9 Things to Never Say to a Designer

By Julia Briggs / 08 Mar 2018


Working with a designer is great — you have a way of making your vision and ideas manifest in a tangible way for your current or prospective audience to see. However, it’s worth remembering that while a designer can do just about anything you ask, it doesn’t mean their experience and insight should be taken as “just another opinion.”

The challenge with design tweaks is that it’s insanely easy to add cost — but painfully hard to add value. Don’t get us wrong: some design elements require changes. The test for you is to make sure the changes are worth the effort.

With that in mind, we offer nine low-value tweaks that you’re better off not mentioning to your designer. If you avoid the temptation of these small changes (which normally add no value), you’ll free yourself to focus on your marketing goals.

1. “Make the logo bigger.”

Your designer has years of experience and hundreds of projects to their credit. They know how big the logo needs to be.

One of the fundamentals of design is keeping all elements in proportion — not too large and not too small. This kind of aesthetic decision is best left to someone who has done it a million times. 

Remember, the point of your brochure or poster is making sure your customer understands the value and the benefit of the product or service you’re offering. Your logo reassures customers, but it doesn’t persuade them to buy. 

Don’t let an off-sized logo distract customers from what you want them to do. 

2. “Use Comic Sans.”

Personal computers provide a galaxy of fonts, 99% of which are inappropriate for your design project. 

It takes a studied eye to weigh your marketing goals and pick the font that helps breathe life into them. And there are other complications:

  • All font selections must complement the typefaces you’re already using.
  • Because fonts are digital documents, they need to be broadly compatible with the computer systems of clients, designers, and printers.
  • You need to make sure the names of your company and your products look good in the typeface you choose.

Trust us, typeface choice is best left to the experts (especially if you want to avoid the madness that is Papyrus).

Decoding Your Designer

3. “Use more fonts.”

An entire marketing campaign might need three or four fonts — maximum. 

Consistency in type makes your message feel similar in every venue. The more fonts you have, the more clutter you get. And clutter distracts people from your marketing message. 

Also, keep in mind that the size and color of your typeface can bring a world of variety without altering your letter shapes.

4. “Make these words bold, italic, and underlined.”

It’s your message that conveys importance — not type effects like bold, italic, underlining, and other basic tweaks.

If your type needs more emphasis, rewrite your copy to make it more, well, emphatic. 

5. “Don’t worry about the brand guidelines.”

We help companies create brand guidelines here at Blue Star Design. We believe deeply that brand guidelines matter and should not be cast aside on a whim. They make up the rulebook by which you make sure each member of the team represents the brand in the same way and delivers consistency to your audience. 

So, don’t ask your designer to violate brand guidelines. If you want to upgrade your brand guidelines, we’d be happy to help. Just be sure you’ve thought everything through.

6. “We haven’t finished the copy, but go ahead and get started on the design.”

Copy and design have to mesh like the gears in your car’s transmission. Without content, we can’t get anywhere with a design. 

Design has two key jobs: anchoring and amplifying your content. Trying to make that happen without the content pretty much guarantees delays that squeeze deadlines and add to costs.

We’ve learned this the hard way far too many times: The “advance” prototype we started out with made no sense when we added the final copy. Then we have to redo things, either changing the design or the copy, or both. Again, more time equals more money. 

7. “I know you can do this really quick.”

What seems simple to you might require changes in several documents, memos to multiple marketing and sales people, and a raft of high-level approvals. And there’s always the risk that your small tweak accidentally undermines the whole campaign.

Only the designer knows how long things will take. Our pros need time to thoughtfully prepare prototypes, drafts, and proofed copies, and make sure everybody gets a chance to see the changes. 

Every change, no matter how trivial, has to work in the context of the entire design project.

8. “I’ll know what I want when I see it.”

If you want to go about creating your next project via this route, you might as well set fire to your marketing budget. 

Our designers can pick a color palette and dream up a concept that looks great, but looks aren’t everything. We need to know your target audience, marketing strategy, and business goals to build a campaign that resonates with your customer.

The more you give us to work with, the sooner we can deliver a campaign to improve your business. The less we have to work with, the longer you have to wait to see a design proof.

9. “Here’s this design I found — I want exactly this.”

Other people’s designs are protected by copyright. Using them in your marketing materials is an especially egregious violation because you’re using their intellectual property to attempt to strengthen your business prospects. Long story short: It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

It’s okay to show designers the kinds of work you like — for inspiration only. If the draft your designer creates isn’t exactly like the one you showed them, they’re probably saving you from lots of unnecessary legal and reputational stress. 

Make sure you and your designer are on the same page

The best way to effectively communicate your wishes with designers is to make sure you’re speaking the same language: learn their lingo. If you’re befuddled by fonts or clueless on copy formats, check out some of our other blogs on design

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