Hey, Listen Up

Ever have a project come back from your graphic designer and find it’s no where near what you had in mind? I’m guessing the answer is a resounding yes!

Well, you’re not alone and we’ve heard all about this from many prospects over the years. The number one issue these marketers tell us (in working with their previous freelance designer or a design agency), is a lack of listening skills. And when pressed about what they did to fix the issue, the answers and excuses they heard varied.

Designers are very opinionated and are quick to defend themselves …

“I thought this would be better and way cool”

“We didn’t have enough time”

“There was no direction”

“You didn’t supply a creative brief”

“The creative brief was confusing”

“I can’t read your mind”

“But we’re the experts”

As a marketer, those probably sound familiar, and I’m betting it’s caused you plenty of lost opportunity waiting for things to be redesigned. So do you simply replace your designer? Well, not yet as I’m sure they usually do a decent job, but here are some things your designer should be asking you. At the onset …

Are they asking what the project’s purpose is?

Do they ask for a sample of a previous piece?

Is timeline or expectations addressed?

Have they asked for a creative brief?

Do they ask for all the details up front, requesting logos, photos, branding guidelines?

Are they asking questions to gain understanding?

Do they paraphrase what you just told them?

A good designer or design agency should be listening, and should deliver back what you’ve asked for. An even better designer should be providing you alternatives, perhaps one layout matching your brief, and another that they’d like you to consider.

However, let’s be reasonable. A designer will occasionally miss the mark, but if they want to grow the relationship, they should be listening more.

As for me, I’ve been practicing ‘active listening’ with my wife for some time now, and she says I’m a much better husband for it. Now if only I’d put my clothes in the damn hamper already!

Greg Carmichael
Greg Carmichael

Greg is the Managing Director of Synergy Design, a creative branding agency in Streetsville (Mississauga), just outside of Toronto. Greg leads a talented team that creates effective marketing collateral for print and online, and he ensures their clients have a great experience working with them. To learn more, visit ca.linkedin.com/in/gregcarmichaelsynergydesign/en