If you’ve clicked this article, then you’ve probably already had trouble communicating effectively with a graphic designer or vice-versa. However, when we put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we quickly realized we have a lot to gain from working closely together as a team. Finding a common language between content managers and designers can be a great first step in avoiding common misunderstandings and can drastically improve the impact of your campaigns. With that in mind, the Stylight team listed the most common things you should never say to a graphic designer plus why, and what, to tell them instead: here you are, our How to Work with Graphic Designers guide.
#1 “I want the same as this!”
*Why you’re saying this: You can’t really put a word on the graphic style you are envisioning for your new communication campaign. You came across this other company’s new advert and it looks great. We should do the same, right?
*What your designer thinks: Here is another design I will have to change over and over again until it looks completely different!
So what’s the problem?: Saying you want the same as another company’s campaign is a good start, as your designer can get a feel for what you want, but you need to make sure that this isn’t your only input. The specific style you liked may not fit with your own marketing and comms objectives and cannot just be a copy of someone else’s work. If you are having trouble expressing what you want for a campaign, you can describe the feelings you want to convey by impersonating it. If this design was a person, who would it be? What reaction does your target audience want to convey (laughter, questions, shock, interest)? What is the call to action?
Say instead: “This is my objective and I would like to convey this idea. I found this nice campaign that I think could be good inspiration for the project. How about we discuss together how this style can be adapted to our corporate identity and campaign strategy?”
#2 “I want something like… cool!”
*Why you’re saying this: You can’t find a better word to use and you really want your design to be cool!
*What the designer thinks: Mmm, so what’s your definition of cool?
So what’s the problem?: Sometimes we just don’t speak the same language. One thing that means something very specific to a manager can mean something very different to a designer. Have you ever pictured in your mind exactly what you want but then the words fail you when describing it? Good news: sometimes pictures speak louder than words! Before meeting for the briefing, try to prepare an inspiration board with different designs you’d like to be discussed during the meeting. At Stylight, the communication and marketing team is provided with design books. You can go over them at anytime, get some inspiration and show others what you do and don’t like, thus avoiding any misunderstanding with designers.
Say instead: ”I want something cool, and here are some styles from this design book that I think might be a good starting point.”
#3 “The deadline was yesterday”
*Why you’re saying this: You’ve been juggling multiple projects at the same time and just realized you needed it as soon as possible!
*What the designer thinks: That fast? I’m already working on multiple projects at the same time!
So what’s the problem?: Last minute is not always an option when it comes to a content campaign or global graphic project. Therefore, projects need be planned ahead. First, try to include a designer throughout the whole process; including them right from the initial brainstorming stage means they can contribute and give input that a manager may not necessarily identify. Then, when a campaign is ideated, you can discuss in more detail with the designer in charge of the graphic style. A first draft to validate the style and format is essential for the whole project, to enable a validation from various stakeholders. Finally, and only when the final content is ready, the designer can start “producing” what was validated. This succession of steps, in which the designers are included as part of the team, means you avoid going back and forth asking for changes. At Stylight, we want to communicate as transparently as possible, so we use an online tool that includes the whole team–and of course the designers–to follow up with our campaigns and see the progress of the designs in real time. Good tools you can try are: Teamweek, Trello, or GoVisually.
Say instead: “Hi, I‘ve invited you to a brainstorming on Wednesday, I’d really like to get your input on a new idea for a communication campaign”.
#4 “I don’t have time to give you feedback now, can we wait until the meeting?”
*Why you’re saying this: Because you have many things to do and can’t be bothered with having a look at the stuff when you’ve already scheduled a meeting with the designer.
*What the designer thinks: I don’t want to keep on working if I don’t get feedback at that point.
So what’s the problem?: At that point you’re not taking the time to give a first feedback, but you’re still expecting a full first draft. In the designer’s eyes, feedback is needed before they go in the wrong direction, and nothing is more frustrating than getting almost to the end of a project and hearing there is an issue that could have been corrected days ago. Feedback should be frequent, especially early on, as it helps save precious time. If the direction is not the right one, it’s better to say as early as possible. In that case, make sure you spend some time with the design team and explain clearly what you are looking for. Make sure you provide inspiration for your design team–such as pictures, previous campaigns, and other work you think could give them the right impression.
Say instead: “Of course I can give you feedback. It looks like it’s definitely on the right track. Don’t hesitate to speak to me if you have any other doubts!”
#5 “I love it, but can we please change it all?”
*Why you’re saying this: This does not look at all like what you had in mind! He/she just did what he/she wanted to!
*What the designer thinks: Whuuut? I did exactly what he/she asked, plus I like this design I worked on…
So what’s the problem?: You tried your best to brief the designer in charge, but your brief was not super organized or complete. Try to spend some one on one time together and make sure you and the graphics team are on the same page. Also, it is wiser to take into consideration the designers’ comments, even when you are sure of what you want. Keep in mind designers work on many different projects, with different clients, so when they say this idea may not look as good as you might think, they are probably right! This would help you avoid the back and forth of “can you please change this?” If you are afraid of missing out some information, you might find it helpful to break down the different elements of the design together with the designer and make sure you discuss and challenge them together. Here are the five main components of a design you could talk about:
- Overall aesthetic
Say instead: “I like it a lot, but this does not quite have the same feel as the content my target audience usually likes. Here is my list of changes, can we go over them together?”
#6 “I don’t like it but I don’t know why”
*Why you’re saying this: You don’t like it… that’s for sure… and you want your designer to know you’re not satisfied.
*What the designer thinks: I can’t do anything about it until you suggest something different!
So what’s the problem?: Honestly… you just don’t know what you don’t like! Even if you genuinely don’t know, try to clear your mind before you say that to your designer. You can start by getting feedback from different people around you. Maybe they’ll help you realize what’s not working with the design. Then, try to write down a list of a few things you think might not be giving the effect that you want. Is it the overall style that you’re questioning, a specific element in particular, the way the information is arranged, or simply some colours that give the wrong vibe? After doing that, you can sit together with your graphic designer and try out some changes together on his/her screen. Sometimes a small change of font or colour can give a totally different vibe to a visual. Also, do not hesitate to describe how the work makes you feel by using adjectives that might help him or her identify what can be changed. Saying that something makes it looks too “soft” or that this specific colour or shape might not look as “masculine” or “daring” as you were hoping for, might help the creative team to give suggestions that will enhance work.
Say instead: “We are definitely getting there! However, there are still a few small tweaks that I am sure will make the piece as “neat” and “impactful” as I want it to be. I made a list of a few things we can look at together, but maybe you have some suggestions too?”
So here you go, with these tips, you are pretty much covered on how to enhance your communication with the graphics team and maximize the impact of your marketing campaigns. You can say goodbye to these 6 sentences and say “hello!” to a transparent, insightful and complementary way to work closely together as a team.
|By Pauline Reuter|