After years of schooling, blood, sweat, tears, a few loans, and finding the perfect location, you finally fulfilled your dream of starting your own eyecare practice! You've assembled a dream team including an awesome accountant who you trust will keep you within your monthly budget, an amazing front desk team who is great with patients and who will keep you organized with complicated scheduling, the best tech in your community to help you with pre-exam testing, and a trendy optician who can recommend the perfect frames for patients.
So now that you have your practice set up, you're ready to take it to the next level and start creating a brand that you can market to the community. But where do you begin? You may be tempted to take on this task yourself, but if you're striving for true optical marketing success it might be in your best interest to hire a professional.
You might be thinking, "But I made a few flyers for my sister's lost cat one time, I know all about design!" Although you might think design is fun and easy, there's a lot more to it than picking a font and sticking a photo into a word document. Hiring someone with experience, education, and skill in the field would benefit you greatly, even though you think you might know enough to do it yourself.
Once you find that perfect designer, the real work is just beginning. It is important to respect and work with your designer so you can come up with what is best for your brand. We asked our in-house designer for some tips on how to work successfully with a designer to make the process as simple and successful as possible.
Optical Marketing: Real World Advice for Working with a Designer
Do Your Research
It's okay to not be sure what you want, but try to do some research beforehand. Look at competitors' designs and try to decide what you do and don't like about them. Get an idea of what is common practice in your field so you have a better idea of what to expect when the project starts. Most designers charge by the hour, and research is included in those billable hours. So the better idea you have of what you want, the less time that will be spent trying to dig it out of your brain.
Designers are artists, not mind readers! Whether you have no clue what you want, or you already have it all planned out in your head, be sure to let your designer know! Sure, what you have planned out might not be the best option in the end, but you should still express your inital ideas so your designer has an idea of what you are looking for, and has a chance to explain to you why something will or won't work. One of the worst things you can do is to have an idea or expectation in your head, have the designer spend hours or weeks working on something, and when it is presented you don't like it because it didn't turn out the way you pictured it in your head. This wastes precious time and money that you are responsible for.
Provide Examples for Clear Communication
One area that gets very complicated when working with a designer (especially long distance or over email) is clear communication. Because design is a very subjective field, there's a lot that is open to interpretation and not everyone has the same definitions for descriptive words. Your idea of "clean" or "modern" might be very different than the designer's. So if you send them an assignment using only a few keywords, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and it's easy for the project to get derailed.
When initially discussing the project, you should always attach images and descriptions of why you like them. Maybe you think what you want is a "clean, modern" design, but all the examples you send say otherwise. This way the designer can tell right off the bat that your definitions are different and they can either clairfy that for you or work with it. This is a great learning process and helps you understand a lot more about design, so expect a lot of discussion in this step of the process!
Pro Tip: When providing examples don't just ask a designer to "copy" it! It's great to take ideas from examples and get inspiration, but don't ask a designer to rip off another desinger's work completely. Also keep in mind that "mix and matching" ideas from many different sources doesn't always work. So don't ask a designer to use a logo like example 1, the contact form like example 2, a biography like example 3, and a footer like example 4. A design should flow and work together, so taking bits and pieces from random sources won't always blend together properly.
Let Them Do Their Thing
You hired a designer for a reason; you were looking for a professional look. Trust their opinion and advice the same way you would with any other hired professional. If they mention that one of your ideas might not work well, trust their judgement and move on. Yes, it's important for them to explain their reasoning now and then, but you can't expect them to present every single thing, every step of the way unless you plan on paying for the time, or tuition for getting schooled in how to be a designer. Feel free to ask questions on the big stuff, but don't nit-pick.
Expect a Lot of Back and Forth
Prepare your inbox for a lot of emails back and forth, and try to stay on topic and organized in the email chain. The design process will always have back and forth discussion and illustration of different ideas and options; don't get overwhelmed.
Pro Tip: The best way to avoid a lot of back and forth is to be as clear as possible; the more clear you are early on in the process means there will be less revisions and edits to be made. For example, if you hate the color orange make sure it's known in the beginning instead of having the desinger create dozens of mockups using the color orange, then weeks later mentioning, "Oh yeah, could we change everything that's orange to green? I hate orange." The sooner they know, the less revisions that will be necessary.
It's a tough job trying to draw an idea out of someone's head, and creating something functional and beautiful out of it. The process might be frustrating, but please encourage and be kind to your desinger! Keep in mind that they have your best interest in mind, so when they tell you that an idea isn't a good one don't take it personally. There are a lot of factors when designing something that contributes to a brand's overall concept. You might have your heart set on having a neon blinking glitter button, but if they advise against it, they probably have a long list of good reasons.
Subscribe to the blog to learn more tips for owning your own practice!