What should I do to prepare myself to work with a designer?
"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success"
- Alexander Graham Bell
If you're just hopping into the Design Transparency Series, check out the intro post here! My goal with this blog post series is to equip, empower and add a little more transparency to the mystery of working with a designer by answering popular questions that you have about the design process and hiring and working with a designer.
"What should I do to prepare myself to work with a designer?" When I received this question, I was pleasantly surprised. With many services, we think about what you can do for me, but this person was asking about what they could do to ensure they received an even better product.
None of us go into a partnership thinking that you just have to show up and the other person will do all the work. We go in with a little planning and preparation, so that you can bring your expertise, ideas and skills to the table. Working with a designer is no different, and it's highly encouraged for a smooth and enjoyable experience.
On the other hand, a lot of clients come into the process, overwhelmed, thinking that they need to know everything, even what they want their logo to look, feel, and even smell like! lol, and that isn't the case either. There is a balance, just like everything.
Each designer has their own process and way of getting the answers they need to begin the ground work for aesthetics. In my process, it's mostly in the first week we work together. It's in my brand questionnaire, consultation, and creating a moodboard with inspiration. These are my ways of making sure you know your business, I know your business and we are on the same page before moving forward into design.
If you don't know the basics of your business, it's going to be really hard for any designer to create something that you will love, and that will help kickstart, fuel, and grow your business. So below are three of the things that I make sure every potential client knows before we start our work together. If this is not the case, it's always their homework before signing on the dotted line.
1. Know Your business -
I feel like this should be a given, but it's important to know what you do, how you do it, and why it matters. We all love feel-good origin stories. When we meet a couple, the first question is almost always "how did you guys meet?". Your customers will be asking you the same thing, but it will be "how did your business come about?" Or "why did you start your business?", you need to be ready with an answer, and not just "Oh, I thought it would be cool." Dig deep! Why did you start your current business over anything else that you could have done and why does that matter to your clients?
Knowing your business also includes knowing your offerings and services. You have to know what you produce, sell and offer. That's a huge part of your business and you need to know them well. You should also be excited about them! When I meet a business owner who isn't excited about their own offering, red flags start going off in my head and it causes a flood of questions to start streaming in. And if that happens to me, it will happen to your customer. A word of advice, if you're not excited about your offering, find something else to do.
2. Know who you serve -
The second is knowing who you serve. Now there is so much advice out there about creating customer profiles, avatars, etc. If you've put enough thought and effort into creating your dream customer profile, give yourself a pat on the back! That is seriously awesome! I haven't met many business owners who have done that. But if you think that you are nutella, and your "dream customer" is everyone....this is for you.
I understand wanting to be everything to everyone. I've been there and I still feel like that some days. It's hard to niche yourself, because you feel like you're leaving a huge piece of the population out, and you're sure that you can serve them too. But finding the people who you can serve best skyrocket's your business. It brings clarity to your customers, and connects to the people who will be the best customers for you. The experience will be better, and you'll start becoming an expert with that group of people.
So what I encourage each potential client and client going through my process is to think back on your three best customers. The ones that you absolutely loved doing business with. The process went so smoothly, everything seemed effortless, and you really felt like you clicked. Describe those three customers and why you liked them as much as you did. What was their gender, age, profession. What were some characteristics that made the experience so good. Then take a moment and see if you can find any patterns between them. If you can, that is your target market, and that is what you need to bring to your designer.
Now there are also those people that you would like to serve. Maybe you're not there yet, but you want to grow into another market, price range, etc. Let your designer know that also, but be specific. As specific as you can get, the better!
3. Know where you want to go -
Goals, Goals, Goals. Goals are so important to know before you work with a designer, because a designer's goal isn't often to design something for where you currently are, it's to design something that will align with your goals and move you forward to be able to accomplish them. Design can be very forward-thinking, so you need to know where you would like to be.
I ask my clients about their one year, five year, and ten year goals. Now, I'm not necessarily designing for their ten year goals, because there would possibly be some disconnect in the present, but I like to steer the design that way.
Take some time and make some business goals. What would you like your business to look like in one, five and ten years? Are you still a soloprenuer or do you have employees? Are you in the same city? Do you still work out of your home? Do you still serve the same people? Do you still offer the same services/products? Are there any that you would love to offer? How much money would you like to make? - or better yet, what is that money going to get you and what do you want to accomplish with it? Do you want to go on a trip to Hawaii? Do you want to buy that 10 acres that you've been dreaming about? Do you want to make enough that your spouse can do what they love? Make realistic goals that are personal to you and get you excited for the future and what you're doing. These goals really allow a designer to look past the present and start designing for the future of your business.
What should I do to prepare myself to work with a designer, you ask? Know your business and what you offer, know who you serve, and know where you want to go! Knowing these there things is not only going to help your designer create the best work for you, but it may help you if you've never sat down and really thought or written these things down.
If you really want to knock your designer's socks off, here are a few extra ways that you can prepare that are simple to do throughout your day or week.
Start a pinterest board for your business and start pinning things that are inspiring as you scroll through. If you want to read more about what you should be pinning, I have a blogpost all about it.
As you interact with other businesses, start looking at their branding, the colors they use, how they talk, etc and make notes of the ones that are inspirational to you and why.
If you're an over-planner like me, then create a business plan for the year. This will end up being a great tool to use as you make business decisions, as you grow, and as you work with a designer.
DESIGN TRANSPARENCY SERIES UPDATE:
We are going to be taking a little break from the Design Transparency series during the holidays to do some planning and preparation of our ow for 2018! After the holidays (I can’t believe I’m saying holidays…seriously, where has this year gone??) we’ll pick it back up and I’ll be asking for more questions to keep this series going into 2018. If you think of a question at anytime, leave a comment on here or social media or send them to me directly through email.