The definite guide to hiring designers
They pack the right skills
2. Have a strong and diverse portfolio. Ideally, that would include detailed case studies and explanations on how they came up with the winning concept, why the client went with that particular idea and not the other ones instead, and actual photos of the logo in use on merchandise and existing products.
3. Demonstrate a deep understanding of branding. They should have the ability to study the brand, market, and target audience and develop a design that is relevant to all three of them. A great logo is not just pretty. It captures the essence of the brand in an appropriate and marketable way. So great designers need more than just imagination and Adobe Illustrator skills – they also have to step into the role of branding strategists, carefully aligning the visual identity with the market and what the company stands for. Whether or not the designer can think strategically often becomes apparent from the very beginning – a careful researcher will ask many questions and pitch a lot of creative ideas before they even start conceptualizing and sketching out designs. Whether through a questionnaire or an exploratory call, they will make it their job to ask all the right questions.
4. Showcase multiple good initial concepts in case studies. This is big since most novice designers focus on just one good logo concept while going sloppy on the rest. Coming up with multiple fresh and original ideas for each project is grueling, so as designers, we sometimes get tempted to be lazy, especially if we are snowed under and feeling burnt out. But you need 2-3 good initial designs to ensure that you have explored the design process from different angles. When you look at case studies of branding projects, you should be able to find initial concepts that didn’t make it to the top but were no less impressive than the winner. The ability to consistently produce not just one but a few high-quality initial concepts is what sets apart the experts from the crowd. Here is an example from my portfolio of multiple initial logo concepts for the same brand:
5. Be Original. A pro designer is always on the lookout for new ideas. They are always looking to develop their style and process a little further. Copy-paste work is unacceptable – the right designer should guarantee that your new visual identity will be one of a kind. You don’t want to spend a fortune on a bland and generic logo and identity – it will not help create a unique brand.
A good indicator that the designer develops ideas of their own is when they sketch out tons of thumbnail concepts at the beginning of the project. You see the progression of their thought process and how the idea gradually came to life. It is somewhat of an assurance that the ideas are authentic and not just a tweaked version of someone else’s work. Always striving to do original work takes a little bit of dedication and research and, obviously, a level of integrity. This brings us to the next point.
They are reliable
We have all heard the horror story of the freelance designer who suddenly breaks their arm (for the fourth time this year) just before the deadline. They lose interest in the project once they find more exciting projects to pursue. The right creative will always pull through and loyally stick around until the end. You will never be left wondering where they are with the design process – they will always keep you posted on their progress by sending regular updates. And while setbacks and slight delays can be expected, you will always know in advance if they need another day or so to finish off the work.