Need Effective Visual Branding? How to Vet Designer Candidates

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What vetting steps do you take with visual designers to determine whether they are able to create effective visual branding components that are reflective of your brand?

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1. Put Them Through a Multi-Layered Interview and Testing Process

During recruitment every design candidate is put through a general interview (a walk-through of their current portfolio), a UX test to evaluate their research and usability process, a visual test to determine if the branding they created is suitable for the product and a cultural Interview to determine fit for our company. Candidates are then scored from 0 to 10. – Jinny Hyojin OhWANDR

2. Carefully Review Their Portfolio

When I’m vetting potential visual designers, I take a very close look at their portfolio. The things I look out for are any common quirks or mistakes and if they have a wide artistic range. I’m not looking for a one-trick pony who can create the same design with hundreds of tiny variations, and I’m not looking for anyone who’s sloppy or likes to cut corners. – Bryce WelkerCrush The PM Exam

3. Ask Unexpected Questions During the Interview

You can’t rely on portfolios alone; you must ask questions that go deeper. Have candidates go through the visual choices they made and explain what inspired them to create the pieces in their portfolio. Ask an unexpected question and have them critique a competitor’s design. This will give you insight on how they work creatively and their fit with your business’s visual design goals. – Samuel ThimothyOneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions

4. Hire Them for Small-Scale Freelance Work First

After talking to a designer and looking over their portfolio, I hire them as a freelancer for a relatively small task. If they do a great job, I have more confidence about hiring them for more substantial work in the future. This way, I can assess their ability to create designs that match our brand, but also their soft skills and reliability. – Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

5. Look for a Consistent, Creative Vision Across Their Past Work

A lot of our brands have a friendly mascot attached to the logo. So, when we’re in the process of creating a brand and selecting a brand new designer, it’s important that they have experience creating friendly mascots for other companies if that is the style we are going to go forward with. – Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

6. Set Clear Creative Guidelines for Designers to Follow

Our business is all about design, so vetting is a huge part of our process. Over time, we’ve developed a set of creative guidelines for our artists and contributors. These guidelines clearly define what we’re looking for, as well as the types of design mistakes and pitfalls we want to avoid. By clearly defining our expectations in the beginning, we’re able to avoid difficult conversations later. – Shawn RubelVecteezy

7. Check Their References

Finding the right designers is key to ensure that we are maintaining brand consistency for clients. My process involves a rigorous review of candidates’ portfolios and reaching out to references. I really believe in the value of speaking to references to understand a candidate’s work ethic and quality of work product. – Adam WrightAssociated Graphics (AGI)

8. Test Their Creative Limits and Adaptability

To see how adaptable a designer is, ask them to create three vastly different concepts using your existing brand guidelines. This challenges them to work within some creative constraints but evaluates their ability to think beyond the types of designs that you’ve already created. You’ll want to hire the designers who can demonstrate original thought and adherence to brand preferences. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep

9. Ask Them What Software They Use

Sometimes you will find a great designer who is using a software that doesn’t complement what you already have. This will make it tricky for you to change any colors down the line, make a background transparent or just be able to play around with your new design yourself. Before I agree to hire a new designer, I will find out what software they are using and the file types I’ll be receiving. – Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

10. Give Them an On-the-Spot Test

I always ask applicants to create a design on the spot based on a set of parameters (i.e., size, target audience, etc.). We inform them ahead of time in case they want to bring their own materials. How one works can reveal much about one’s capabilities. For example, those who proactively ask for more details as they work show me that they can be flexible and can achieve our vision for our brand. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

11. Evaluate Their Visual Storytelling Skills

Being a good designer isn’t enough when it comes to designing branding materials. The ability to communicate complex ideas and brand stories is a unique skill, so your designer needs to be versed in visual communication. Visual communication graphically represents information to efficiently and effectively create meaning. A pretty design isn’t enough to communicate what truly drives your brand. – Amy BalliettKiller Infographics

12. Consider the Types of Questions They Ask You

Pay attention to whether the designer is asking the right questions via a questionnaire or email to learn about your brand and get a sense of the messages you want to convey. See if the designer connects to your brand story and feels a connection to the project — otherwise, you risk the end-product feeling detached and not representing your brand and vision. – Eng TanSimplr

13. Ask Them About Their Process and Challenges

I hire several designers every year for my company and my way of interviewing is asking in-depth about their process. A good designer will talk about the process with confidence and will give some examples, while inexperienced ones can not. I also give them some challenges we face in design and listen to their responses. – Piyush JainSIMpalm

14. See How They Respond to Your Feedback

It is important that designers are willing to tailor their unique creative energy to strongly reflect the brand. Offering a candidate a design challenge is a great way to see how the candidate thinks about your brand and, more importantly, how the candidate accepts feedback. The right designer will always be able to make revisions and focus on the greater good of the brand. – Kevin YamazakiSidebench

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Will is the Executive Managing Editor at Feedster. Will and his team from Full Epic Lead Generation work with venture capital, marketing co-ops, and companies to attract and gain qualified leads.

His primary focus on developing a sales funnel for a company and finding out of the box / growth hacking style ways to convert and drive traffic.

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