In times of crisis, many agencies and companies decide to reduce their expenses on marketing and creative projects. That has influenced the lives of many designers worldwide. At the same time, many self-employed people including freelance brand designers have gotten the well-deserved attention of small agencies that never thought about hiring freelancers before.
When I started operating as an independent contractor I struggled to find clients mostly because employers didn’t trust remote workers. However, this seems like ancient times now. Recently the market has changed rapidly and with this new reality more and more companies and agencies decide to try this new work system.
For the last 5 years, the freelance market has increased by 41%, and the crises might fast forward this tendency. This year not only employees were forced to work from home but also many companies have started to see real benefits of this system. But are they all ready for it?
Switching from in-house to remote can already be tricky with the team that you know pretty well. And hiring a totally new person is even more difficult. But let’s be clear, not only managers who recently decided to hire freelancers struggle. Those who’s been already working with the freelancers make mistakes that can be frustrating for both sides (frustrating and very costly).
So what are the most common mistakes small agencies make and how to avoid them to make your work with a freelance brand designer smooth.
Provide an in-depth brief for a freelance brand designer
If you don’t want your freelance brand designer to have direct contact with the customer, you have to make sure the brief handed to the creative contains answers to the most crucial questions. Do your homework and get all the important information first. From what I see, a brief often includes some superficial information about the product and company, a few examples of what the client likes or dislikes, list of direct competitors. For not a very experienced person it can be a good starting point. But from my own experience, this information is not enough.
The brief should be based on facts and data, not assumptions. Your freelance brand designer will need detailed information about the target group (demographic and psychographics). Product description shouldn’t only show the features but also focus on the benefits and emotions that it triggers. When analyzing competitions it’s important to focus on the points of differentiation, strong and weak points.
Trust me, your designer will thank you.
Be an expert
Your clients come to you because they need an expert. They might seem like they know what they want, but is it really true? Many of the small agencies only gather information from the client who often doesn’t know much about branding or strategy. They might have some strong opinions about what they like or not but do they really know what their business needs?
Your job is to ask the right questions, provide solutions, and convince your client to the idea. A freelance brand designer is your right hand in this process. While he or she prepares the visuals your job is to support their work, dispel their doubts, and provide precise information based on in-depth interviews with stakeholders.
Lost in translation
If the freelance brand designer doesn’t have direct contact with the client you are the middleman whose job is to gather information, understand what is important, and read between the lines. The success of a project depends on how well you can present these ideas to the designer. Most of the time written brief filed up by customers is not enough.
Having direct contact with the stakeholders is an advantage that your designer doesn’t have. You need to be a good observer and curious interlocutor. What is written on the paper not always reflect reality. Important knowledge is hidden between the lines and you need intuition to read it correctly and ask the right questions.
Advocate for your freelance brand designer
In the first place, I believe that you choose your freelancer wisely. Many small agencies try to cut the corners and hire a person who charges half a price and can do almost everything. Unfortunately this strategy won’t get you far.
Choosing the right designer (but also any other team member) is a skill that we often learn in the hard way. But when you are sure you found the person make sure you take care of his/her interests.
Even the best project done by a freelance brand designer is not enough if you don’t present it in the right way. And how you advocate for it is even more important. Many project end up not being accepted because the person responsible for the contact with the client don’t put heart and expertise into it.
Another common mistake is to provide feedback from the client not even evaluating it. Emails are often forwarded directly to the designer who is expected to implement the changes even if they don’t make sense.
A freelance brand designer is part of your team
I know that many project managers look for a freelancer to relive their team but at the same time they exclude her or him from the process. But you have to remember that this definitely won’t benefit the project.
The most common mistake is to not include freelancers in discussions, not informing the person about important changes and updates, or not giving comprehensive feedback. Marginalize the freelancer is very demotivating and will influence the quality of work.
Choose a person with the right skills
Many small agencies try to save money by hiring one multi-skilled-multi-talented-cheap designer who will play like an orchestra and fulfill all the company’s needs. However, the world becomes more specialized and the same happens with design. It’s hard to expect designers to follow all the updates in every given field. Most of the good freelancers have their field of expertise.
Choosing a designer specialized in branding will help you to create a project based on facts and data. Choosing a freelance brand designer you give yourself a present of working with a person who can answer your client’s needs using the right tactics and strategies.
Summary – the most common mistakes the small agencies make when hiring a freelance brand designer
- Superficial brief without in-depth business information
- Brief based on assumptions, not on data and facts
- Being an information gatherer instead of an expert provider
- Not asking the right question and not reading between the lines
- Expecting that a good project is enough
- Not defending the idea/project
- Excluding a freelance brand designer from your team