The graphic design process can appear overly simplistic or completely daunting to those of us that aren’t familiar with it. Rushing through or avoiding the process has likely been the case at some point for most of us, yet we find ourselves wondering why it's so difficult to get images that not only meet our needs and offer an ROI, but that we're also in love with and want to reuse time after time.
Taking time to comb through the design process is a worthwhile exercise and will help save man hours and budget dollars from sliding through the cracks. Follow these eight (8) steps in your next design project, and you’ll be sure to gather images (and results) that meet your business needs and maximize your budget!
1. Analyze your graphic design needs.
While a complete rebranding means starting back at square one with your graphic design projects, you may realize in the research stage that you only need graphic design services in certain areas of your business. Maybe it’s a specific department or a specific project that needs the work, or maybe it’s a head-to-toe undertaking. Define these areas before you start your designs so you have a better understanding of what should be accomplished and why.
2. Establish image objectives.
No one knows more than you about your business’ goals and objectives. Whether you’re looking into graphic design to rebrand your company or simply to market a product or service, determining your objectives and the effect you want your images to have before taking any other step will help you get and stay on the right track.
3. Determine your audience.
The more specific you can be about who your clients and potential customers are, the better you’ll understand the ways in which they think and react to your visual messages.
4. Cull your industry knowledge and best practices.
Take a look at your competitors, your own company’s past, and businesses in your industry that have been wildly successful or downright terrible in getting and growing their market share. What have they done well in their branding? Where have they had minor or serious publication errors that have cost them customers? What has your own business gained or lost from the images it's used in the past? Use your knowledge about your company, industry, competitors and customers to form a foundation for your image creation.
5. Outline your values.
Your company’s values may be very different than its competitors, and you may not be comfortable doing things the way others do them. Outline your company’s values, priorities and mission, and design images that support the identity and character of your business.
6. Evaluate your communication mediums.
Different mediums may require varying images to effectively promote and shape your business, services, concept or brand identity. While one image might look great in print, it may not have the same appeal when used in an electronic format.
7. Carefully decide on a budget.
You know the state of your company’s finances, and while it’s important to pay for quality work, it’s also important to stay within the budget you allot. Deciding on a number before you get started can save you from stomach-churning financial surprises and setbacks.
8. Brainstorm ways to visually communicate your message.
It matters not whether you’re doing the design in house or hiring a third party for their graphic design services. You need to be a part of the design process and have the ability to determine beforehand what you don’t want in your new images. You may not know exactly what you want everything to look like, but getting an idea of what you don’t want will help expedite the process and ensure a more pleasing outcome, whether from an internal employee or a hired service provider.
For those of us that aren’t graphic designers, it’s easy to underestimate the process and required preparation for making the most of graphic design time, but following these 8 steps will help make the most of your design efforts and budget. Take time to go through them carefully and stress to your designer the importance of each. You’ll wind up with more effective images that you'll be eager to begin implementing in your marketing and branding materials!