Tag Archives: graphics

The 8 Agreements for Working With a Graphic Design Firm

computer with artistic sketches doodles. Design is... Steve Jobs quote.

There are a variety of reasons why a small business can benefit from working with a graphic design firm. Skilled graphic designers can help your company shine and organize information efficiently and in a graphically appealing manner. Once you have determined the project you are hiring the graphic design firm for the next step is to establish a clear understanding of who is responsible for each element of the project(s)

8 Agreements for Working with a Graphic Design Firm :

Explain Yourself – know what you are trying to communicate, to who (target audience), how (in print, billboards, or online, etc.). If you are not sure about the direction you need to take, you may want to schedule a marketing consultation or graphic design consultation before you begin working with a graphic design firm on a project that is defined ahead of time. Many graphic design firms offer consultations and provide marketing services to help you at this stage.

Be Prepared – Compile all text, copy, logos, photos, graphics, charts, etc. that will be included when the graphic design firm begins the project. If the graphic design firm is responsible for creating the graphics, locating photography, it is a good idea to share your ideas on style, color, size, etc.

Content – Will you be writing the copy for your project? Will a copy writer be providing copy? If you are working with a graphic design firm that also offers copywriting services request a bid for copywriting. Graphic design services do not automatically include copywriting, choosing headlines, compiling captions, etc.

Proofread – Graphic designers are paying attention to fonts, placement, scale, dimensions, color, graphics, photos and flow. Graphic designers are not editors or proofreaders. Sometimes while working through a project they may catch a typo or inconsistent use of text this is a bonus – this is an editing and proofreading task and is ultimately the client’s responsibility. Make sure you always get a proof and proofread it carefully before you go to print or post online… and then have someone else proofread it again.

Don’t Make Assumptions – You know your small business or organization best. It is important to share everything you want to include or depict. Don’t assume the graphic designer knows which are the featured services, products, mission and message you want to convey. A graphic design firm will learn about your company or organization but you know your organization best. Don’t assume it’s obvious what your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) is. Your current website and other marketing materials may not be explaining it as clearly you hope.

Share Ideas – Provide samples of designs you like. The examples can be from companies in your industry or just eye-catching designs with compelling messages that speak to you. This sharing helps designers follow your desired trajectory right away. A professional graphic designer will not copy these ideas, they will use them as inspiration, a jump off point, to build original work for your company.

When you are working with a design firm and leave it entirely up to them without any examples of what you envision you may have a rocky road ahead. If you are someone who is open to innovation and new ideas and you envision working with a graphic design firm as a refreshing exchange of creativity, give them full reign! It could be a great experience for both parties. If ideas go off track however, you will be paying for the revisions to get them back on track.

Don’t take things personally – a professional graphic designer will present new ideas you may not have considered yet. Be open to hear about the concept. Remember you hired the professionals for their expertise. If you really don’t like the new ideas a professional graphic design firm will not force them. Hopefully a compromise can be offered that merges both ideas and a winning design will result. Remember you are working with a design firm who wants to keep you as a customer, they want you to succeed and sometimes that means attempting to break you out of your comfort zone.

Always Do Your Best – Plan ahead for your graphic design and marketing projects. Whether you are looking for a brochure design, annual report design, logo design or website design, etc. allot enough time for all the project stages and mostly for design time. A full campaign will require more time than a corporate brochure. Creativity can not be turned on and off like a computer. A minimum of two weeks is requested. Although most design firms will do their best to fit in rush jobs, keep in mind you may not be getting their best work when creative time is cut short. Also remember to include the time it will take for the next steps of your projects, committee previews,board approval, printing, distribution, coding, etc.

Connection Group is a marketing and graphic design firm located in the Lansing, Michigan area. We work face to face on graphic design projects for small businesses and organizations in Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Mason, DeWitt and Charlotte, Michigan. When working with companies throughout Michigan we like the initial meeting to be at your location to get a feel for your business environment.  Connection Group also provides marketing and graphic design services to companies throughout the United States. Consultations via Skype, phone and email offer opportunities to collaborate, share proofs and meet comfortably without additional travel expenses.

If you feel confident working with a graphic design firm is your next step, connect with us today.

 Stay connected!

Google Images Are Not Free Use… and Other Copyright Issues

Charlotte Area Biking Walking Map - Connection Group
A copyright is a form of Intellectual Property as are patents and trademarks. Copyrights are the most common form of we encounter in everyday business and personal use. We learned about copyright and plagiarism when compiling our first report for grade school. The same rules apply with internet content.  You research multiple sources to gain an understanding of the subject or a clear visual and then interpret it in you own words or creation. When you add a direct quote or paraphrase content, seek permission and include the credit where it occurs and also at the end.

When you use photos or graphics do your best to contact the original creator to get permission for use and always name the artist underneath the image. We often have customers send us images they have found in Google Images. Unless you have permission to use these visuals from the original artist they are not legal for use in your digital or print marketing pieces. I know Google makes it really easy, one search and you find the most awesome artwork ever! But hands off unless you want to get slapped with a copyright infringement.

If hiring a photographer or a graphic design studio to create original images is not in your budget for small projects, there are other options online. Many stock photo websites have visuals, including videos, that companies can purchase for use in their blogs, websites and corporate marketing pieces. The graphics and photos vary in size, resolution, cost, plus have levels of permissions and use. Be sure to read agreements closely prior to purchasing and downloading. Most of the restrictions with stock art is that you do not use it for use on items you will be reselling. For instance an original rendering of an owl you purchase and download can be used on your website, brochure, and all your company brand items however you may not be able to print greeting cards with the same owl on it and offer them for resale. Connection Group holds some subscriptions to a few stock art sites and if you are looking for a particular subject Connection Group may be able to purchase them for your use and save you from the sometimes high cost of subscriptions that you don’t plan to use frequently.

Knowing the high amount of copyright abuse on the website you may want to add the copyright symbol and user agreement on your website. Obtaining copyrights for your original work is easy and inexpensive. Go to copyright.gov and for $35 you can apply for legal ownership of your creations online. Having a copyright on your website or printed piece doesn’t ensure your original work will not be stolen, but it does give you legal grounds to take legal actions if you find someone has infringed on your copyright.

For more answers to common copyright questions this page has a pretty comprehensive list. Otherwise, if you don’t know – don’t do it.

Sustainable Sales Growth

Sustainable Sales Growth image 2010 copyright Connection Group.

Plant - Feed - Harvest

Plant Your Best Seeds

Life coach, Michael Neil states “When you approach sales from a place of joyful service, you realize making offers is like planting a garden. Instead of focusing on what you might get back if you’re lucky, take some time to think about what you would like to grow.”

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Who would I love to serve?  How would I love to serve them?
  • What would be the most powerful, fun, and useful thing I could do for this client or customer?
  • If I dedicated my life to making this person/company’s life better, what is the biggest difference I could make for them in the smallest amount of time?

Feeling Finding Questions help bring answers your prospect may not even know are under the surface. I have often gone into meetings with prospects and existing customers for a specific project and after further discussion we have determined another solution or product would serve their goals better. The following questions were shared with me by Phil Kline who is an expert in Dale Carnegie Sales Training. These questions are more valuable insight are provided in Phil’s book, Customer Driven Sales.


1. What do you like most about your current product (website, logo, brand, marketing efforts)

2. Why is that important to you?

3. What do you dislike most about your present product (website,logo brand…)

4. Why is that a problem for you?

5. If I could change something for you in your next product what would you want me to do differently?

6. Why would that be important to you?

When questions are asked from a place of joyful inquiry, the answers are truthful, creative, fun, and take root. Don’t skip the ‘Why’ questions! As your prospect digs deep to answer the ‘why’ the true reason behind the need can be discovered.

Harvest Low-Hanging Fruit

Often the best sale to make is going to existing clients and customers. When working with customers for a long time is is easy to get into ruts. Projects can flow well, which is always a blessing but are we doing the best we can or are we staying safe? Especially with marketing and graphic design it is important to always look at new ways of approaching concepts. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water and completely reinvent everything. Sometimes just a change in logo placement or color can update a Web site or print marketing piece. Other times digging deep into the entire brand and relating it to the business as it is today is needed. If you take the time to  ask questions to find the differences your customer would love to make and the way they would most like to make them, you can deliver creative solutions that help your customer relationship and their business flourish.

Happy seed planting and remember to appreciate the abundance of the harvest.

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