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.

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