This post is in response to Brian Doll's "How to pick a design agency." article discussing decisions about collaborating with Thought Merchants during their Reify branding project.
How your brand represents itself is undeniably the most important aspect to running a successful business. Whether you are a start-up or an established company with an identity crisis, brand driven design is more than just visual aesthetics. It’s an integration of simplicity, consistency, and a final product that creates an experience for consumers - aspects that only a professional designer can provide. Here I present three questions you need to ask yourself when deciding if you are ready to work with a designer.
Or more accurately, are you willing to spend at least $5,000? If yes - great, let’s work together. No? Then we will probably not work together. A professional designer needs time to understand your business, your personnel, and your core business values. Time that we need to bill for. Without this, it’s impossible to visually solve the problems for which you came.
So why a $5K cut off? I cannot commit to and do great work for under that. When you pay a much less for a branding job, you pay a novice. Someone who will not bring depth and expertise to your brand. While a novice designer can produce reasonable results from time to time - the track record over long term is not good. Your business takes on unnecessary risk.
Are you a bootstrap start up just looking for something better than the founder can do? Then more novice designers are a great fit. But if you want to build a brand that communicates your vision for years to come, then you will need a professional. The best designers are not just service providers, they help your company understand itself through the design process.
You need to be ready as an organization to receive honest, external feedback. A good designer will call you out on your buillshit, and you should call them out on theirs. Collaboration and constructive criticism will move the two parties closer to their end goal - dope designs that achieve your business goals.
You invest in a designer to create what you can't. All too often you don’t even have the visual language to explain what you want to accomplish, and that’s okay. The designer is going to work with you to develop your visual vernacular. You just have to let them lead the way a bit.
If you answered yes to these questions, you’re ready to work with a professional designer. Here’s a few expert tips on how to effectively collaborate on your next design project:
Oct 16, 2017
By thinking critically about the design that exists around us - evaluating what works, what doesn’t and why - we can apply new perspectives and rigor to our work designing applications and systems and communicate more effectively through design.
Our observations range from big corporate rebrands to local business street fliers. With each, we’ve taken the time to break down the designs and offer our point of view via a ranking system modeled after the Robert Parker wine rating system.
Unsatisfactory: Does not achieve design or communication goals.
Satisfactory: Just enough, sufficient, fine or “sure.”
Good: It’s good.
Very Good: Better than most but not exceptional.
Exceptional: Unusually good, rare, outstanding.
We love looking at new things, so if you want us to evaluate something you have seen or made, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to sign up for the quarterly Thought Merchants email to get new observations delivered right to you.