If you've looked into working with a brand designer, you've probably found that their schedule might be booked pretty far in advance. Most of the time, I am booked 6+ months in advance to work with small business owners on creating and improving their brands. This might seem crazy to think that you need to schedule with a designer so long before you actually get to work with them, but most quality designers fill their schedules fast and it might be worth waiting to work with them. Because I believe it can be so important, I wanted to dive in to why your favorite designer might be booked out for months and why you should get on their schedule as soon as you can instead of settling for something that might not be a good fit.
Do your research
Finding the right fit for your brand and business takes some time and research. You shouldn't hire the first person you find or a friend of a friend just because they are cheap. Ask your friends in the industry for recommendations and take the time to research designers that will fit your style and needs. Talk with them about their style and process and tell them about you and your business so that you both know if it will be a good fit to work together. You want to be sure to find someone that will deliver what you need and help you develop your brand specifically for your business. There are several questions you can ask as the client to make sure the designer is a good fit.
Good designers book quickly
It would be nice to think that all designers are equal. But in reality, you will get what you pay for. If you find a designer that has an immediate opening and willing to give you a deal without any hesitation, it could potentially end badly. That's not to say that any designer that has an opening or will work with you on your budget is bad, but more often than not, those designers that work too quickly and charge next to nothing are not going to be fully invested in your project. The hard truth is that you will get much more value out of working with a designer that is going to be fully immersed in your project. For example, when I book clients, I only book 1-2 clients at a time so that I can dedicate my time to that project and my pricing and schedule reflects that. Because I allow for a certain amount of time for each project, my schedule fills up fast and I am often booked several months in advance. But at the same time, that means that I am devoting all my time to your project when we are working together instead of trying to juggle too many things at once. So when you find a designer that is booked 6 months in advance, that's usually a good sign all around. That means that they are probably going to be spending more time focusing on your project and that they are a well sought after designer that several people want to work with.
The value of waiting for the right designer
Finding the perfect designer to work with for your needs can be tricky. You might spend hours researching designers to find the one that will be able to deliver what you need and match your style. And then once you land on that perfect fit you might be told that their next available start date is months away. But finding that perfect fit holds more value than you think. Working with the wrong brand developer can have negative effects on your entire business, not to mention that you may end up investing more money later on to fix the problems.
I know that I am a brand designer myself, so it may seem like I am just saying this to book clients. But to give you an outside perspective from someone who has had a bad experience with a designer, I invited Mary to tell her story. Mary initially wanted to work with me, but it wasn't going to be a good fit for her needs so she ended up working with someone else. And in the end, Mary's experience wasn't pleasant, leaving her wishing she'd waited to find that right fit. Here is Mary's story:
The day I first spoke with my new designer, she seemed rushed. She told me that she had an immediate opening, and that pulled me in a little too quickly. I needed fast help! I hung up the phone and had my deposit of half down sent to her before an hour had passed. My gut started to question, but I pushed it away because I wanted this project started before I lost any more sales from a confusing, and broken website.
Communication with my new designer also came with the feeling that she had a hundred other things she would rather do. I admit, I was hoping for a little TLC. I wanted feedback, I wanted communication, and a tiny bit of cheerleading to help me feel like someone was on my team. Am I a nightmare client? No, I honestly don’t think that my hopes were unreasonable. Our business’ are our babies. We have poured our heart and souls into these companies, and we want to make sure that our new care giver loves our project as much as we do.
The time spans of no communication were already concerning me at the 3 week point when my first proofs were late, sent with an excuse, and a very obvious rush job on the day that I asked if we could please have them. I kid you not, the first proofs looked very much like a template I had bought 8 years ago for $50.00 when I first began my store. Instead of wanting to seem rude or difficult, I used the small amount of graphic skills I had to re work the bad proofs, and sent them back, filled with compliments on other jobs she had done for people, and telling her that I knew we would end up with a great project in the end. Wait a second. Did I just become the cheerleader and designer? I didn’t trust my own design skills, and being put in that position concerned me even more. While I waited for responses, any suggestions, any encouragement, I watched my designer remake her entire website. Red flag.
The second round of proofs came 3 weeks later. They were EXACTLY what I had mocked up. No comments, no ideas, just exactly what I had tried to show her. I also asked her if she may be too busy for my project, and told her that at 4 week point, I had hoped for so much more as far as her attitude seemed. Communicating how I felt was bounced back with a very confrontational and uncomfortable list of reasons that I was in the wrong for feeling that way. Every time I hoped for changes or revisions, there were excuses. I was required to pay my balance in full before the website could be switched to live mode for me to start loading my products. I watched her redesign her website a third time. We finally launched after 3.5 months. Once we launched, the errors began.
This process almost put me out of business. I’m not dramatic, by any means. I promise. But I literally had to lay off my workers, and make the decision if I could afford more supplies to keep my doors open. It was like someone was standing in front of my store with a chain on it, and I could do nothing to help. I wish I could trust that it was designed to sell my products. But knowing that I am not a sales driven designer, I will never really know. Sales are not good, and I will be recovering for a very long time on this.
I so hope you read this if you are in the process of hiring a designer. I have grown into a friendship and true admiration for Intentionally Designed. I pray you will understand that this decision can close your business if not done well. Not to mention, give you months of mental distress. In a creative driven business, mental distress alone can close down your ability to work.
Wait for him or her if you need to, for as long as you need to wait.
If you are considering investing in your brand or website within the next year, I suggest that you start planning for it now. Do your research, find the right fit for you, and talk with them about getting on their calendar so you know you have a spot in their books. This also allows you to be able to budget and save for the investment as well as think through some of the planning phases in depth to ensure that you are prepared to start the project when your date comes around. Even if your designers schedule doesn't line up with what you had in mind, it might be worth waiting for when their schedule opens up so that you can avoid having any issues like Mary and many others. Quality brand development is an investment in both time and money, and it is worth waiting to work with the right person for your business and taking the time to work through the process well.
Have you worked with a brand designer? Did you have to wait to get on their schedule, and was it worth the wait?
PS: If you liked this post, you might also like Why you should hire a designer.