Rochelle Weiner Carr - 01/16/2011 - Creative Process

What if you are working with a designer and you don’t like any of their concepts? You spent all that time looking for the right designer, they make you fill out a creative brief with questions about every little thing, you paid them 1/2 down and now look at this first presentation - ugh!

Ok - don't freak.

Take a deep breath and give this some thought. It is possible, particularly on first glance, that you will not be wowed by any of the ideas. That is ok. Lots of times your mind needs time to get used to seeing something new before you can evaluate without prejudice. Give it some time, review it carefully, ask a few friends what they think.

I did all that and I still don't like it!

At this point it's time to go back to the creative brief and see if your answers pointed your designer in the wrong direction. If you gave the designer unclear or vague direction, or if your goals have changed since you filled out the brief, you need to talk to the designer. It will probably require a revision of the creative brief. If you've changed direction mid-project, it may also change your cost since the designer has already spent time going in the wrong direction, and that direction was given by you. Time is money... in this industry too.

If you feel you were clear in your direction but the designer missed the mark, you and the designer need to have a conversation. This is a typical situation and nothing to be worried about…yet. It certainly is not an indication that the designer is no good. They may have just misunderstood what you wanted. Everyone has different styles of communicating. Something you say may mean one thing to you but can be interpreted differently by your designer. Don’t give up hope. It’s all part of the process.

Here are some tips for moving forward:

  1. Review the concepts and list the things that ARE working and why.
  2. Also list the things that are off the mark and why they don’t work for you.
  3. If there is something the designer is definitely missing, or if they've included something that is unnecessary, ask them to fix it.
  4. Find a different way to describe to the designer what it is that you want. Even if it feels like you are over compensating - it's better to do that than to take a chance at them not understanding a second time.
  5. Show some examples of what you’re looking for – a printed piece, a website that is similar to what you want for your project. Designers are visual people - a visual aid can go a very long way to illustrating what you want.

Let the designer go back to the drawing board.

If on the second presentation they are still way off the mark – again - don’t freak out. Review carefully the second submission – are they have moved significantly closer to a design solution than they were on the first round? If you feel that they are getting closer,  continue working with them. They'll probably get it on the next round. Use the same steps as above and go into round three. This process may have just been the two of you learning to communicate with each other, and a typical creative process.

However, if the design off in a way that tells you they are not listening to you or trying to sway you in a way that you have been clear that you do not want to go, you may have a problem. You need to have a sense that the designer is hearing you and respecting your needs and desires in the project. Not every relationship is made in heaven. If you truly have a feeling that it is not working out, it’s better to cut your losses and start over with someone new.

A professional designer plans for a few edit rounds in coming to a final decision on any project. You don’t have to be shy - ask for revisions. Work with the designer - be clear about what you want. You are encouraged give your opinion, to make suggestions, and request edits. However, if the designer is truly not understanding what you want, or not able to respond to your direction, then don’t take it personally. It’s business and you are allowed to change your mind. Talk to the designer and let them know how your are feeling. Typically a professional will only charge you for the time that they have spent on your project. Then you can cut the ties and look for a better match.

Join the Andiamo mailing list