What Is a Graphic Designer?

This is probably not something you’ve lain awake pondering (unless you’re a graphic designer yourself: hi!), but what, exactly, is a graphic designer? Is a graphic designer a fancy word for an artist? Are we just typography geeks and colour nerds? Do we have training?

“What does a graphic designer do?”

Graphic designers take strategies, concepts, words, sounds, and experiences and translate them into visual messages.

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It’s about understanding the customer you’re trying to attract and the business you’re selling and making sure the two fit together.

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Even though we’re called “graphic” designers, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll forsake the word to use only images. I’ll use whichever one I feel will communicate the message most effectively and immediately.

Designer Mark Busse says,

“Our professional practice revolves around a message-driven design discipline that involves research, learning, concept development, structuring and presentation of messages designed to facilitate better understanding within an audience.”

Which is an accurate list of what goes into crafting any design piece.

What do we do? We make your message attractive to your customers.

“So you’re an artist?”

Do we do art? Yes. Are we artists? No. Artists create to make people feel or to share pieces of themselves. Designers create to communicate a message. Graphic designers use art as part of their arsenal, but not to the same purposes.

“So what ARE you then?”

We’re creative geniuses and problem-solving monsters. We’re typography geeks and colour nerds and line lovers. We adore negative space as much as positive spaces and look for subliminal (or clever) messages from other designers. We’re the weirdos who fast-forward through television shows for the commercials, and get excited when we some big company reveals their new logo.

Most of us have training of some form or another (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Diploma of Design, as well as various courses in art, not quite adding up to any kind of designation).

There’s a movement within the design community to forego “graphic” in our titles for a more accurate “communication”, defining it like so:

“Communication design is a message-driven design discipline that involves the structuring and presentation of verbal and visual content to enable better understanding among people.” (Errol Saldanha)

Whatever we call ourselves, we’re interested in communicating your message to your customers.

Let me help you reach your customers.

Objections to Design #4 (Budget Design)

“Getting a logo online is so much cheaper!.” (AKA: I’m going with Fiverr/Elance/99designs, etc.”)

Cost is always a hot button for people, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money. Some companies end up with fantastic results from whichever online service they’ve used. That’s not always the case: most often, you get what you pay for.

One detriment to branding with an online service is that they generally don’t take the business as a whole into consideration. They’re not going to ask the questions to figure out who your business is, what separates it from your competitors, and who your clients are (among other questions!). These questions are key to getting a design that attracts your key market instead of just a logo that looks good.

Another problem is the lack of communication. I’m available to chat if you have problems, questions, or concerns with drafts and concepts. Most logo services are harder to communicate with.

This particular objection is very closely tied in with:

“My brother’s sister-in-law can do it for free.” (AKA: Keeping it in the family.”)

While free is good for your business’s pocketbook right now, do you have time to work with your relative’s (or friend’s) schedule? Do you feel comfortable telling your family or friends that you’re not happy with their work? (It’s a double-whammy of “hard to reject” going on: family and free!)

Sometimes, if someone is doing your design as a favour, you have to work within their schedule. It might take longer, since you’re not their priority and they don’t necessarily have a reason to do their best work (besides facing you at the next family reunion, of course!). Getting a design right takes time and many iterations.

If you’re not able to tell your designer that you don’t like the ideas they’ve come up with, then you won’t get the best outcome. Design is really a 2-way process.

If you want to impress your customers from the beginning, hire someone who will take the time to represent your best face to your customers: get in touch with me!

Objections to Design #3 (Priorities)

“Design is expensive.” (AKA: “Design isn’t my priority right now.”)

Design is the first impression your clients receive. It’s something that represents the core of your business. If you feel that is something that doesn’t warrant consideration, and you’re happy with what you’ve got, then good on you. If you’re looking to impress your leads with professional and consistent visuals, then you may want to consider hiring a professional.

Compare your brand to your competitors and pretend you’re a first-time client: would you hire yourself? Without a good first impression, you have to work that much harder to grow the same client-base. Having a design to match the quality of your product is an investment.

If you want to impress your customers from the beginning, hire someone who will take the time to represent your best face to your customers: get in touch with me!

Objections to Design #2 (You Yourself)

“No one can understand my business like me, so a graphic designer could never properly represent my business.”

You’re not looking for someone to run your business, but to communicate it to your market. I can do that. Professional designers are trained to dig into your business to find out what you’re all about, and then look at you from your client’s perspective.

I spend quite a bit of time learning about your business before I ever set pen to paper (or mouse pointer to screen), and then I try to provide an outside perspective that will most closely represent your customer’s experience.

I am trained to listen to your desires and ask the right questions to determine your NEEDS. Even though you know your business inside out (and I probably never will), your customers don’t. Sometimes an outside perspective will help you see the business from your customers’ perspective, enhancing the customer experience.

If you want to spend more time working on growing your business and to hire someone who will take the time to learn about what you want to represent to your customers, get in touch.

Objections to Design #1 (Me Myself)

“I’m creative! I can do it myself.”

While it’s my firm belief that everyone is creative, there are several reasons why hiring someone else could be better.

1. It’s good to have an outside perspective, a second opinion, or a consumer’s viewpoint.
2. You are busy doing what you’re best at: running and growing your business. Proper design requires many iterations and a fair amount of thought time.
3. Creativity is one aspect of what goes into design, but do you also have the technical skills and know-how to implement and disseminate your idea? Can you take your sketch and make it into a logo? Can you explain why you want to use certain colours? How to prepare the files for your printers or web designers? The benefits of vector over raster (or vice-versa)? RGB vs CMYK?

If you have the know-how, skills, time, and second opinions, then by all means, what are you doing here? Go design! If not, give me a call.