A first impression may be a potential customer’s last impression if your marketing materials are sub-par. Make sure that your business cards, brochures, and website look professional by hiring someone who knows what they’re doing (instead of, say, trying to do everything yourself).
Here are six tips for choosing a graphic designer.
- Ask to see work samples. When reviewing the designer’s portfolio of work, note of the degree of harmony in his or her work. Is the artwork jarring? Do photographs appear surreal as a result of sloppy digital-editing techniques? Do all the graphic elements mesh together in a pleasing way? Select a designer who pays attention to detail and demonstrates stylistic and visual integrity.
- Request a list of professional affiliations. Choose a designer who follows the rules. Some organizations, such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, require members adhere to certain ethical standards. Infringing on someone’s trademark or copyright by “borrowing” an image or typeface, for example, could result in not only embarrassment, but also a costly lawsuit.
- Take a bit of a risk. Go with someone whose work seems a little too edgy for your comfort zone. Professional designers often nudge clients to consider forward-looking designs that have greater longevity and stay “fresh” longer than what seems more familiar to you. For example, consider AT&T’s iconic logo. If you look at the Fortune 500 company’s branding history, you’ll see how its older image became dated as new designs came into fashion. You might also consider crowdsourcing the task to source “out there” designs.
- Look for versatility. The graphic designer you choose should know how to develop a concept across varied media and platforms. Optimally formatted print advertising, video, and webpages should be a part of the candidate’s portfolio. For example, a designer should be adept at using the latest web-coding protocols and able to test a webpage in multiple browsers to make sure content displays properly.
- Read the graphic designer’s contract. Legal rights to artwork vary. Most designers retain the ownership rights to the artwork they produce and grant limited reproduction rights to clients. If they don’t offer a contract, you’ll want to create one. Once the design for a new brochure or website is finished, save all of the related files or elements for future use. Maintaining an archival record is particularly important for graphics that are part of a brand’s identity, as well as for designs that may be trademarked.