"How to Get What You Want From a Designer"

A few days ago, we covered the beginning of the story of how I launched Gabrielle Carsala's brand "Badass Bliss," this last month, who was a super amaze-balls dream client that I worked with over the past few months.   If you missed it, part one is here.

How to get what you want from a designer...

Design clients usually fall into 3 categories: the ones that know EXACTLY what they want (the "smarty-pants"), the ones that have NO FLIPPING IDEA, and the dream client (which Gabrielle falls into, and we'll get into that in a minute).

The "smarty-pants" and the "no-flipping-idea" category of clients can create major problems for the designer. The first kind will show up with the fun stuff done, colors and fonts picked out, look at someone else's website and say I WANT THAT...before they even meet with a designer or have a proper brand strategy.  

These clients come to a designer almost as an art director with a "do this, do that" approach... without any real knowledge of why certain fonts and colors, style might not work...or why copycatting someone else's design style might not be the best idea.  Their inflexibility generally gets them what they want, but is that really going to be the best thing?

This approach is sort of putting the cart before the horse, and not always the best way to get a best brand identity, nor one that feels like you (especially if they are copycatting someone else.)   

What the "smarty-pants" client needs is someone to get to know them, understand their vision, their industry, and create a vision WITH them, and talk them out of all their bad ideas.

Then there is the second group of design clients, who don't know what they want at all, and they expect the designer to be a mindreader. They can't find anything they like because they just don't know.  They say things like "I don't know-- just make it pop!" 

A good designer, will take them through a guided process to help them figure out what they want, and justify to them why certain decisions should be made regarding things on trend, industry, and communication of adjectives that their ideal clients will resonate with.

A dream client, like Gabrielle, (falls into neither of these categories and the has best attributes of both) had an idea of how she wanted her brand to "feel", but flowed through the process with me to figure out what was going to work, with my lead.

A good way to not fall into the previous two traps, is to have a clear idea of how you want your brand to "feel" let your designer guide you through a process with mood boards so that you both can get on the same page.  Mood boards become a necessary (and fun) part of the process!  This is because it's a way to communicate with your designer visually, and your designer visually with you.


The problem with communicating verbally versus visually with a designer, is that for example, the definition or idea of luxury to a designer might be different than your idea of luxury (which might be traditional, classic, and the designers might be modern.) Hence why mood boards are SO important, so that you are communicating to each other with visual examples instead of verbal ones.

Before getting any photography done, designing a logo, or picking out colors, there is a very systematic process you should follow...

Before you do any design, these must be decided:

  1. Concept - What is the message you are communicating for this parent brand (this many times turns into the name of a biz or a tagline)
  2. Theme - What possible visual themes could support that message (designer will generally come up with some, and you should too with designer guidance)
  3. Mood Boards - They refine your ideas in a visual way.  Seeing this can help you eliminate ideas before you invest in a designer, or any time designing anything.

To have a super strong brand you NEED to have a strong concept (message) and a variety of visual options via mood boards (visual theme) to decide the best route to go.  

Concept (The Message) : Badass Bliss

Theme Ideas:  Badass Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz), Badass Lifestyle, Badass Luxury, Badass Vintage Neon Dorothy


Mood Board #1: Badass Dorothy from Wizard of Oz

Notice Dorothy with the machine guns, spikes, etc.  The badass part is being communicated with those items.  The bliss part is the end of the yellow brick road.  Every single image either says Dorothy or Badass.

Mood Board #2: Badass Vintage Neon Dorothy

Same philosophy as above, but this one integrates vintage and neon elements for a different spin on the badass element!


Mood Board #3: Badass Lifestyle: (THE CHOSEN ONE)

This one was the chosen concept because it was most closely aligned with the realistic vision that Gabrielle had for her clients, which was to live their best lives through having fun, being confident, adventurous, stylish, care-free, and being able to get over shit and get things done!  So girlfriends, sparkles, cotton candy, private jets, all became the inspiration for the photography shoot.

Now what do we do with these mood boards to use for the brand photography.....  Whelp, that's in the next part of this series coming next week!

In the comments below, share which of the three client categories you fall into, and what your biggest take-away from this blog entry was!


Extra HELPFUL CRITERIA FOR FINDING A DESIGNER:  When trying to find a designer-- find one that has a distinct branding process, go through that process with them, and be as flexible as possible. It's a team effort, you need to be guided out of your bad ideas and into the best version of your vision.  Also keep in mind, a designer will NEVER hit it right the first time, and sometimes it takes quite a few times before you are speaking the same language, so be patient. I call this "Failing Fast!" -- gotta get to the bad ideas first before the good ones emerge.  Same thing for those who are DIY'ing their brand.

...or you can skip hiring a designer, just take my course on DIY Branding here Launch Your Brand Academy Enroll Here!