What is a graphic designer? What are you going to do with one anyhow, and where do you put them?
First of all, you could probably use a graphic designer in your business without even realising it. Anything related to your business that is printed or published online is going to reflect how your business works, how you do business and the personality of your business. Mess that up and you are sending the wrong message. Loud and clear.
A graphic designer will make sure your brand – that is, what people say about you and how people perceive what you do – is consistent. When people view your materials, read your tweets, browse your brochure or click through your website, they are building an image in their head of what your business is like. You want that to be right. You need to appear professional, competent and trustworthy. A graphic designer will make sure that everything you do looks right and looks right without speed bumps or pitfalls to undermine all the hard work.
What are you going to do with one?
Well, you will actually be doing more of what you should be doing anyhow! If it’s your business, you will be taking care of business rather than worry about technical and practical aspects of marketing materials. If you’re an employee, you will be concentrating on what you were hired to do instead of taking on additional tasks – even if your boss thinks you are saving them money. Do what you know, do what you love.
And where do you put them?
Leave them right where they are!
It’s easy to use a graphic designer from time to time, as and when they are needed, so if they work from home they are saving you money (salary, office space, equipment) but are still on call to help your business look great.
Graphic designers are problem solvers. Do you have these problems?
- too few customers
- customers get lost
- people can’t read instructions
- too few people at events
- people don’t understand what you do
- people think you are out of business
- customers phone up with the strangest questions
If these sound like odd things for a visual professional to take on, consider how a logo can make people think of a business, or how a well written and designed brochure can bring people to your door. It’s not just about having a great product or service. People need to hear about it too.
The real question is, why wouldn’t you hire a graphic designer?
My wife is a very patient woman. At the end of my work day I love to show her what I’ve done that day. Yes, I still like Show and Tell.
It might be a new blog post, or a logo design, or a motion graphics video with a new soundtrack. Whatever it is, I like to have something at the end of the day to say I’ve been here. It’s a good feeling.
No Accounting For Taste
Yesterday, at the end of a long work day, my wife decided to do the same. She’s an accountant and showed me a sheet of columns, numbers and abbreviated terms, neatly arranged with a conclusive double underlined figure at the bottom. Very impressive.
Actually, I don’t really know if it’s impressive or not because my understanding of accounting is somewhat limited, despite having taken an accounting course in college. It’s just rows of numbers to me.
For all intents and purposes, that sheet of figures could very easily be reproduced by anyone with a spreadsheet program and ten minutes of free time. Type in the numbers, make them add up (you don’t have to use the formula function if you know what the numbers are meant to be) and make sure they line up properly. Done! But I know that is not really the case. There is a lot of work – and years of training and experience – involved in producing a finance report that goes far beyond what appears on that one final sheet of paper.
Don’t Judge a Lever Arch File by Its Cover
The work I produce can be seen in exactly the same way. Most logos could be reproduced in a matter of minutes. A brochure could be produced very quickly, once you know the layout. Even photographs only take a split second to reproduce. If you look hard enough, you could find online applications to produce most things quickly and cheaply (and they will look like they’ve been done cheaply, too).
It’s the old “my kid could have done that” comments in a modern art gallery. Yes, you (or your children) could reproduce a Mark Rothko, Agnes Martin or Jackson Pollock with a minimum of technical skill.
The difference between an end result that a professional can produce and one that anyone else can produce, is getting to the right answer and avoiding all the wrong ones.
In the case of the balance sheet an accountant produces, it’s not a load of numbers typed into boxes. The real work is knowing where to get the numbers from, what they mean and where to put them.
What Really Goes On
If graphic design ever looks easy, it has achieved its purpose. What you don’t see is the process of understanding the message and the target audience, then creating something that can communicate that message in a way that the audience will understand. You also won’t see all the failed solutions, the sketched ideas and thoughts that didn’t make the final cut.
Design is a constant filtering of the wrong answers, avoiding clichés, double checking of alternate meanings and reading between the lines to make sure communication is clear and concise.
And I’m sure the same goes for your job. Whether you are a chef, recording engineer or roofer, the end result usually looks simple to the untrained eye.
If they only knew!