009. How to Talk About your Brand to a Designer


We are all deeply connected to brands.


Of course we feel this connection to our own brand, but we also can connect equally with other brands.


We are in an age of brand loyalty. I know this personally as a consumer, I have a handful of clothiers I buy from, one kombucha brand I drink, and don’t get me started on where all my tech loyalties lie.


We all feel these deep connection and we feel like we know the brand inside out, like a best friend. But how do we communicate that effectively? Most of us aren’t professional copywriters (although I do implore you to practice) so how are we meant to talk to designers about the feeling of our brand and what we want it to look like?


From a designers perspective we want to make sure your vision is respected and want to create the best design solution for your brand.


But there’s a lot that can go awry when we’re not communicating effectively.


When we are misinterpreting information it can waste our most important asset, time. So what can we do to communicate effectively? I’m going to split this advice up into two categories; the brief and the feedback.


First is the brief.



The Brief



01. Make Sure you Know your Brand.


You may think you know your brand, but do you really?


A good way of finding out whether you know as much about your brand as you think you do, is to write it all down or discuss it with a friend. Write down everything you know about your brand, and if you see any holes, fill them in. You may discover that your target audience is too broad or you want to add more brand values. Writing it all down is a great place to have it all in one spot to see what you are working with.


Alternatively you could discuss it with a friend. Tell them that you’re trying to define your brand, and by discussing questions, it will solidify your brand even further.


I would suggest doing this even if you have a business plan or other brand documents. I’ve definitely had conversations with clients mid-project that has given them an epiphany about their brand or made them question a certain portion of their brand.


I have a free brand questionnaire you can fill out if you prefer specific prompts to fill in. You can download that here.






02. Feeling vs. Visuals.


Often times clients can sway one side or the other when discussing their brand visually for the first time; feeling or visuals.


If you find that you are over explaining one of these two, try balance it out by discussing the other.


It’s great that you want your brand to visually center around boho and handmade but how do you envision that to look like. Now this is always going to end up being a discussion.


You may think that the best way to visually show this is through handwritten type. Your designer may suggest that your logo should be a serif with paint brush accents to allude to a handmade craft while keeping your brand professional and respectable.


This will always start a conversation, but this conversation will save time in the long run.





03. Be Specific. Be Open.


As a client try to be as specific as possible, and have those thoughts backed up. Try adding some critical thought to your brand. Why don’t you want a certain colour associated to your brand? Any answer is valid.


Your designer needs to know why to be able to work around it and work with it. But it’s always a give and take, and it’s two sides discussing what the best thing for this brand is.  



The Feedback




1. Don't Repeat, Reword.


When giving feedback a few words will often pop up in a project over and over. It might be ‘fun’, ‘poppy’, ‘bold’ or ‘simple’. When describing our brand we can often fall back on our brand values when giving feedback.


When you receive a design and you want it to be more fun, you would usually say ‘make it more fun’. But in the design world that could mean a plethora of things like: make the colours brighter, add a clown nose to the logo, add a fun pattern.


Now it’s fine after the first round of design to be a little more vague about feedback, but if that’s the feedback again in round 2 or 3 then you need to get more specific. What about this design isn’t matching your initial vision, is it the colours? Patterns? Shapes? Again, try to get as specific as possible, and find new ways to articulate your vision if you are finding it difficult to communicate.





2. Review Your Own Feedback.


Like most things, you should always draft and review your own feedback. As a designer, I suggest writing feedback in the morning or night and then reviewing it again half a day later.


Write down all your initial ideas and reactions when seeing the presented designs, but then let the designs sit with you and revisit them multiple times. Then you can add more thoughts to your feedback when you have more time with the design.


Review all your feedback from the shoes of your designer. Would this feedback make sense to you? Do you need to add any further clarifications or amendments?


Reviewing your feedback multiple times to keep communication and your opinions clear.





3. Show Visuals if you Need to.


I’ve had clients know that they don’t have the ability to express in word what they are trying to communicate. Therefore they sourced images or played with colours to accurately show me what they want.


You could even refer back to the initial inspiration your design has discussed with you. If you prefer the method or composition from one of those pieces mention it in your feedback.


Designers would always prefer clear feedback, and if that includes imagery, perfect!


Of course this is a two way street and designers need to learn how to communicate with clients as well. Especially coming straight out of school it can be difficult to describe design concepts without using design lingo. So as a client don’t be afraid to ask questions and designers need to be answering them efficiently.


Again, if you need an outline for your initial design brief I have a free downloadable PDF available here.


Feel free to get in touch via my contact page or directly through email at maisieheatherdesign@gmail.com

- Maisie MacDonald, Creative Director, Maisie Heather Studio.