How To Effectively Communicate With Your Graphic Designer


You’re surrounded by it every day, everywhere—graphic design! Some of it is great; some of it isn’t great; some of it is simply confusing. But before you give all the credit – good or bad – to the graphic designer, understand that graphic design begins with communication. It’s an art all its own. And it isn’t just a one-way street.

Here are 3 effective ways to communicate to your designer what you want in your project.

1.      Have a vision

If your basic instructions are, “Here’s the size, here’s a picture. Make it say  something like…”. Well, you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.

Having a vision means:

Knowing the message you want to convey.

Who needs to receive that message?

What kind of feedback you are hoping to achieve.

Be specific in every way you can. More often than not, a graphic designer wants you to be extremely happy with their work. As School House Rock explained to us decades ago, “Knowledge is power!” The more information you can provide to your designer, the more confidence they will have in producing the project you desire.


visual examples image.jpg

2.      Provide the necessities.

a.      The business brand. The brand of the business is the foundation for the project to begin. Your brand is your logo, color scheme and tag line. These three identifiers that should be repeated in all your business communications. Provide these identifiers in clean, scalable formats like JPG or PNG.

b.      The project scope. This includes:

o   Project specs – color or black and white, finished size, for print or screen

o   Image choices (photos, illustrations)

o   Font choices – This is optional since you may not have to specify beyond what your brand calls for since designers are extremely adept at designing with fonts.

o   Copy - Not every project has copy. If copy is a part of the scope, understand that it is powerful. Copy dictates the number of pages in your project, how many images are necessary to complement the copy, the number of columns and more.

c.       Visual examples. Share what you love and don’t love with your designer. This can be previous company designs, or pieces from magazines or web searches. A little extra time spent at the beginning of a project can save an abundance of time in edits and revisions.

branding image.jpg


3.      Provide hearty feedback

Be as specific here as you were at the beginning. Break it down into parts and give concise feedback, such as:

o   Color (less purple)

o   Images (more diverse in age and race)

o   Fonts – (perfect!)

o   Layout – (I’d like to see it without the blue box and then decide).

feedback examples image.jpg


Ask questions when you feel like you don’t understand why something is designed a certain way. Questions lead to better communication.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a one-way street. Your designer may have questions for you and may need to explain the process of doing what you’re asking for. Often, something that sounds very simple to do from the business side of the project is a time-consuming process on the design side. It isn’t bad that it takes time, it just needs to be understood by both sides. A great relationship with your graphic designer begins with great communication.  

If you’d like more in-depth information concerning any of the items mentioned here, please contact us.

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5 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page

There are many different types of Facebook posts that you can use to engage with your online community, but you don't always have to use something directly related to your specific business. People enjoy connecting on Facebook, but too many “LOOK AT MY BUSINESS” posts will end up getting passed over or even worse, cause you to lose followers. (For more on this, see the “Six Social Media Mistakes” blog.) Remember to always keep your posts related to your business.

This is the most basic (and probably the most used) Facebook post. However, the biggest mistake people can make is putting too much information in their post. Keep your promotions to just a few sentences. If a specific promotion has too much information, it is usually best to create an event for your followers to get that information.

Fun Posts
Using Memes or Pinterest ideas can be useful for most business pages, but you should be careful. For example, A bakery would benefit from posting recipe ideas, but a law firm who posts funny memes regularly may instead be viewed as unprofessional.

News Articles
Showcasing your business when it has been featured in the news is great, but other news articles can also create engagement on your Facebook page. For example, an airline can post articles about the future of aviation or even vacation hotspots. Who knows? The reader may need your airline to book one of those awesome vacations.

Behind the Scenes
Your Facebook followers have “liked” you for a reason. They love to feel like they are a part of your company. Showing your followers a little insight as to what is going on in your business can be fun and engaging.

Videos: The possibilities are endless when it comes to video. From animation to how-tos, videos can be a great resource or a way to showcase a specific product. Because videos can take a little more time (and sometimes money) to make, try to create your videos so that they can be reposted regularly.

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2017 Graphic Design Trends

2017 has been a year of innovation for many facets- graphic design is no exception!

A company’s graphic design is used to reveal its brand and uniqueness- so its important to the know the latest trends and incorporate them as needed. Here are five areas that are evolving this year.

With the rise of free typekits like Google fonts, non-traditional fonts are now everywhere- and in many cases FREE! Custom fonts are helpful in branding your company, as they are distinct and modern. Handwritten fonts, mix and match type and large, bold typography are huge trends of 2017.
For example, Dropbox has adopted the use of hand-drawn illustrations in everything they do. It has become part of their brand now and is easily recognizable.

Bolder, Brighter Color
Over the past few years, several big brands internationally used muted, safe and straightforward to digest colors. This was in an effort to form a clean and controlled style theme.  Now, in 2017, there has been a shift off from neutral colors like whites, grays and black, to bolder and brighter colors.

By adding more vibrant color, companies can give their branding a fresh new look without straying too far from what made them great.

Instagram is a great example of using brighter color to freshen their logo and brand.

Minimalism has been a growing trend in general- this most definitely includes graphic design.

Minimalist design is about a return to the basics of contrast, space, organization, color, dominant visual and typography.

Minimalist design is a great option for a number of design projects. It can stand out against all the other design clutter because it’s different. Think of those community bulletin boards and how many things are crammed into every poster. Go minimal and yours will grab the eye of passersby first.

Authentic Photos
With the popularity of stock image sites and the need for high quality images, the best generic images are being overused by everyone. It’s important for companies to start using authentic, original images that represent their brand. By doing this, companies add the human element back to their images that so many stock photos are missing.

Everyone on your team has a camera phone in their pocket.  Snap a few photos of your office or some fun pictures of your logo and use those instead. If you’re lucky enough to have a team photographer, tap into their skills and think outside of the box when it comes to photos for your collateral, website and social media.

Many new trends have emerged in logo design in 2017.  Five of the most dominant are:

·         Minimalism- Say more with less.  It is often the simplest designs that catch the eye.

·         Hand drawn- Hand-drawn designs feel fresh, comforting, human and grounded. They                 convey a unique brand and are difficult to duplicate.

·         Negative space- Negative space designs are attractive, clean and have the power to                   enhance your brand value.

·         Line art- Thin lines give a fresh, modern and clean look to your brand.

·         Vintage- These logos convey as sense of creditability and sensibility.

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The Importance of Brand Consistency

Once you establish a brand for your business, using it in a consistent manner allows you to establish a standard foundation for all your marketing pieces. Just setting the standards does not make your brand consistent, however. 

You may think that using your logo in its proper Pantone colors on your marketing materials is being brand consistent. But brand consistency is not just about logos and colors.

By being consistent, you will help give your business recognition and creditability. Brand recognition moves you to the next level and your customers will develop trust and loyalty.

The best way to achieve this is to be consistent throughout your brand with the look, feel and verbiage and implement it on all marketing materials, including: business cards, websites, campaigns, signage, invoices, letterhead and all things related to your brand.

KFC Brand Standar.jpg

All companies should have a Brand Standard Guideline. This guideline will allow everyone to be on the same page when using your brand elements: name, logo, tagline, typeface, fonts, proper colors and any other brand attributes. Having a brand standard guideline helps keep the look and messaging consistent throughout your company.

Using a brand inconsistently can have a significant impact on your business, causing customers to lose trust in your business.

5 Simple Rules to Brand Consistency:

·         Use standardized colors and design styles

·         Keep all core messages aligned

·         Keep typefaces uniform and consistent

·         Keep imagery characteristics and illustrations uniform and consistent

·         Know your audience

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The Commitment Of Focus

Positive constraints are crucial to development. A positive constraint is essentially a scheduling commitment that forces focus. The act of discipline brings freedom. You can’t climb a hill by dreaming about the top, you climb the hill by the discipline of walking up the hill.


We all like to imagine the artist waits for inspiration to strike and then creates a masterpiece or the entrepreneur sits and stews until a good idea suddenly appears and they start a business. The reality is things don’t happen like that. Artists wake up and force themselves to do their art. Entrepreneurs wake up and force themselves to brainstorm.

Think about where you want to be professionally, personally and relationally -- then work backwards. For instance. if you want to open a bakery, you need to be able to bake, so a positive constraint could be forcing yourself to bake something everyday. Not only would you perfect your desired taste, texture and consistency, but you’d also have very happy neighbors.

Freedom isn't the ability to do whatever you want, it's the discipline to do what you should.

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What is AP Style?

As a young journalism student, I was introduced to The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (usually called the AP Stylebook bible) for the first time. The AP Stylebook is the English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Press over the last century to standard mass communications. Over the years, it has become the leading reference for most forms of public-facing corporate communications. It offers a basic reference to grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as style for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.



For most of my 26 years in corporate communications, publishing, public relations and marketing, I have used the rules that The AP Stylebook lays out. Although other style books exist, like The Chicago Manual of Style, I have found that AP Style is the easiest to follow and makes my red pen happy. Many of our clients may wonder why I edit things in a particular manner, so explaining a few of the basic rules may help.

One of the most common questions I get is why I delete the last comma in a series (it typically comes before "and"). Of course, if you are in English class, that last comma is necessary, but since I follow AP Style, I do not include it. In addition, all punctuation should be inside a quotation mark, not outside.

Another common mistake I see is the use of the word "over" to describe a quantity of something. "There were over a thousand people there." Over is a word that describes something spatial, not numbers. A better choice is "more than," which should always be used when referring to numbers. For example, "There were more than a thousand people in attendance at the concert."

Here are a few more style guidelines that differ from what you may have learned in English class:

State Abbreviations: These are tricky because you don't abbreviate all states. Some states are abbreviated with two letters, three letters, four letters or initials. For example, Alabama is abbreviate "Ala." while Kentucky is abbreviated "Ky." Abbreviations do not follow post office rules, so be aware of that.

Titles: Capitalize formal titles when they precede an individual's name. It would be correct to say: "Mayor Bob Miller attended the press conference." It would be incorrect to say "Bob Miller, mayor of Newport, attended the press conference."

Numbers: Write out the numbers one through nine and use numerals for numbers 10 and higher.

Percent: Write out the word percent instead of using the "%" sign. I have made exceptions to this rule when I am dealing with large financial statements as it just doesn't make sense to spell it out in that instance.

Toward: This word does not end with an "s." Neither does forward, backward, upward, etc.

That vs. Which: Use "that" and "which" when referring to inanimate objects or animals without names. Use "that" for essential clauses that are important to the meaning of the sentence. "I remember the day that I met my future husband." Use "which" for nonessential clauses where the pronoun is less necessary. "The team, which won the championship last year, begins their 2017 season next month."

Farther vs. Further: Use "farther" when referring to a physical distance. Use "further" when referring to an extension of time or degree. "I walked farther today than I did yesterday." or "I promise to look further into this problem."

Obviously there are many more examples I could share with you, but these are some of the most important ones that I see on a daily basis. Our goal at VSM is to create clean, compelling, insightful copy that adheres to all the rules.

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