02 Sep Looking for a Great Designer? 5 Traits to Watch out for (3 mins).
There are many self-proclaimed designers out there. Some of them are terrible. Others are better. In our day, where there are easily-accessible online learning resources and widely-diffused design technologies (e.g. Adobe Cloud), many self-taught types aren’t that bad at all.
But what sets a great designer apart from a good one? You might be surprised to hear that it isn’t necessarily the education they’ve experienced. It isn’t simply the technology they use, either. Nor is it fundamentally the company they’ve kept or the circles they’ve moved in over the years.
Great designers – whether they focus on logos, branding, graphic designers, or something else – all share the following traits:
1. They are focussed
A great designer makes the effort to ascertain your needs and specifications from the very beginning. They go out of their way to understand your goals, and set a plan in motion to help achieve them with a visual solution.
Once the creative vision is clear, a great designer brings this focus into a clear process of mind-mapping a range of ideas. They gather creative resources; aligning skills and activities towards the end goal. They also evaluate what’s produced through objective criteria, ensuring that the end result is as refined as possible.
2. They listen well
It isn’t uncommon for designers to think they know better than the client. It’s certainly true that great designers have immense insight into the kind of solution that will work for you, and meet your needs. But at the end of the day, you’re the client and what’s produced has to sit well with you.
A great designer will take your thoughts, needs and concerns on board throughout the creative process. They will read your brief carefully, and will follow what it actually says (not what they would like it to say).
3. They are proactive
Too many designers are slow to respond to client communications, or are terrible at keeping to agreed deadlines.
A great designer will not only keep to deadlines, but will stay ahead of them. They will even be willing to throw in that little bit extra (e.g. an additional logo design idea) somewhere along the design process.
They go out of their way to keep the creative process alive and moving by keeping clear, regular communication. They keep calm under intense pressure, and make you feel like your project is in safe, dedicated hands.
All in all, they leave you wanting to go through the design experience again.
4. They are honest
It can be all too tempting to simply tell a client or prospect what you think they want to hear.
“Sure, we’ll keep on doing logo design revisions until you’re happy!” (Reality: there’s a limit to the number of revisions).
“You need a full brand roll out for your start up business.” (Reality: you probably should focus on a logo, website and a small marketing strategy for now. You can worry about corporate signage, brand guidelines, tailored stationary and the like later on).
A great designer will always put your needs first, but will be honest with you. They won’t hide their costs. Nor will they promise more than they can deliver. They won’t be afraid to say if a creative idea isn’t working, or if a proposed design route isn’t the right solution.
They will do a great job of managing your expectations, and will back up their claims with evidence or examples of previous work.
Great designers are, in summary, also great advisers.
5. They are problem-solvers
Sometimes there’s a client need that a typical solution (e.g. a standard logo design) won’t fill. Other times, a typical solution will encounter an unexpected problem. In these moments, a great designer steps up to the task.
They find original, inventive and cost-effective solutions to complex problems and needs. They are also good educators – explaining in simple, understandable terms why this is the optimal approach to take.
As the Marketing Coordinator at Ratio7, Phil is responsible for devising tailored marketing strategies for his clients; generating engaging and informative content; and ensuring brand consistency across all of Ratio7’s communications. Phil has a passion for creating powerful corporate brands, and suffers from a borderline-unhealthy addiction to Google analytics.
In his spare time, Phil can be found training for powerlifting competitions, watching Jason Statham movies, and playing acoustic guitar at open mic nights.