ("This logo makes me feel like I'm in Iceland when I want to feel like I'm in Mexico.")
    • Hierarchy ("I want my business name to stand out the most, and right now the illustration does.")
    • Coincidental images ("I know it's a plant, but all I can see is Santa Claus.")
  • Explain why. Does the font lean classic when you want to try edgy? Why do you feel like you're in Iceland? Where exactly do you see Santa Claus? Don't worry about being wrong here, just get it all out on the table.
  • Be prepared to have a conversation. Sometimes your designer misses something, or takes one thing into consideration more than the other. Oftentimes, though, designers have good reason for choosing specific creative solutions. Make space to let your designer walk you through the decision making process. For example, maybe he or she chose Garamond because, although your business is "an epic party," it's an epic party for weddings where you want to establish class and trust.

Most importantly, just say something. I once had a client who, at the end of the process, said "Oh this is much better! The first version looked like Snoopy!" If she would've said that right away, we could've cut 2 revisions out of the pool. Holding back will only cost you more time, money or both.

Your designer is here to be your creative problem solver. Give thoughtful feedback, and let your designer solve it for you. 

Communicating visually isn't just about the graphics

Graduating from the University of St. Thomas, I was lucky to get my degree though the Communications and Journalism department. Although that meant traveling to St. Kate's for graphic design courses, I also got the opportunity to practice and refine journalistic writing.

You can take a company's pre-written content and integrate words with design beautifully. Perception of brand quality is improved with a design your audience finds captivating. What really makes a piece marketable, however, is engaging design combined with engaging content.

So that, my readers, is my very short plea for quality content. I'd love to help, but if a professional graphic designer or writer isn't feasible at the moment, take my advice:

  1. Check for parallel structure and spelling errors. Making these mishaps is arguably the easiest way content becomes distracting instead of informative. Don't depend solely on spell check; have a friend or co-worker read and edit your work.
  2. Create consistency. For example, when writing brochures I commonly write in the order of subhead, main idea and details. This helps the reader scan for relative information quickly.
  3. Edit for conciseness. Put all your content on the table then cut out, reword and rework until you have concise content. Write like you're a Twitter pro.

With a thoughtful script and professional design, your company will be primed for successful marketing endeavors.

Fail, fail again

"Remind me again why I care about this person's blog? Boring. What are all these creatives, narcissists?"

Not me. In fact, lets start with a few failures to keep the humble levels high:

  • Once I designed a gold foil logo without contacting the print press first. Some of the logo was under the minimum point requirements and we couldn't gold foil print. New mantra: Always contact printer prior to designing.
  • At my old job, I didn't take the initiative to create a timeline for a project. I thought I was running smoothly, my boss thought I was running behind. It didn't go down well. New mantra: Always establish a mutual timeline.
  • In a couple early pro-bono projects, I didn't meet with the client to create a design brief. I spent a lot of time making deliverables the client didn't want. New mantra: Create for the client, not for yourself. 
  • Once I didn't ask a filetype by name, and subsequently agreed to contacting numerous entities for the correct filetype. Double whammy. New mantras: communicate clear client expectations and define the scope of the project.

With every failure comes opportunity and a new set of lessons and considerations to grow upon. You can either place blame in others and be a passive maker-of-mistakes, or you can recognize your role, face it with positivity and learn from it.