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Great expectations: Choosing a graphic designer

BuyerZone.com 2003 - Mie-Yun Lee http://www.buyerzone.com/features/savvy_shopper/ss061503.html

Marketing is all about making a good first impression. But make sure to dig beyond the surface when choosing a graphic designer to create your print materials, whether it be a business card or direct marketing piece.

Start by reviewing portfolios of the graphic artists you are considering. Find out about their role in the development of a particular marketing piece. Did they come up with the concept, layout, copy, and/or design? Some designers include pieces in their portfolio for which they were not the primary designer but rather a part of a larger development team.

Before you settle on a graphic designer, clarify your expectations. Ask for a statement of work, which should lay out the detailed scope of the project. In addition to costs, include when payments will be made and after what milestones. You should also address how long it will take to complete the project and the approval process -- for example, whether you will be allowed unlimited revisions.

Exclusions should also be stated clearly. For a direct mail piece, for example, is stock photography included? If not, this could require a lot of your time, not to mention more money. Digital art correction and content development could also be considered exclusions.

Graphic design project costs vary greatly depending on the specifics involved. Consider brochure design, which can range anywhere from $500 to $20,000. If the design requires shooting original photography, for example, this can add as much as $1,000-$2,500 a day just to book the studio. And the actual photography can add thousands more dollars to the cost of the brochure.

Direct mail pieces can run $2,000-$3,000 for the design. The real cost is in the postage and the printing. A big chunk of the cost of producing print materials is in the printing -- the paper stock and the kind of ink you select, for example. An experienced graphic designer should be able to design pieces that can help minimize the cost of printing.

For basic corporate kits, which typically include logo design, letterhead, envelopes, business cards and other standard corporate stationery, expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000. It is best to go for the corporate kit versus simply having your logo designed. You would end up paying almost as much for the logo alone, and if you came back later to order print materials, it could cost another $1,000 to $1,200.

While most graphic designers may charge $50 to $75 per hour, avoid starting this relationship on a per-hour rate and work at a project rate instead. You and the new vendor will almost certainly require more time to complete the project as you establish a working relationship, which can translate into extra dollars for you.

Whether you want to breathe some life into stale print materials or you are looking to create a snappy brochure to send out to your best clients, the right graphic designer is going to help you shine. But the first step to success is to get off on the right foot.

BuyerZone.com 2003 - Mie-Yun Lee http://www.buyerzone.com/features/savvy_shopper/ss061503.html





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