How to Provide Design Direction

Close up of multiple people's hands at a design table
by Jessica DeAngelis

So, you’re kicking off a new project and want to help your designer get onboard with your vision. The discussion during the marketing kickoff meeting along with direction written up in the project plan will help guide our creative decisions, but sometimes our interpretation is not quite what you had in mind.

Best practices for a successful partnership with a designer:

  1. Provide samples.

You’ve got an idea in your head, but trying to describe what you want when you’re not familiar with “creative/designer speak” can be a challenge. As the old saying goes, “a picture paints a thousand words.” Samples can be an effective way to show the designer what you’re looking for. Talking through examples will take a lot of the initial guess work out of trying to determine what you’re looking for. You don’t have to like everything in a piece of inspiration. Just telling us what you do and don’t like about something opens up a discussion and gets us closer to the perfect solution.

  1. Make sure your team is aligned.

There is nothing more counterproductive than working out a concept only to have it shot down by others who were not part of the original discussion. Work to get everyone on the same page before the kickoff meeting. If things evolve due to discussions in the kickoff, take time to get everyone on board with the general idea before the designer spends time creating a concept that may not be approved.

  1. Give your graphic designer a chance to talk.

Remember, you’re not placing an order; you’re collaborating with a talented colleague who brings a lot to the table. Keep an open mind. In the end, we all want the same thing – an attractive and effective piece of communication!