“Make It Pretty” – The graphic designer’s common request

by | Mar 3, 2020 | Branding

Ask a Graphic Designer or Art Director to “make this pretty”. Watch their eyes roll.

After 20 years of graphic design, branding, and creative directing, I’ve lost count of the times that a co-worker, boss, or client has asked me to make a presentation, flyer, form, logo, or business card pretty.

Perfect landing

Understandably, some designers might be offended by the tone of this request. It’s like asking Simone Biles to just “do a little routine.” Ms. Biles doesn’t just flip around on a mat. She’s been training her body since she was barely able to walk so that she can run, jump, and leap into the air at heights that most NBA players can’t even reach. And she doesn’t just do a backflip – she hurls her body into the air and effortlessly completes multiple twists and flips and then lands flawlessly on her two feet. To say she “did a little routine” diminishes the value of the years of hard work, training, and skill that it takes to pull off her flawless signature moves and record-breaking routines.

So, maybe graphic designers didn’t start training to design presentations and materials when we were four years old. Nonetheless, most designers spend at least two years of training to be able to master color theory, layout, and composition. We toil over which color palette or font will complement each other. We spend HOURS looking for the perfect image to place in a company brochure or website. The skill that it takes to master the Adobe Creative Suite takes months or years to become proficient enough to create beautifully designed logos, brochures, business cards, websites, and other marketing collateral.

I respect any self-made designer who has studied the craft of design on their own, watching YouTube tutorials to learn how to push pixels (designer-talk for designing) or create a kick-ass brochure layout.

An experienced designer should be asking questions before they approach your project. Questions, like these:

  • Who needs to see and notice this piece? (Target Audience)
  • How can I make people understand the information in this material? (Clear messaging)
  • What type of imagery do we have access to? Original photos or stock photos?
  • What’s the key take-away from this piece? What do we want people to do? (Call-to-action)
  • Is this design consistent with what the target audience expects to see from this brand? (Brand Guidelines)
  • How will the material be delivered? Digital? Print?
  • Do I have all the information I need to complete this project or are there other stakeholders to involve? (Approval process)
  • What’s the appropriate tone to deliver this information? Formal. informal, passionate, informative, humorous? Messaging and Guidelines

Making things pretty (a.k.a graphic design) is what we do and we’re honored to do it. Just make sure that your graphic designer doesn’t just make your marketing assets look nice, but they’re actually effective in delivering the message you’re trying to convey. Hire an experienced designer that asks thoughtful questions that will portray your brand in a positive light.

At Heart & Hustle, our design process starts with you. We find out about what, how, and why you do what you do so we can create brand assets that convey your message the right way.

Example of brand assets “made pretty”

Stacey Harrison

About the Author

Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.