I have been in this business a long time. I have worked with some amazing clients - visionary people who are smart, savvy, decisive, and good communicators. These people understand that hiring a creative to work on a project for you is a collaboration, and they make great clients. However, if you've never worked with a designer before you may not know how the process works. In my experience there are two main pitfalls when working with a designer - the "I'm too busy, you do it" client and the "I don't know, what do you think" client:
“I'm too busy, you do it”
I have worked with many small business owners throughout the years. Some of them have found their success by doing everything on their own and in their own way. It's quite and achievement and they pride themselves on this. However, as a small company grows, responsibilities and to-do lists grow too, and one person simply cannot keep up with everything. There just are not enough hours in the day. That's when they start calling for professional help. However, since they are busy they tend to rush through giving the designer the information they need to complete the job properly, and since they're used to doing it themselves, they also tend to second-guess all the designer's ideas and advice.
At Andiamo we begin new projects with a fact-finding session or a questionnaire which asks all the relevant questions for that project. Even with this step in place it's amazing how many times important details about the project are not communicated to the designer or how often assumptions are made that the designer knows crucial things about the client's business or their industry, when the designer simply does not have this information. The project can only be successful if the creative team is fully informed.
Also, a good designer is there to advise you on your best route of action. Everything that they propose should be based on the information you've given them PLUS that designer's expertise in the field of marketing and design. A designer's reputation stands on the success of each project they create so they are as interested in making your project a success as you are. So, as hard as it is sometimes to trust someone else to make decisions, that is exactly what you have hired them to do. So let them do it.
“I don't know, what do you think?”
If this is you, you may think that letting the designer make all the choices is the best way to go. They are the designer, they should know what they are doing, right? Well… sort of right. But also sort of wrong.
If you chose well, of course the designer will advise you on the best way to achieve your goals through your marketing materials. But the success of the project must originate with good direction from you, the business owner. You have goals and tastes and an opinion, and you need to make sure that the designer knows them. No one knows your business better than you. The designer needs your direction to understand your company and your objectives for the project. The designer also needs your forthright feedback on their work in order to hone it into something you really love and that will work for you in the way you need.
If you walk into the relationship holding back your thoughts and opinions, then the final product will not reflect you, it will reflect the designer. And the designer is not the owner of your business.
Creative development is a two-way street
Yes - it's all about communication. If you have chosen a good designer, and you are taking the time to communicate well with your them, then your project should turn out great. When you walk into any sort of creative project be prepared to supply lots of information about your company, your industry, your goals, your needs, your taste, etc. And know you will also need to give thoughtful reviews of the work at each approval stage. If you are able to do this, your project will turn out great and your designer will thank you. Put your trust in your designer and know that it will take input from both of you to come to the best graphic solution for your project.