March 27, 2024

How Small Businesses Should Work with Graphic Designers

As a small business owner, you know that making a powerful first impression is everything. In today’s visually-driven world, your brand identity plays a huge role in shaping how potential customers perceive your products or services right off the bat. That’s where graphic designers step in.

A professional logo design, eye-catching website, creative marketing materials – these are what set an established, credible brand apart from being just another small fish in a big pond. A strategic brand presence with brilliant creative work is key for small businesses looking to attract their target audiences, boost credibility, and ultimately stand out in the market.

However, most small companies don’t have the resources or budget for a full-time creative department. That’s where bringing in talented freelance designers and marketing experts becomes invaluable. By collaborating with these outside professionals, you can get stunning, customer-grabbing visuals and assets that elevate your brand without the overhead of hiring an on-staff artistic team.

At PostNet, we frequently partner small businesses with top-notch graphic designers within our network. From years of facilitating these client-designer relationships, we’re sharing five essential tips for entrepreneurs to build a smooth, productive partnership with creative partners from day one.

Tip 1: Clearly Define Project Goals and Scope

Before even starting discussions with potential graphic designers, get crystal clear on exactly what you need their creative skills for. Common objectives may include:

  • Developing a brand new logo and full visual identity suite  
  • Designing an engaging, on-brand website from the ground up
  • Creating visually compelling marketing materials like brochures, menus, or sales sheets
  • Refreshing outdated branding with a modern new look  
  • Establishing brand standards for packaging, on-premise signage, etc.

Put together a simple creative brief that outlines the specific pieces you need designed, your vision for the overall style and tone, your target customer profiles, projected budgets and timelines, and any inspirational examples you love (or hope to avoid). 

The more upfront clarity and context you can provide, the easier it will be for graphic designers to understand your goals and deliver concepts that are on-point. Don’t make them start from scratch – seed the creative process with your own initial thoughts and direction.

Tip 2: Be an Open Book on Your Brand 

Even if you’re just starting to establish your company’s brand identity, document and share as much detail around your brand’s core personality and market positioning as possible. Things like:

  • Your company’s mission, values, and key differentiators  
  • Profiles of your ideal customers, their preferences, and pain points
  • The competitive landscape – design styles you want to emulate or avoid
  • Your bold vision for how you want your brand story and perception to evolve

While graphic designers are hired for their creative expertise, this background context about your brand identity and strategic marketing goals is priceless for inspiring authentic, insightful design work. The more you can immerse the creative team in who you are as a company, the more opportunity for brand-defining creative magic.

At the same time, don’t be too prescriptive. Share your preferences, but leave flexibility for graphic designers to explore new creative directions that could elevate your brand beyond your original expectations.

Tip 3: Communicate Constantly & Efficiently

As a busy entrepreneur juggling a million priorities, you don’t have time for endless email chains, missed deadlines, or miscommunications with your designer. Establish clear pathways and protocols from the get-go:

  • Your primary point(s) of contact for reviews and feedback
  • The designer’s preferred tools and process for sharing files 
  • A cadence for quick check-in calls or stand-ups to gauge progress

When providing feedback, be as specific and actionable as possible about what is/isn’t working for you and why. Vague notes like “Hmm, just not feeling it…” make it extremely tough for graphic designers to properly implement revisions.

Instead, use examples to explain what you’d tweak – “The icon looks too geometric, something more rounded and playful would match our brand voice better.” Or record a quick video walkthrough of the opening pages while talking through your thoughts. Always refer back to the creative brief and goals outlined upfront.

By communicating clearly and frequently, you’ll avoid endless back-and-forth rounds and instead make consistent forward progress.

Tip 4: Account for Stakeholder Approvals  

While you may be the key decision-maker and creative director for your business, determine upfront if any other stakeholders like partners, major investors, or executives need to formally approve creative assets and brand elements. If so:

  • Let your designer know which stakeholders need to sign off, and at what stage(s)
  • Specify any unique requirements for deliverable formats, file types, etc.  
  • Build review cycles and an anticipated approval timeline into your shared project plan
  • Consolidate all feedback into one streamlined document to avoid contradiction

Keeping the creative team in the loop about all approval needs from the beginning – rather than having them be a surprise roadblock – will prevent unnecessary delays or rework.

Tip 5: Trust the Experts, But Stay Hands-On

You’ve hired professional graphic designers and creative marketing experts for their robust artistic capabilities, fresh perspectives, and years of specialized experience. So let them take the strategic lead and drive the creative process to some degree!  

Don’t be afraid to go outside your original creative boundaries if their concepts and innovative ideas feel smart, elevated, and true to your brand’s core identity. Some of the most impactful designs emerge when businesses empower their creative partners’ expertise.

However, as the owner and de facto representative of your brand, it’s still crucial for you to stay actively engaged and hands-on throughout the process. This new brand identity or robust creative suite is the outward face of your business – so you need to feel it captures your company’s unique voice and authentic vision.

Work hand-in-hand with graphic designers, sharing your lofty ambitions for where you want to take the company. Weigh in on whether potential design directions truly feel representative of your brand’s personality and values. Ensure the creative work resonates with your own instincts about what will strike a chord with your target customers.

A productive designer relationship is a true collaborative partnership, not an instance of you delegating while creatives work in a silo. By balancing trust in their artistic skills with your consistent involvement and quality control, you’ll end up with brilliant brand creative that makes an unforgettable impact.

The Bottom Line: Leverage PostNet for Designer Partnership Success

For small businesses aiming to create a standout brand identity and powerful marketing presence without the cost of hiring an in-house creative team, partnering with skilled graphic designers is a smart investment. But the effectiveness of that investment hinges on your ability to facilitate an efficient, collaborative design process.

By kicking things off with a clear creative brief, being open and transparent about your brand, frequently communicating in an actionable way, streamlining stakeholder approvals, and staying hands-on while still empowering the designers’ talents, you’ll end up with brand-defining creative work that captures attention and wins over customers.

Not sure where to find reliable graphic designers you can trust? Or wanting an experienced partner to facilitate and guide the entire creative collaboration? PostNet has you covered. 

With our national network of skilled creative professionals and years facilitating client-designer partnerships, our team will bring your branding or marketing visions to life. We’ll then implement time-tested strategies and best practices to ensure an effortless, effective process from creative briefing to final approval.

So don’t go it alone or settle for subpar creative work – leverage the expertise of PostNet’s graphic designers to elevate your brand image and marketing assets. When you look polished and professionally branded, the customers and sales will follow.

Find your nearest PostNet today, and let’s get started making your small business look and feel like an industry leader!


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