You’ve hired a designer to bring your promotion to life. But as the project progresses something’s not quite right. Discussing creative projects can be tough. It’s easy to use subjective phrases such as “I like this” or “It’s not working for me” or “I’m not feeling it.” How can you work with a graphic designer to get a powerful promotion? Follow these tips to get amazing results from your graphic designer.

Creative Freedom vs Creative Brief

Some people think the designer needs to have creative freedom and are afraid of limiting ideas, but often designers are more creative when there are boundaries and structure. And when those boundaries are strategic, the results can be so much more effective in achieving your goals.

To give your project some structure from the very beginning, list out what you need from it. This often results in something called a creative brief. These can range from multi-page in-depth documents to simple one-page bullet listings. The best creative briefs include:

    • Target Audience
      What demographic and or psychographic is this project trying to reach?
    • Goal of Project
      Are you looking for more deposits? Vehicle loans? Increase in brand awareness?
    • Style and Tone
      If you have a branding or style guide, this is the time to share it (if you don’t, read this). And if you know you want it to look a certain way, such as trendy and fun or corporate and modern, please tell your designer!
    • Where the Visuals Will Be Used
      Will this be in a printed magazine? Is this for branch posters? Maybe an email header? The medium makes all the difference in how a designer approaches the project.
    • Specifications
      List out the details such as size, black and white or color, print or digital, file format needed, etc
    • Deadline
      So important for everyone to understand the project’s timeline, especially if there is a hard date involved, such as an event.

You can also include other helpful information like:

    • Competitors
      Knowing who else is in your space helps the designer to create something which stands apart from the crowd while looking appropriate to the industry
    • Key Stakeholders
      Maybe you need the designer to know your board of directors will be reviewing this project. Or your compliance officer needs to review it at a certain stage in the process.

Provide Examples

Have you seen a style or design that’s inspired you for this project? Send it along to your designer! It’s so much easier to just show what you might have in mind rather than try to explain it or expecting the designer to read minds. There’s truth in that saying “a picture is worth a thousand words!” Good designers know how to take those examples and design something for your project which has that style but feels fresh and created just for you.

Don’t Expect the First Round of Designs To Nail It

Design is a process. Revising, exploring, tweaking, all work together to refine the design. And especially if this project is the first time you’ve worked with this designer, it might take a few rounds of revisions to learn how to best communicate ideas and expectations between each other. But once you find a designer you click with, often projects take less and less time to get off the ground. 

Be Specific in Your Feedback, But Not Controlling

So you’ve seen the first design and it doesn’t quite meet your expectations. How do you let the designer know? Do you have to worry about hurting their feelings? Do you need to tell them exactly what to do?

Side Note: If you have a designer who is emotionally attached to their designs and ‘gets their feelings hurt’, find yourself another designer. Good graphic designers know the work needs to meet a business goal, first and foremost. If their emotional well-being is tied to your response, they have some deeper issues. Creativity can certainly be an outlet for personal expression, but that type of creativity needs to happen in a personal space, not in a professional space. OK – so now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s look at what type of feedback is most helpful.

Start with the parameters listed in the creative brief. Does the design address those parameters? If not, list which ones and why you think the design isn’t matching up. For instance, maybe the design misses the target audience or the style doesn’t match your branding.

As you give feedback, avoid being vague, but don’t be controlling. We often see people who have a hard time articulating their design concerns go from one extreme (vague) to another (controlling) Here are some examples along with helpful variations:


I don’t like that photo

Just Right

The photo doesn’t match our branding style, which is formal and traditional . This photo is too relaxed and modern.


Maybe move that element to the left, then move the logo to the center and make it larger. Also use a starburst behind the word “special” and make it red.

Just Right

The emphasis needs to be on our promotional price first, our logo second.


I don’t like the splashy feel

Just Right

The target audience is an older crowd – in their 70s and 80s. This look is better suited to a younger audience.

One last tip for feedback: avoid using words and phrases which reflect a subjective opinion such as “I don’t like this” or “It’s not working for me”. Instead make it about the project’s goals and how the target audience would respond to it.

See The Forest, Not The Trees

It’s easy to get lost in the details and not see the forest for the trees. Remember how this project fits into your overall strategy. Know what elements will have the most impact on your goal, then keep moving. For instance, will fussing over a photograph’s composition bring you more sales? Is a 10% increase in your logo going to convert customers? Your current project is likely one small puzzle piece to a larger marketing and advertising strategy. It’s often more important to get the piece working well enough to meet the project’s goals than to agonize over finding just the right stock photo or font choice.

Just keep your goals in mind, your branding as your foundation, and your designer will be a happy, willing partner as you create amazing results together!