Does your branding and website got you down? Graphics feeling a little more 1991 than 2021?Your headshot looks like it was taken on the iPhone 1 circa whenever the first iPhone came out? And your website, well... it's cute... if you're three year old made it.
And all that being said, you don't the have time, the patience or the know-how to fix it?
Before you burn all of your marketing materials, chuck your laptop out of your window and close up shop, you need to get yourself a designer. And not just any old "designer"... a branding and web designer.
Can I start by saying that branding and web design is hard!
Before you get down on yourself, let me tell you how many people I meet that have spent years upon years in a branding mish-mash of almost-but-not-even-close DIY disasters that look like their 40 year-olds made them... when they were 4.
And to be completely honest, some of my clients even had their branding and websites designed by designers.
Um... yeah. (Crickets... )We won't go there...
Before we get into how to find a good designer, and because branding is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR BUSINESS, lets have a quick review of what branding is and what it is not.
What is branding?
If you put 100 business owners in a room, 99 of them will talk about branding in vague terms like a logo, business cards and product packaging, and don't really understand what goes into building a good branding package. 100% of them will agree that solid branding is a necessity. And throw the topic of building a website in the mix and you will get 100 different answers.
Most people think that branding is a nice logo, a website and all of the marketing collateral that a business uses to promote their product or service. Yes, those are a part of it, but only one teeny-tiny fraction of the equation.
"A brand is not a product, a promise or a feeling. A brand is the sum of all the experiences you have with a company."
Branding is the combination of a company's personality, voice, values, visuals, customer experiences and positioning that come together in perfect harmony to create a cohesive and consistent experience. It's the culmination of tangible items (like a product or service), intangible items (like brand personality and customer perception) and your business or brand voice that come together to create a unique experience.
So, how do you find a good designer?
Branding and website design are not a one-size-fits-all experience.
A good designer will ask you questions to get to know you and your business and be able to explain the process, their services and what you can expect from them clearly.
There are a ton of different types of designers and design companies out there, so understanding what you are looking for can help you to narrow down the right type of designer for you, your business and your budget. Here are a few tips to help you with your search.
1. SET A BUDGET. If you haven't thought about how much you're willing to spend on branding and web design, now is the time to clarify your budget. There is no such thing as an "industry standard" and designers can vary in cost and the level of design you are looking to achieve. Once you have established a budget, you can start considering the kinds of designers that may be a fit for you.
2. WHAT KIND OF DESIGNER DO YOU WANT? Branding and web designers come in all different shapes and sizes, so I promise you that you can find a designer that is right for you, you just need to know what you're looking for.
i. The Freelancer: Freelance designers are independent designers running their own small businesses and can vary in capabilities. They tend to be the least expensive option when it comes to branding and web design and a majority of them work within very specific niches. A good freelance designer is communicative, accommodating and will be more flexible with working around your turnaround times. As they tend to be a one-man (or woman) show, the tend to work on a smaller number of projects at a time, meaning you are getting a more personal and focused experience, but depending on how in-demand they are, you may have to wait to start your project.
ii. The Design Agency: Many design agencies that focus primarily on branding and web design consist of small to medium sized teams, each member with different specialties, that work collectively on client projects. Because you are paying for multiple designers that are working on your project, they tend to be more expensive than working with a freelance designer. Like freelancers, a good design agency will offer you good communication, customization and quick turnaround times, however because they tend to work on numerous projects at a time, you may not get as intimate of an experience as you would working with a freelance designer.
iii. The Full-Service Agency: As the name implies, a full-service agency does it all. They are going to be the most expensive option, sometimes running up to $500k to $1mil, however you get a super-team of hyper-focused designers who specialize in specific areas of branding and web design. Full-service agencies tend to be a good option for larger businesses that require not only branding and a robust website, but will also require on-going assistance in areas like marketing and advertising.
3. CAN THEY EXPLAIN THE PROCESS? Many aspects of web design and branding can be hard to understand if you aren't familiar with the industry. A good designer will have no problem sitting down with you to understand exactly what your needs are and explain all the ins and outs of the process. They should be able to explain to in detail what they are going to do, why they are going to do it and how it will be beneficial to your business. If a designer can't explain what they do or why they are doing it, that could be an indicator that you should be cautious moving forward. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all branding or web design package and a good designer needs to take the steps to understand your needs and explain the steps they will take to get you from point A to point Z.
4. CYBER-STALK THEM. Before you sign on the dotted line with any designer, you have my permission to cyber-stalk, I mean "research" them... so please take advantage. Some things to think about when your going all 007...
Do they have a website?
Is it up to date, looks great on your desktop, laptop, tablet and iphone?
Does it have clean, easy-to-read fonts, beautiful photos and clear information?
Do they have recent projects or a portfolio of their work?
Are there testimonials from past clients?
Are their pricing and packages clearly outlined for you to understand exactly what you're getting?
Do they have a social media account? Are they posting regularly and relevantly?
Do they follow their own branding advice?
Do they offer a complimentary consultation or discovery call to get more information before signing a contract?5. DO THEY ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS? Finding out about the designers you are considering is only half the battle. As much as you want to know about them... you want to know what they want to know about you... Say that five times fast. But seriously, do they ask the questions that they should be asking to find out everything about you and your business so they can tailor your branding and website to you.
Some questions they should be asking you:
1. What do you feel like you are lacking in your branding or website?
2. Do you have budget for your project?
3. What is your timeline for your project?
4. What results are you looking for in a branding or web design project?
5. What are your biggest concerns in hiring a brand or web designer?
6. Describe your company. Your elevator pitch?
7. What is your company's mission and vision?
8. Who is your ideal client(s)? Ideal target market?
9. Who is your competition? Do you have a favorite? What do you admire most about them?
12. Who do you want to be seen as in your market?
A good branding expert will ask you the questions that allow them to get a feel for who you are, what your business does and what you need.
6. DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS IN PLACE? Tools are both helpful and necessary when working with a designer. Some tools your designer should have in place are:
A clear process set in place prior to starting your project.
Agreements/Contracts that both parties sign.
Payment options and plans with dates clarified prior to project start.
A project management system like Asana to keep transparency and the project on time.
An easy and reliable way to reach them on working/business days.
A Welcome or Getting Started packet to give you an outline of your project and what to expect.
A Branding Guide to be sent to you upon completion of the project.
A method to help you get the right tools in place to help you set your business up right (this is kinda a biggie!)
7. DO YOU CONNECT? You know that feeling when you just get someone and they get you and you and you just... connect? They get you excited and pumped up at the topic of discussion and you feel like you've known them for years but it's really been 2 minutes?
You should have that feeling with your designer.
The perfect designer for you should be just as excited about you and your business as you are. They should want to know everything about you, be enthusiastic to get started and already have thoughts and ideas wheeling through their mind about how amazing they want to make your brand.
This is a go-with-your-gut one, but if you have done your research and had the conversations, this one should be easy... you should just know.
When it comes right down to it—your brand is a complete reflection of your company. It is a vital piece of your small business success, and worth the time, attention and research it takes to be fully confidence you have made the best choice for your branding and website project.
"Define what your brand stands for, it's core values and tone of voice, and then communicate it consistently in those terms day after day."
Want to learn more about KAM Design Studio? Click the here to learn more about me, the services I offer and how I can help you to build the brand and website of your dreams.