How to choose a graphic designer for your small business

Sooner or later, every business start-up will need a graphic designer. You may need a corporate logo, a website, a display advertisement, direct mail piece, or an entire campaign. Finding the right graphic designer to collaborate with isn’t an easy task.

Unlike doctors, attorneys, massage therapists or organic farmers, graphic designers aren’t regulated, strictly licensed, accredited or graded. A designer can have a degree in communication arts, fine arts, or design. Some come to design from web technology. Others have natural talents but little formal experience. So, keep these things in mind during your search.

Michael Kusek, owner of Communication Angle, a Northampton-based consultancy, matches designers and clients. “I prefer to work with area sole proprietors whose taste levels match the client’s needs. All designers have their own individual style, and I match that style to the need of the client’s design.”

When shopping for a designer, remember that good design and a Louvre quality masterpiece aren’t necessarily one and the same. Be aware that there are “design divas” out there who are more focused on showing the world how amazing their design work is rather than really serving your needs best.

Good design is a visual tool to represent your product and service and “sell” it to the marketplace. Remember the concept of “a picture is worth one thousand words.” What works for your business may not be museum-quality, and what wins multiple design awards might not represent you in the best possible light.

Kathy Crowe has run a sole proprietorship, Kathy Crowe Design, for over twenty years, and her clients include small businesses, artists, and start-ups. Many of her clients have limited budgets and limited design expertise.

“Know your product and know your market, and choose your design that will have the best visual impact on your chosen market” says Crowe. “Good design and smart copy should combine in a way that make your potential customer take note and want to take action.”

Good graphic designers have portfolios online. Look at their work, and see if their style is compatible with your business. Ask colleagues for recommendations. Word of mouth is a great resource.

You’ll end up with basically two types of design scenarios:
A designer affiliated with a larger agency comes with certain advantages. If you need media buying, web services, a media campaign, or other services, an agency is like one-stop shopping. The upside is a well-coordinated complete package. The downside is that your point person may be an account executive, one step away from their chosen designer for your project. You may not have direct access to your designer, or you may end up with a designer for whom your project is just another job assignment.

A solo practitioner offers personal attention and immediate access. Good designers are well connected with writers, photographers, web folk, and the same craftspeople as the larger agencies are. From personal experience, I prefer to work with small shops.

You’ll want to interview prospective designers. Look at their portfolios, with the understanding that good designers design for their client’s need, not to show off the entire scope of their own design capabilities.

Ask them how they work. Does their work style feel right to you? How do they bill? (There tend to be three options: project billing, hourly billing, or retainer if you’re planning to use them over an extended period). A good designer will be able to evaluate your needs and offer an estimated cost range. Ask them how they bill for author’s alterations. (That’s the cost if you make a change to art direction or copy once a piece has gone through significant production).

Check their references. Ask one of their clients how well the designer delivered. Did they meet expectations? Were they flexible during the design process? Did they deliver final materials on time? Were they accessible on short notice?
When you find a good designer, keep them! Good design is essential in building, maintaining, and growing a business.
Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.


  1. Thanks for the isights and it will be helpful material for people who wants to hire a designer.

  2. Mariah says:

    I really appreciate valuable thoughts provided here regarding choosing a graphic designer for your small business. To get best output from quality designer I'll follow the ways I learned from here. Thanks.

  3. I am really impressed with this blog and the way in which you have clearly explained some fascinating facts which i have never heard and also it gives very valuable information regarding this subject.

  4. If you are running a small business and want to maximize your services then it is very important to set marketing campaign. For effective marketing it is very necessary to use social media and get direct connection with people and aware them what is going on in your industry.

  5. Seo Services says:

    Very sound crucial post you have shared here about the way to opt the right graphic designer for small business and it is very much essential to choose the right graphic designer for our small business. Sot thanks 🙂

  6. JBS Printing says:

    Great Post. I have been in the design and printing business for many years and I can tell you first hand that there is nothing more important than having a professional designer take care of your marketing material. It saves time and money in the long run and just makes your business appear that much more professional.

  7. Oh WOW….. Really nice post about graphic. That's very beneficial points. I am going to share it. I have bookmark this web page and come back soon to see more posts. Thanks dude .. 🙂

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