Hiring a graphic designer can be a great decision. Whether that designer is helping with a logo, marketing materials, or presentation graphics, he or she can take your visual communication to the next level. But how do you know if you are hiring a good one?

After you’ve checked out the design portfolios of a few candidates, it’s time to narrow the field. We suggest using the following three questions to guide you toward the right designer.

1. Do You Know and Follow the Trends?

In recent years, design has become a faster paced industry. Some have likened it to fashion design where trends are seasonal. Here’s the main problem with that comparison. In the world of fashion design, it’s good if you are wearing the hot trends. But in graphic design, if your marketing materials and presentation visuals look like what everyone else is currently doing, you’ll blend in. And the minute you blend in, you or your company essentially fades to background noise.

A good design stands out. Therefore, when it comes time to hire a graphic designer, you need someone who understands what the current trends are. But you also need someone who isn’t afraid to break those and color outside the lines a little bit, so that your company really makes an impact.

2. Are You Focused on User Experience?

A great graphic designer understands the purposes of a logo. Paul Rand designed corporate logos for IBM, UPS, and ABC. He said, “The only mandate in logo design is that they be distinctive, memorable and clear.”

Those first two qualities, distinctive and memorable, are perhaps the more exciting goals your designer needs to accomplish. However, it’s just as important that you hire someone who can create a clear concept. After all, the design isn’t for the designer or for you, even. It’s for the audience. The consumers. A great designer always has the users in mind. Rand says, “Design is the secret ambassador of your brand.” It goes before you and comes after you. It is talking even when you aren’t. Make sure what your graphic designer is communicating creates a clear and positive user experience.

3. Can You Articulate the Reasoning Behind Your Design Decisions?

When designer Paul Rand was hired to redesign IBM’s logo, he was all about the details. But changing the font just slightly and lengthening the serifs wasn’t cutting it. Rand said the problem was that the letters in the logo had different visual weights. In order to create “unity and to suggest speed and dynamism,” he introduced the stripes.

When hiring a designer, look for someone who can articulate and justify his or her design decisions. Your designer should be able to explain why something doesn’t work and how that can be remedied. And if the designer simply says, “this looks better,” that won’t cut it. Look for someone who can tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it. This, in turn, helps you learn a little bit about graphic design in the process.

It can be tough to choose a graphic designer. And this list doesn’t cover every question you might want to ask. But let these less obvious questions guide your decision. Then once you’ve hired the right person for the job, you can watch as your visual communication takes off with new beauty, clarity, and impact.

The designers at Ethos3 don’t do boring. They do brilliant. Ready to make your visual communication shine?

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