5 tips from designer to client on starting the process of a custom design.
Not sure where to start? Need an inside scoop? Here are a few tips from a designer that will start you off on the right foot when creating a custom design or logo for your business or cause. The more prepared you are at the start of the process, the smoother it will be for everyone involved.
1. THE MATCH
First things first! Research your designer and their work. Check out their website, their Instagram, their portfolio, and their experience to really feel their style before committing to working together. Every artist has a unique or signature style. Each designer will have a natural type their work gravitates towards, even if they are diverse. As a client, it is essential to recognize if what you're looking for can come from a particular designer. You need to love that style before starting with them or understanding how that style will benefit your business or cause. If you don't love their previous work, there's a chance you won't love what they create for you. If you are drawn to sophisticated illustrative detail, then someone whose design style is playful and bold is not an excellent match for you. Also, keep in mind that after getting the idea of what you're looking for, designers could feel they aren't the right person for the job! In that case, don't be shy to ask if they have any colleagues to who they could potentially refer you.
2. THE MESSAGE
What do you want to represent? What is vital to your business or cause that you want to come through in the design? Your design is a message within an image. You want that image to speak for you loud and clear. Keywords and imagery that are important to you will kick-start visuals for the design. Even if something seems obscure or abstract, your designer will interpret them into a visual. Almost every image can be thought of literally or abstractly, so don't doubt the possibilities of the words you bring. Need help with where to find keywords? Think of the design as a representation of your core beliefs. Check your mission and vision statements, dissect what's essential to the culture of the business or cause, brainstorm buzzwords behind what you do. Imagery can be literal or conceptual. You want to capture the aspirations and meaningful aspects of the company or cause. For example, when we collaborated with Ronald McDonald House Charities® in Alberta, the imagery and keywords we based the design on were Alberta mountains, magic, and the building itself. A few simple ingredients to an eye-catching and meaningful design.
As we know from the last tip, the design will represent more than just a picture itself. Now that you have your keywords and imagery, what feeling do you want to convey? A simple one to two words describes a "feeling" you want someone to have when they see the design. This is where knowing your target audience is essential as well. The most enduring designs trigger an emotional response. We need to make sure the feeling you get when you look at the design will appeal to your target audience. For our collaboration with The Calgary Flames Foundation, the feel of the design was meant to be athletic and sleek. A feeling helps guide the style of the overall tone of the design. If you run a spa, the feeling you want to convey could be relaxed and refreshed. If you run a daycare, the feeling you want to convey could be youthful and playful. Words like these will help your designer start off on the right foot with the right style.
4. THE FOCUS
Less is more! Don't overcomplicate the design. Whatever words and visuals you bring, be sure to highlight 1-2 of the most important ones for your designer to help guide their focus. The other words help build or reassure an overall theme, so don't worry if you bring a lot or a little! However, once you get into the design process, keep in mind that not everything can, or should, be included. Your designer will help you find the focus from those words and visuals. It is disadvantageous to your business when the message gets lost trying to fit much imagery into the same design. In our collab with the Calgary Public Library, we focused on the unique and stunning windows and building architecture. We ended up with a hugely successful design that has lasted for years. The most striking designs are functional and straightforward. So remember, more is not more.
Bring inspiration! Sometimes it's challenging to find the words to describe what you're looking for, and that's OK. Bring visuals to the heavy lifting of communication. Do research on what you like and what you don't like! Make notes on those images. A handful of pictures from each category is helpful for your designer to get inside your head. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words!
If at any point in the process something seems unclear or you just aren't sure what's next, never hesitate to ask! Trust your designer's knowledgeable advice on what will work best for you, but remember to be straightforward early on if you aren't sure about something. Time is money, and you generally want to avoid having to double back and repeat the process. Open, honest, clear lines of communication between you and your designer will be the key to success (well, the key to the success of any relationship, really).
At Local Laundry, we've been creating custom clothing designs for organizations for years, and we'd love to work with you! If you're on the hunt for a custom design for your business or cause, we'd love to hear from you.
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