How to commission a graphic designer


The investment you make in the design of your brand and brand products is an important one. If you don’t think you’ll be able to achieve what a designer can, you need to hire one.

How will you know which designer is right? Or how much is the right price?

I’m here to hopefully debug that info for you in this post.

Whatever stage you’re coming in at, be it a full rebrand, or a marketing piece — you need to be clear about what you need. With that, the designer will be able to let you know;

  • if they’re right for the job (sometimes the specialism isn’t the right one for the designer you’ve chosen, so it’s good to know early on if that’s the case)
  • what direction to go in (almost always the direction can change, but having a designer by your side will help you navigate those changes)

A designer will need to get to know your company, your tone of voice, your culture and where you’ve come from. We need to know about your direction, market and competitors. This information helps us get to grips with what you ‘look like’.

Be aware of your own vision

Having a clear view of what you want to achieve is so important, knowing what you want will help give your designer direction. That direction may alter and fluctuate as the project progresses — but that’s what the designer is there for, they will help guide you through.

The right designer

Hiring the right designer is one of the most overlooked things, sometimes designers ‘unicorn’ they can be specialists in graphic design and web for instance, but make sure they have the necessary skills for your project.

I specialise in brand and marketing graphic design — I don’t do web design or UX, those two I leave to people that can do them well. I appreciate all design, but am passionate about the brand and marketing side, this is where my background and experience have led me.

Does the designer have the demonstrable experience? Have they worked in similar industries? (although this is nice, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker — a designer that hasn’t may bring fresh observations to the project).

Other things to consider outside of the more practical aspects are how you feel about working with this person. Early communications may make you feel one way or the other about them and it may or may not be a good fit. This is important and something I consider with each project I take on.

Communication is key with all relationships.

The brief

A good brief is like gold dust to a designer, knowing how to communicate that is paramount. The more thought you put into how you communicate what you need, the better the journey and end result.

Be careful not to over-brief though, good communication between the people involved will ensure you get what you need. Keep it simple.

A brief look at briefs 👖

What will a designer need from you?

Company, tone of voice, where you’ve come from.

What the job will entail.

What’s happening in your market, at the moment and who your target audience and competition are.

Things like sizings, format, any existing company style design guidelines.

When you need the work done by.

Be honest about this, if it’s something that isn’t feasible a good designer will discuss options with you.

Next steps

My way of working is to communicate when necessary and work on projects as a team — including all the relevant people in to any discussions. It’s important to not just leave the designer to it, this can lead to the project going in directions you don’t want.

Think of it like working with colleagues, each person has their specific role, and if the communication is good it runs like a well oiled machine.

This is how to manage a designer as things progress through the project — having project milestones can also help to keep things on track.

Having clear steps definitely helps define the direction.


One thing I learned early on in my freelance career, communication is key with all relationships — if you can maintain good comms from beginning to end the project with your chosen designer will be easier to navigate.

These tips will hopefully help you find and build a good relationship with a designer that fits your needs but if you want more info or are looking for a designer with my skills, drop me a line, I’d love to chat.

Hello, I’m Nik, I specialise in Marketing & Brand Design for start-ups and small businesses. I also enjoy writing about authenticity, emotional + experience based thoughts and positive outcomes.

Follow me on Twitter and connect on Linkedin.

Originally published April 2020 on helloimnik.

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