Let’s face it, designers can be wacky. As a meeting planner, you’ve probably encountered your fair share of eccentric, opinionated, and disorganized designers—especially when they’re outside contractors. Yet if you want to make your event a success, you know you need them. So what can you do?
Here’s the good news: With a few tweaks to the way you work together, your graphic designer can become one of your biggest allies. Here are three keys to working with designers that will ultimately help improve your work process and bring your vision, and most importantly, your client’s vision to fruition.
Communicate with Words and Visuals. Have you ever outlined your ideas to your designer only to have the first round of layouts appear completely out of left-field? Equipping your designer with the right information from the start goes a long way toward getting just the right look and feel for your event.
Tani embraced a client’s love of Hawaiian watercolors to design a conference theme.
The more examples you can bring to the table of what you like and what you don’t—from overall themes to specific fonts, colors, and imagery—the more your materials will flourish. I recently had a client who loved Hawaiian watercolor paintings, and we were able to wrap an entire event around that design theme. Creative freedom is a wonderful thing, but really understanding the meeting or event’s vision and effectively communicating it to your designer is paramount.
Defining Those All-Important Due Dates. How is it that some of the most important deliverables—like your printed collateral—always end up as last-minute ordeals? Thankfully, there’s a simple way to avoid the stress. For starters, once you’ve established your key delivery dates, request a formal production schedule from your designer based on those precise dates.
In addition, it’s important to remember that all good things take time to develop and an effective creative campaign is no exception. So be sure you and your designer create a realistic production schedule that takes into account all the steps of a successful campaign, from design to printing to shipping. The designer needs time to conceptualize, research, develop, present, revise, finalize, and coordinate for print. Then the printing process has its own schedule, needing time for setup, ordering stock, reviewing proofs, printing, re-proofing, drying, trimming, binding, mounting, packaging, and shipping. And shipping should never be taken for granted—even the most efficient outfits encounter traffic and weather delays. Finally, don’t forget to build in a buffer for the potential hiccups that always seem to arise.
Instilling Trust in Your Relationships
Even under the best circumstances, a well-formulated production schedule can easily go askew—pulling rabbits out of hats is often just part of the job, right? Last-minute, complex, or even forgotten items are inevitable so having a trusted relationship with your creative partner can pay dividends in crunch time.
As with any good working relationship, these partnerships take time and effort to develop. Just as you have nurtured relationships with hotels and production companies, your designers have their own competent vendors that can help when the chips are down, including printers, sign producers, specialty item vendors, and shippers. When your back is against the wall, don’t be afraid to reach out to your creative partners to help you deliver your products, as expected, on time, or sometimes even out of thin air.
There’s a reason why you were hired for your position—because you’re great at what you do. Your best work likely results from the trust your client has placed in you. Learn the right way to place this trust in your creative team and the results can be equally dazzling. Set clear expectations, outline your vision, and establish mutually-agreeable timelines. The better you can organize and communicate with your designers, the more likely it is you’ll end up with showcase-worthy materials and, more importantly, highly valued, long-lasting partnerships.
Devin Tani, an innovative designer based in Portland, Oregon, runs a creative studio specializing in the meeting and incentive industry. From graphic design, promotional, and copywriting services to a comprehensive array of printing and finishing solutions, Devin has worked with clients such as Chevron, Goodyear, and Gallo Wines for over a decade, helping them elevate the attendee experience. DevinTaniDesigns.com