Be Prepared When Working With a Design Partner

In today’s ever increasing visual world, anyone involved in promotion must venture into the realm of design, whether it’s to create a single flyer or develop a full-blown campaign.

Franco design samples

Franco works closely with clients on a wide range of design projects, many of them created completely in house. Above are a sampling of recent print materials produced for our nonprofit clients.

But what if design is not your forte? Here are a few tips for getting the best from your graphic partner:

  • Do a little soul searching. What exactly are you trying to communicate and who are you trying to reach? What is the best creative approach for your audience(s)? Are traditional print or online ads best? Does this call for a pamphlet? Would billboards do the trick? Is this an opportunity for something completely out-of-the-box?
  • Be clear. What’s the end use for this creative? How will it be distributed and how do you want your audience react to or use it? Say you’re designing a giveaway for a special event, thinking through these logistics will direct your designer’s creativity and help ensure your piece generates the results you’re intending.
  • Show and tell. Search online, skim magazines, take photographs, keep an eye on the mail . . . gather design samples that catch your eye and help you communicate specific creative elements you’d like your designer to explore. (Even sharing samples you DO NOT LIKE is helpful in keeping design on the right track.)
  • Be real. What is your budget? No sense encouraging your designer to explore a multi-part print invitation with foil imprints, die cuts and other expensive bells and whistles when an oversized postcard is all your budget can handle. A skillful designer can achieve the look and feel you need at any price point.
  • Be ready. Once you’ve agreed to a general approach, make sure to provide your designer with everything he or she needs for best results. Provide all text, images and logos at the outset so the initial design is as complete as possible.
  • Take your time. When reviewing creative, “live” with it for a bit rather than provide immediate feedback. Make sure all the information you need to communicate is there. (Glaring omissions can be easier to catch at this stage.) Are the text, images and logos given the proper emphasis in relation to one another? Will the design reproduce well? For example, is the typeface too thin or small to be legible when printed in a newspaper?
  • Be specific. What if the creative doesn’t meet your expectations? General “I don’t like it” feedback is not constructive and experience shows that by identifying the specific design elements you do not care for can turn a creative miss into a hit. Maybe changing the background color will make all the difference. How about eliminating a border or adding line art? Few design exercises are on target at first pass and require adjustments to get them right where you want them.
  • Stay focused. It’s easy to be dazzled by a spectacular design that, with additional consideration, actually doesn’t meet your communications needs because the information is lost in the art. Compromise is key to finding the proper balance between the beauty and functionality of any creative designed for promotional purposes.

So the next time design factors into your promotional plans, take some time to do your homework before reaching out to your designer. It’ll make for a smooth process…and will reap wonderfully visual rewards! What design tips have you discovered along the way?

Pat Adanti-Joy, APR, is a vice president at Franco Public Relations Group, supporting the agency’s nonprofit clients, which includes a variety of design projects. You can reach her at 313-567-5046 or

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