Having a clear (graphic design) process is the foundation of every great business. Since the start of my business, I was always interested in perfecting my client intake- and graphic design process. As a freelance graphic designer, you have to be a jack of all trades. For everyone who thinks that designers are designing all day… you’re dead wrong! We need to follow up with clients, manage our inbox, be our own social media manager, website coördinator, do our bookkeeping, etc. It can be quite overwhelming. Having a clear graphic design process will make sure your business runs smoothly.

CONSULTATION CALL

When I get an email from a client, I immediately send them an invitation to hop onto a free consultation call. The goal of this call is to get to know my client, their business and the scope of work. The platform I use depends on the client’s preference. Most of the time it’s Skype.

Tip: Make sure your Skype profile is up to date and looks professional. I remember when I had my first client call and my profile picture was a photo of me in high school – not very charming.

PROPOSAL

After the consultation call, I create a proposal in Dubsado. Dubsado is a customer relationship management software that allows me to manage my contracts, proposals, questionnaires, etc. In the future, I’ll write a blog post about how I use Dubsado in my business.

If you can’t wait to check out Dubsado: click the link below and use coupon code: designbynj to get 20% off once you decide to upgrade to a premium plan after your free trial.

Making things official

As soon as the client agrees to work with me, I send out a canned email response to make things official. In just a few steps, we will have everything ready to go.

Step 1: the client has to sign a contract that I, again, send out with Dubsado. The client doesn’t have to print and scan the contract. Their electronic signature is legally binding. So basically they just type in their name and they’re DONE!

Step 2: the client needs to secure their spot in my schedule by paying a 50% deposit. This is also an indication for me that they’re serious about their project.

Step 3: the client has the option to check out their client portal. At any time during their project, they can view all importation documentation (such as contracts, invoices, and certain communication).

Homework

I need to get an understanding of the client’s business, so I’ll assign them some homework. The client needs to fill in a questionnaire form I have set up in Dubsado. The goal of the questionnaire is to show my clients how to formulate their brand’s identity. It’s going to help identify how they want their new brand to be perceived and for me to get a general idea of their style, as well as what appeals to their target market.

I ask questions like:

  • List five words, emotions or adjectives that you want people to associate with your business.
  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What sets your business apart from the competition?
  • Are there any colours I need to avoid?

Once the client has completed their questionnaire they have to create a Pinterest mood board so I can get a better idea of what the client is attracted to. From there, I will start outlining the project and create a mood board. This will set the overall look & feel of their brand.

After I’m finished, I will send off the project brief. The project brief is an important part of the design process and sets up the foundation of the designs we are about to create. Ensuring the details are correct and aligned with the client’s business is a must.

If the client is happy with the overall style, we can move forward with the design. If there’s something not appealing to their target audience or that doesn’t align with their business style, they can provide feedback.

Pinterest keywords hashtags

Logo concepts

It’s finally time to get some design work done. I will explore various design options and bring 2-3 concepts to life. Before I send my concepts off to my client, I will create various mockups to give the client an idea of how the logo will work in real-life scenarios.

Again, I send off my feedback form in Dubsado. I use the same template for every client. I just need to change the concept descriptions + photos. We will go through a few rounds of revisions. I tell my client to be really specific otherwise I’m forced to make a decision for them 😉

Brand elements

The client has a brand new logo, now we make it come alive with branded graphics.

Depending on the client’s package I create:

  • A secondary logo/favicon
  • Font combinations
  • Icons or a custom brand pattern
  • Business cards
  • Social media materials
  • And more

Once the client gives approval on the design I create a brand usage guide so all their graphics are in one document. A brand usage guide will keep the brand cohesive for the years to come.

Long Pinterest pins

Wrapping it up

We’re done designing. I’ll send the client my final invoice and I’ll start saving their design into usable file formats. Once I’ve received their payment, I will deliver all their files via Google Drive. In this last email, I will also ask my client for a testimonial and a referral (if possible). After this, we can celebrate the launch of their new brand!

Design by NJ

Design by NJ is working with go-getters and visionaries who are ready to tell their story through bold and intentional design.

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