Our “Onboarding” blog series are specifically written for Studio Gail clients, but we don’t mind if anyone wants to take a peek to get a glimpse into the experience with us.
Consider this your guide for an effective collaboration.
Providing feedback to your designer is a vital part of the creative process that ensures your brand aligns with your vision. In this article, we’ll explore some essential do’s and don’ts to help you provide constructive feedback that fosters collaboration and brings your brand to life.
1. Keep Your Audience In Mind
When providing feedback on your deliverables, it’s important that first and foremost, you keep your audience top of mind. Instead of explaining what you like and don’t like, look at the designs from your ideal clients’ eyes. What would they think about the font choice? The illustrative elements? The color palette? The brand collateral? Let us know if something may not appeal to your audience and provide some insight into why you think that.
❌ DON’T: “I don’t like the typeface.”
? DO: “I am concerned that the typeface may be too fun and quirky for my older, professional audience. Maybe a more sophisticated font would appeal more to this demographic. What do you think?”
In order for your designer to make relevant changes, they need to know what you don’t like and why you don’t like it. Provide reasoning for every statement you make and suggest changes that you would like to see.
Remember, we choose everything for a reason, based in a deep understanding of what will resonate with your target audience and what will position you strategically in your industry, meaning the design is much more than your personal preference.
Chances are, you chose us for a reason. Whether you were obsessed with our portfolio or valued our expertise; you chose us because we know a few things that you don’t when it comes to design. It’s important that you value our knowledge, collaboratively ask for our feedback, and to listen to our insight.
Inevitably, there will likely be some sort of revision or changes that need to be made. If you spot a problem or are concerned with certain elements, we want to know about them! Instead of sending us a to-do list of changes to make, share your concerns and let us come up with a solution to present to you.
“I think it looks really uncreative and I’m really disappointed…”
“I can see that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into this design and I am very appreciative of that. However, I think I had some different ideas in mind such as ….”
We are humans that have feelings too! We have probably spent hours and hours perfecting the design and it becoming a piece of work that we are really proud of. We aren’t afraid of refining things to feel right; remember, the creative process is just that — a process!
In this situation, we can send over a few more examples of designs you like and find a solution based on what feels off. Usually, situations like this are a result of the client being unsure of what they want or not being clear enough. Not to worry, clarity and kindness go a long way.
3. Ask Questions
As your designer, it is our job to make sure you feel confident with the choices being made and we are happy to answer any questions you have for us throughout the process. Asking questions creates dialogue and shows us that you value our opinion. Asking thoughtful questions also allows us to further explain the head space behind why we made the decisions that we made, which often leads to an overall greater understanding and appreciation of the work.
“I don’t like the terracotta color you used.”
“I love the sage color you used. I’m not quite sure about the terracotta color yet – What were your thoughts behind choosing that color? “
Designers are both strategists and artists, and every visual element has intention behind it. Engaging in conversation can offer new perspectives and a greater appreciation for the work.
4. Remember Why You Hired Us
Throughout the feedback phase, it’s important to remember why you hired your designer in the first place. Recognize their expertise and approach the conversation with respect, acknowledging that they know what works and what doesn’t.
Professional designers may not respond well to what we call “pixel pusher” commands — “make it bigger” , “move this over”, or “add a line here”. While these statement may all be well intended comments, there’s a big chance we didn’t do things that way in the first place for a reason. We are all about bringing your vision to life and do want to hear your suggestions. But please approach these conversations with a respect for our expertise, as we respect yours.
“can you please move this piece of text underneath and perhaps center it and maybe also add a little line here”
“I’m really liking the direction so far! Are there perhaps some changes to the primary logo that we could make so that it appears a little more centrally aligned? I would maybe also like to see a little more detail if possible”
Dictating your changes to your designer isn’t the most constructive way to get your vision across. Remember that your designer is the expert and they know what works and what doesn’t, so listen to them and trust their decisions.
*You may feel the urge to draw the logo yourself or create it in an app like Canva and then send it over to us. Please don’t do this. Designers are hired for our ability to come up with creative solutions, not just to recreate the design that you have created that probably doesn’t follow a lot of design principles or follows the strategy of your brand.
5. Remember, We Can’t Read Your Mind
This is the perfect time to mention a huge reminder that many people forget… we can’t read your mind.
If you find yourself in the design phase feeling like SO much of what you want is missing, ask yourself real quick: did you communicate all of that to us to begin with? Clearly communicate your expectations and desires from the beginning.
“there’s nowhere on the home page that mentions my process, please add” or “add a section on my services page for my travel dates”
“Thank you so much, I am loving these web pages so far! The services page has such a great flow to it, i am now wondering if we should add a section about my travel dates?” or “I am so sorry I forgot to mention this before, but I would love a section on my website to show my travel dates! I was thinking the services page might be a good spot, what do you think?”
Most of the time, that “pixel pusher” language comes out when a client isn’t clear enough in the beginning. Feedback and refinements are for fine tuning an already complete design, not for giving details on what you wanted in the first place. We always give space in your questionnaires to give ample details, so please take advantage of it!
6. Acknowledge Differences in Understanding
Another common obstacle we see come up in the design phase is over-reliance on phrases like “modern”, “timeless”, “romantic” and so on. We love these words, and use them often in brand strategy and in design conversations. However, there can be a difference of understanding that might make things tricky. To avoid miscommunication, we ask our clients to give specific inspiration in their Pinterest board curation. We do our best to clarify all terms when going through the creative direction phase and always lean towards over communication.
“Can I see something more modern?”
“Could I possibly see a more modern design? I have sent over a few examples of what I mean by this – perhaps a thinner font and a simpler layout?”
What modern means to you might be something totally different to us. The same goes for any adjective that you use. You need to tell your designer exactly what you mean to ensure the best results for your vision.
7. Be Honest, Be Respectful
Trust us when we say that as your designers, it is SO important to us that you love your project. We want you to walk away from our time together feeling confident and excited about your new branding. If you don’t feel confident about an aspect of your branding, that’s perfectly okay! Just let us know while we still have time to fix it.
With that being said, don’t forget that we are people, too, and that creativity is deeply personal. We put our heart and soul into each and every project. Putting our work out for feedback is always a vulnerable and scary process. So please, be honest. But don’t forget to be kind, too!
“This is just missing the mark for me.” or “I don’t really love it, can we restart?”
“Thank you so much for all of your hard work! The color palette is perfect and I love the illustration. I am not sure if the logo is the best fit for the audience I am looking to attract. Could we set up a time to talk through a solution?”
In general, “let’s restart” is not a phrase we like to hear. Not just because of the time we’ve already invested, but because it is a message to us that you don’t know how (or don’t feel comfortable) to tell us where things feel off.
Remember, while we are artists, we are not the art itself. Respect is the standard, but you won’t hurt our feelings by saying that something needs to be refined. We find that in most cases, one thing feeling “off” can instigate feelings of insecurity, doubt, and fear — which makes the idea of a restart sound like an easy fix.
Let’s lean into the discomfort. We aren’t afraid of your honesty, and we will respect your vision. There is always a way to reach compromise, but we must come together in honesty and respect to do so.
At the end of the day, branding is all about alignment, not perfection.
Ask yourself, does this FEEL like what i want my brand to feel like? Does this align with how my audience sees me?
Remember – we are here to help.
If you ever feel stuck when sharing feedback, please let us know. We are here to help and are happy to walk you through any concerns you might have along the way.