7 tips on what not to do when commissioning a designer

1. Vague meaningless brief

Giving a wide or vague brief won’t get more creativity out of your designer. It will get less. The designer will freeze and produce only safe and conservative ideas.

2. Imposed restrictiveness

A brief needs to restrict. That’s what it’s there for, to say what you want and don’t want. But don’t put artificial restrictions on it such as ‘it must be red’ if there’s not a compelling reason that it should be. You’re just losing put on it being blue, or whatever which could work so much better, but you’d never know.

3. Demand free pitches

Would you want to do your work for free with the hope that after you delivered your service, you might get paid? Probably not and we should question designers’ abilities and motives who are prepared to work like this. Aren’t they good enough to get market rates for doing a proper job? Like everything, you get what you pay for.

4. Variety of decision makers

You’ll waste time and money if you go down a route of revision and change without consulting your real decision maker. You’ll so easily end up back at the beginning having wasted a load of effort.

5. Loose deadlines and unknown availability

Set reasonable deadlines and inform everyone involved. There’s no point in getting a design team to rush the job only to find the decision maker is away for two weeks. Unavailability like this can sometimes mean delivery deadlines missed. The job was done, but there was to-one around to sign it off.

6. Can we just…

Don’t assume that any and every change is simple and easy. A good designer will do what is necessary for the job to work, but saying “can I just… see it in blue” may mean hours of work.

7. Assume large prices equals more creativity and quality

A large agency with a wonderfully exquisite marble reception needs more money to keep operating. What proportion of you fee do you want to be spent on agency luxuries? It depends on the job. Placing what to you is an important and expensive job, costing you a few thousand to an agency whose average job is worth tens of thousands means you’re gong to go to the bottom of their attention pile. Your job will probably be handed to a junior where with a more modest agency, you’d get the creative director on your case. Chose the right kind of designers for the right kind of job. How much should you pay for a piece of work? Like anything you’d buy – shop around.

If you were to meet your ideal client…

If you were to meet your ideal client…

Your best suit you’d probably wear

You’d make sure you shaved neatly, applied makeup discretely

Not forgetting to brush or comb your hair

You’d put on a good show, and let the client know

While professionally showing you care

And yet when your brand meets your ideal client…

Everyday and everywhere

Does it look tired and sloppy with badly worded copy

What does your client see when you’re not there?

Are there opportunities lost and you’re left counting the cost

Because of a message your brand wouldn’t share

Why cheap business cards are the kiss of death

We’ve all seen them. Those free business cards with the clip art image in the top left and Vistaprint printed on the back. They’re great for children and for clubs, but there’s no way any type of business that charges money for its services should be using them. Here’s why:


Business cards are still one of the first ‘touch-points’ you make with a potential client. A touch-point is where a first impression is made in just a few seconds. Some of the others are: your handshake, how you answer the phone, your office reception, your advertising and your website. What impression does a flimsy free card make in those vital seconds?


(People who use free business cards often don’t have their own domain name url for their email. This too is a disaster. Do they not know how cheap email hosting is compared to the very high cost of looking like an amateur?)


If you’re not prepared to spend money on promoting your brand in the simple way as having a good business card you are sending the message to the world that you don’t care a fig about their needs. What you’re saying is:


“I’m on the take, to grab what I can. You have to pay dearly for my over inflated services, but I’m not going to invest in you or give you any value. I’m too cheap, tight and self-serving to do that. In fact, I’m actually lacking in confidence so much in myself and my business that I felt it was too great a risk to invest in a half decent business card. This way, by not spending any money, I may be able to con someone into being a client, but if not well, I haven’t lost anything.”


Is that what you think? Because that is what your prospects will think in a heart beat.

Why brochures are dead

Brochures (stapled together marketing material) will soon be consigned as an anachronism to the dustbin of history.


Why? Because they are costly and ineffective, that’s why.


Should you spend your money on something that no-one reads, that has become so devalued that people get angry if they receive it (and call it spam), that goes straight into the paper recycle bin thus wasting time and material resources AND that cost a moderate sum to produce? The answer is yes, only if you’re an idiot who doesn’t want to be in business for very much longer.


But you do still need to have something that you thought the brochure was going to do. Something that:


– Makes you look like you know what you’re talking about

– Is professionally designed, branded and unique

– Lays out your stall and clearly shows what you offer


I’m here to tell you that you still need all that (and more) but you won’t get it from a brochure, you’ll get it from a book. Your book. Your very own book.


In addition to the above, a good book will:


– Position you as THE authority and expert the reader should be dealing with

– Create kudos and brand recognition

– Create good will towards you. More people will like you. (And people buy from people they like)

– Have longevity and value. People don’t throw books away

– Be transferable. Who ever recommends a brochure? But they’ll recommend your book

– Make you money, directly and indirectly


A book has value. It contains stories and meaning for the reader in a way that a brochure that just mouths off about how good you are can never do. It’s more truthful. It gives something to the reader, something useful. Instead of you just shouting about yourself, you’re effectively talking to them, about them, about what they want to hear.


As a free give-away to prospects or as a product sold in bookshops and online stores, a great book written by you will do all these things and more.


And the cost?

It’s actually costs less to produce a book than a brochure. Not only that, but if you sell the books, your new ‘brochure’ will actually make you an extra income all of its own.