As Graphic Designers, it is imperative that we fully understand any project set before us. Fully understand. As designers, we should have a 360º view of the project: the end-goal, the audience, the approval team, timelines, and budgets in order to appropriately and accurately create a piece. A piece which not only meets the expectations of the client but also drives action from the intended audience. We must NOT—cannot, will not—design in a vacuum.
Sure, every once in a while you have a client who says that they love yellow, hate purple, feel that a smiling turtle might make the campaign work best. And you might explore that road in order to demonstrate to the client that they were heard. However, this might not be the best course of action and, more importantly, might have the exact opposite effect on the target audience. As a good designer—in this instance—it is up to you to help direct the client to a more effective outcome. As a designer, you are being hired to design a tool which allows the client and their customer to connect. If by simply pleasing the client and not allowing them to achieve their end-result you have demonstrated that you cannot connect the dots.
Graphic Design is like solving a puzzle. You are equipped with the elements: imagery, text, direction, final format and you need to make it all work. All of it must communicate, inspire, motivate, persuade. Pretty design might be pretty but it doesn’t always communicate. It might allow someone to take notice but the message needs to be clearly communicated and it must encourage action to be taken.
You cannot design in a vacuum.
For folks hiring a Graphic Designer—or a team of them—let them in. Show them around. Explain to them the end-goal FIRST. This is crucial since it sets the groundwork for the expectation. An experienced designer, such as myself, can offer you ideas for marketing tools that you may not know exist or hadn’t thought to implement. You might discover that this designer can offer you more than simply a printed or virtual piece. Your new designer might offer you an outdoor solution or a new marketing angle or even suggest a slogan. Since they are an extension of your team, they might notice a consistent focus on an internal business ideal which is not being effectively conveyed to the world. They might encourage you to find ways to incorporate it or clean it up.
The advantage of working with a seasoned designer is this: Designers are an extension of your internal team who can offer an outside perspective…and implement it. They might even buy you lunch while you discuss the project at hand. And free lunches do not suck.