Graphic design – 10 rules of engagement

graphic design engagement rules

If it has been your past experience that graphic designers are precious about their craft, then you have probably worked with the wrong people. Like any other profession, graphic design is about understanding a client brief, showing a degree of flexibility and working in collaboration to achieve the desired result.

At the same time, in order to deliver the desired outcome, your graphic designer needs some clear parameters to work within. Graphic design may be a creative process, but there is no room for ambiguity or misalignments. Here are 10 things your graphic designer does not want to hear:


1- Can you get on with the design while we’re finalising the copy?

Very often THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP delivers projects that have both a copywriting and graphic design component. We are always clear that the copy should first be fully approved and signed off as a text document. Placing the content into the design layout happens page-by-page to ensure it sits perfectly on each page in the most readable and aesthetic way. 

Asking your graphic designer to start laying out text before it has been finalised will inevitably involve duplication of work, as further text editing will impact the design layout.


2- We only have two days to get everything completed (or) Come on, it won’t take long to knock this out

A good graphic designer should be able to work quickly and efficiently, but will also give you a realistic timescale on how long a job will take. Try to push on the timeframe and you will get a rushed, substandard job. 


3- Can you give us an editable version?

Graphic designers need the right tools to work with. Most commonly they use Adobe InDesign and/or Illustrator. It may be that you have these programmes and an inhouse resource to edit the layouts your graphic designer provides. If so, your inhouse resource should be experienced and competent to do so. 

MS programmes, including PowerPoint, are notoriously volatile and will not produce professional-standard design quality. For this reason, most designers stay away from such programmes or charge a premium to use them as they take greater time to produce the desired end result.


4- Can you send us your sample design before we give you the job?

It is common to produce 2-3 design concepts for the client to choose from and which then can be refined. But this is after you’ve awarded the project to your graphic designer. Producing design concepts takes time and your graphic designer will factor this into the project cost. 

You can still test your graphic designer’s credentials by asking for a portfolio of work. This should be enough to get a feel for their work. Once you’ve agreed on the cost proposal, then you can talk about developing specific concepts.


5- Can you work with these images we took on a phone?

It might be that you have a bank of images your graphic designer can use. If so, they will need to be high resolution – not snaps taken on your smartphone. It should also be established early on whether images will be supplied for your side or by your graphic designer, as it will impact price. If your graphic designer is to supply images, do you want bespoke photography (as THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP has provided in the past) or will stock images suffice? Either way, the scope needs to be clear.


6- Your quote is above the going rate

If you’ve ever booked an airline ticket, bought a shirt, or eaten out, you will know there is no such thing as a going rate. It will depend on the quality of your graphic designer, which part of the world they are based, or the nature of the project. Different graphic designers have different skills – infographics, web design, magazine layouts, ad designs and so forth. As the old adage says, you get what you pay for.


7- Now you’ve done the business cards, can you just knock out the letterhead?

Each application of the same branding needs to be laid out in an individual way to suit the purpose. Each has its own time element. So, don’t expect it to be ‘knocked out’ within the same price.


8- Can we try a completely different approach?

As mentioned, your graphic designer should produce 2-3 different design concepts for you to choose from which can then be fine-tuned. This is then the approved blueprint. If the brief changes, it will incur an additional cost, as it would if you ordered and were served a perfectly good hamburger, then decided you wanted a Caesar salad instead. 


9- If you give us a good price there’s lots of other work in the pipeline

Yes – we’ve all heard it.


10- You’re the designer here. Just create something we need.

A graphic designer can either work to an agreed brief, or by blindly stabbing in the dark. The ‘you’re the designer so it’s all your responsibility’ approach falls into the latter category. Agreed guidelines are key to producing the best result. 


Some of the most established international companies have come to rely on THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP to bring out the true essence of their brands through our elegant, clean and relevant designs. Contact us on +971-50-4575469,, or see our profile on

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