Whether you want a business card, a logo, or would simply like to sit down with a graphic designer and discuss options for your business, you will engage in a highly important art of what is known as the graphic design interview.
To the graphic designer, it is a tricky mix of listening and conveying, but more listening and asking questions, much like the standard job interview.
As with any interview, the key factor, without a doubt, is communication. After all, that's what graphic designers get paid to do- to interpret your ideas into a productive, flowing, symbolic image based on their research, knowledge and experience.
Initially, a graphic designer will like to listen to your ideas; though many graphic designers are particularly skilled with formulating a cohesive image out of partial data and vague ideas, to be formulated and thought out.
At this point, your designer will be able to follow your vision and let you know if the path you are choosing is the right one for your company's future.
As a buyer of graphic design, here's what you can do to get the most out of your design interview:
1. Formulate your ideas pre-interview and research existing logos to find ones you like.
From the point of view of the graphic designer, this is a mandatory imperative. Many clients as entrepreneurs come to graphic designers as if climbing a mountain to seek a guru.
During the phase of exuberant enthusiasm, a spark occurs that ignites the wonderful idea of a logo, corporate identity, or otherwise topically known as branding. This fire that
ignites underneath beginning journeymen and women must be so overwhelming! It incurs the natural act of frenetic hand-waving at the graphic designer.
All in all, we get the communicated gibberish of "We want a logo! It's a great idea!".
And that's as far as it goes. The concept of having a logo is an immensely great thing, but requires a professional to stand behind you through the process to make sure you are marketing yourself effectively!
2. Ask the right questions and be descriptive.
Your designer will go through a series of relevant questions to your business so that we may understand who you are, where you come from, who you're reaching out to and where you would like to be. If you have questions about our questions, please ask, as we want to make sure you completely understand the process and hopefully your knowledge base of marketing and design will be enhanced by the end of the interview.
As with the questions we'll ask you, the more information you provide, the more we have to work with.
You may come to your designer and say, I want my logo to be professional. Of course! Your design will be professional-looking by default.
- Did you have a specific style in mind?
- Have you looked at other existing successful logos to see which ones strike your interest?
- Can you explain specifically why you liked them?
Your designer should take the time to critique any logo idea you bring to the table and explain how each element in the logo samples you choose will or will not work effectively.
Keep in mind that we are also business administrators to some degree. We can find some like-mindedness within the difficulty of starting a small business, service or contracted work.
If you ask us questions regarding the productivity of your business, we may have some know-how, and we convey it by targeting it at an audience that is most suitable to the type of business or service you are providing.
3. Communicate your company's information as clearly and detailed as possible.
Referring back to question 2. The more information you provide, the more we have to work with.
By nature graphic designers usually follow a syntax for the process of formulating a relevant survey to collect information that will "magically" become your design in a short time.
Each design interview is customized to each individual client based on what information needs to be gathered. The main major questions will concern your industry, competition, target audience, demographics and the company's existence. Some questions you may come across may sound like this:
Here is where you should explain your business goals and plans. We want to know whatever relevant information about your business that we can use to symbolically represent a visual message about the company with as little guesswork as to what the company does to the audience. Sure, we love to hear your stories about your grandfather and his legacy of selling antiques and discovering centuries old artifacts. Don't get us wrong. But we can discuss that over coffee sometime after the project is complete. We need to know facts- And the more the better.
Consider, why do you think you need a logo in the first place?
Common objectives are to attract more business for a growing company, so a corporate identity is one that can grow with the company. If you have unsteady plans for the company, it is likely that you will have to go through the costly and customer confusing process of re-designing your corporate identity- so be sure of what you want from your business beforehand and know what you want for the future.
II. Can you think of some major competitors in your area that are providing the same type of service you are?
Your designer will always perform research on your competition. After all, we want you to be better than your competitor. In the same prospects of a private investigator, it helps us to take a competitors logo and reverse engineer it to figure out what trends and elements work and revamp them to our own liking. That's why pre-research can help.
If you sell a new or obscure product that not many people even know about, it might be best to have knowledge of some companies that you are competing with in the market for us to make comparisons to. Not only does this help the end result of the project streamline to some linear equation of that product market, but we may be able to one-up the competition to give you a more attractive logo, thus, yes, it says that our electric bug-catcher is brighter than yours.
III. Who is your target audience?
Simply put, who are you trying to reach? What age range?
20-100, everyone, and other vague ideas are counter-productive and usually results in an ineffective logo. Male or female or both? This usually, despite the simplicity of the question, incurs the most complex and dynamic responses.
To make it easier on you, think about this- out of 10 clients, how many are male? How many are female? What is the average age range in a 5-10 year bracket? It doesn't mean that you don't serve 22 year olds or 72 year olds; who is more likely to purchase your product or service? Maybe ages 25-30? These are the people we are trying to market, and the 22 and 72 year olds will find you anyhow.
We may also ask you what kind of cultural affective traits you are attempting to reach, such as economic status, type or genre of folks (i.e skaters, age 17-25, male and female, middle class).
Being able to pinpoint your nitch market and target audience can help us construct a profile much more proficiently and use the psychology of elements to reach them.
IV. Can you tell me about the products and/or services you're providing?
This question can be answered simply by memory.
Though it helps to know, if you sell motorcycle parts, we may not put handlebars on your logo unless you want them there. The end result is ultimately up to you. We are just trying to help translate your information into a workable visually communicative tool.
V. Are you and Inc or LLC? If so, does your state require you to have this in your logo?
This is good information to have, and can be cured by a simple phone call with the Secretary of State. If you don't know, know that we can always add it later, but it's best to get this covered before your logo files are formatted, to avoid duplicate formatting fees.
VI. How long have you been established? Are there previous versions of an identity (such as colors, fonts or symbols used to represent your company in the past)?
Simply put, how long and have you had any other previous attempts prior to this design interview to form something effective and cohesive to the company?
This will help us determine if we have a clean slate to work with or if it will be more effective to incorporate some or most of the branding you've already established into your new design.
Say for example, your company has been established for 20 years. In the past 15 years, you've been using a font and specific colors to represent your business. Instead of confusing your current clients, we will try our best to maintain some of those elements that define your company (unless of course, they cannot be incorporated for reasons that they convey completely the wrong message to your audience.)
By enhancing your branding, not only will we "Wow!" your current clients, but you'll be sure to pick up new clients much easier.
VII. Let's talk about your long-term and short term goals.
Take these ideas into consideration:
- Where would you like to see your business develop in the next 5 or 10 years?
- How about the next 20 years?
- Will you eventually be serving nationally or internationally?
- Will you be adding products or services?
- Will you be working solely online or opening a shop?
- Do you have plans of creating a series of stores, restaurants or offices?
With a goal, it's much easier to make a detailed plan. And we all know that if we make a good plan and stick to it, you're most likely to succeed!
4. Stay in contact with your designer
You want to build a good working relationship with your designer. Not only have we already talked with you about the in's and out's of your business, but we understand what you're going for. It might make sense to keep your designer for future marketing projects, such as web advertising, print design or promotional materials.
Our skills are your tools, and when it comes to design, layout and effective marketing, we can help you every step of the way.
We are here to help you maintain that crisp, clean image you're looking for.