How to Give Feedback to Your Designer

Some people work with designers once in a lifetime and others on a regular basis. We ask for feedback on every single brand design, Squarespace site and social media post that goes out the door. We love feedback - but we love constructive feedback. Needless to say, we think we've learned a thing or two about feedback with all the different deliverables we send out. We want to give you some simple tips and tricks. We can't speak for all designers but we can tell you what we think is super helpful.

step 1: figure out what you want

For starters, we recommend (before even contacting a designer) you organize your thoughts and truly figure out what it is you're wanting. It's nearly impossible to get what you need from a designer when you yourself don't have a clear vision.  You don't have to have every single last detail figured out but you do need to figure out "the gist".  We call this, the discovery phase. You have to go through the discovery phase on your own.  If you do your homework (aka the discovery phase) up front the rest of the process moves so much more smoothly.

But why can't the discovery phase happen while we build a brand together?

Because (quite frankly) it's a waste of time. Don't get us wrong, there is a little discovery that happens as we build but if we go through 3 rounds of logo concepts and still haven't got to anything you like, more than likely there is a disconnect somewhere. If you can't tell a designer that you want light, airy and botanical and they have to figure that out through 3 rounds of revisions we are not being efficient. We have a motto around here (that's actually a pretty common motto) - "Work smarter, not harder."  So step number one to providing killer feedback: be prepared and have an idea of what you want before even going to a designer and asking them to make it come to life.

Once you have a clear vision it's very important to share it with your designer in a way that they can easily understand.

We like to collect as much information as we can up front by sending out a questionnaire, and having our clients create a Pinterest board full of images, patterns, textures, and colors that truly evoke the mood of their brand.  For example... if your brand was a room, what would that room look like? That's the kind of visual inspiration you should be pinning. We don't want to be inspired by other designers branding that you pin. We want to be inspired by what you think your brand would dress like or the perfect studio space it would live in.

Now, some designers have stopped asking clients to build Pinterest boards. Saying that it integrates them into the process too much or that it doesn't work well because clients are pinning the right things. Which, trust us, we've contemplated many of times eliminating it from our own process. But, the bottom line, it has works for us!

Once we get your Pinterest board and questionnaire,  we then provide our initial deliverables and we request feedback on those items. Here's some simple do's and don'ts when it comes to your response.

 

do's and don'ts of feedback

 

Do be prepared to answer why.

If you do or don't like something you have to be able to answer WHY. Do you like a certain logo concept, but maybe not the typeface? Or is it the shape you dislike? Or perhaps the feel and style is just off. Provide details and guidance. This helps to understand your likes and dislikes, and the reasoning behind them. This is tough because sometimes you can look at something and not know exactly why you do or don't like it. We're still going to ask you to dig deep and try to figure it out. Of course, it's not the end of the world if you can't answer why but it certainly is helpful.

Don't be too vague.

Effective communication is crucial when working with a designer. If you simply say "I don't like this" - that isn't enough. Which goes back to to our last point - why.

Do have trust.

You are hiring a designer for a reason—talent, experience, portfolio, style, etc. Most people struggle to see the "bigger picture" for their brands. We see big picture and every minor detail. We won't speak for all designers but our best products come from initial clear visions and the client giving us a lot of freedom to use our creativity - perhaps even push the boundaries a little bit because it's clear that they trust us.

Do break it down.

Break down your feedback into parts. Look at logos, copy, headlines, typography, individual images, colors, etc. and figure out what you like and what you don't like. You might not love the logo but you do love one of the fonts used in it.  You might like 4 of the 6 different colors used. Be able to breakdown what you like and don't like into different parts. We find this super helpful to making sure our next round is more "spot on".

Don't micromanage and over-control.

Your brand is your baby but micromanaging is not the answer. Some of the most frustrating pieces of work come from those projects that were micromanaged - where the project no longer becomes our own. Where we become just a tool to replicate an idea in someone's head. Yuck. Pewy. Not our gig. And, we're guessing that's not what you really want either.

Do give creative freedom.

Ok, so many this one is a lot like "do have trust".  But do you see a theme here? Trust who you are hiring. Give them freedom to create and build and let their minds run wild with creativity. Provide an initial vision and ideas and then give the designer free reign - oh the possibilities! 

Don't forget to have fun.

Working with a designer should be fun—don't forget that. If you're not having fun, take a look at the above dos and don't and see if there's anything you can do to fix it. Most of all - communicate! Feedback is all about quality communication.