Real Estate Branding Tips: How to Hire a Graphic Designer
By Matthew Bushery
About Website Design
Developing marketing materials by yourself can be a strenuous task — especially if you’re not skilled in The Art of Photoshop. But professional marketing collateral helps you in limitless ways. It bolsters your brand, impresses potential customers, and underscores your professionalism.
That means knowing how to hire a graphic designer should be a top priority. These professionals can help you fashion everything from print materials (like real estate postcards and reports) to digital files (like banner ads and social posts). Before you begin to search for the right graphic designer, it’s essential to figure out exactly what materials you need created.
Determine your real estate graphic design needs and goals.
Aside from having a great sense of style and form, and knowing all of the technical details that go into effective design, the graphic designer you hire should have an understanding of your goals and know what your current real estate marketing collateral looks like to get a sense of what you prefer.
Decide what you want your graphic designer to achieve before researching candidates who specialize in real estate graphic design. Questions to ask yourself that can help determine what direction to go with your branding include:
- Do I need a real estate logo? If so, what examples can I show a graphic designer to demonstrate what I’m looking for?
- What is my graphic design budget? How will that affect which graphic designer I hire?
- Where do I plan to use my graphic design collateral: strictly for my online real estate marketing or offline too?
- When do I need my material posted? Do other marketing tactics hinge on the readiness of this collateral?
Analyze others’ branding to help craft your own.
Look at other agents’ real estate branding to find examples of work you want completed. Be sure to examine what popular and successful brands do to establish their visual identities, especially their logos, and jot notes about what you like (and don’t like) about them. For instance, indicate what aspects of a font, color scheme, shape, or other aesthetic elements really inspire you or catch your eye. Your logo should be something people love to look at, but something they will also remember after having seen it a limited number of times.
In the SlideShare below, we provide more than 100 different logos you can peruse to see what makes them succeed, and perhaps use some of them as examples with the graphic designer you end up hiring so they know what you’re looking to achieve with your real estate logo:
Don’t look just at other companies’ logos, but also at their overall branding strategies. Take note of where they implement their branding, if they have a signature image or photo used in their collateral, and anything else that distinguishes their brand from others. Just be sure that when you show prospective designers branding you like that you articulate your preferences clearly. Otherwise, they won’t know how to create the branding materials you need — or won’t even want to work with you because of your lack of vision and specificity.
Know where and how you intend to use your design collateral.
Once you have a firm idea of what you’d like a real estate graphic design specialist to produce, consider all of the places you could use their designs. Your real estate website is the first and foremost place to implement your new branding materials — after all, your site is the foundation of your entire marketing strategy.
After your site is set with the design collateral, ensure your social media accounts include it as well. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest each have their own unique image sizes and layouts that allow brands to exhibit their logos. Sprout Social consistently updates the latest image dimensions needed for each major social media platform, so inform the designer you hire to create images based on those specifications.
Email marketing is another valuable place where you’ll want to incorporate designs created. Include your logo atop each message you send to your email lists. Also, assuming you send multiple types of email to your leads, have your designer put together unique header images featuring the theme of the email. For instance, if you send a weekly newsletter titled “What You Missed This Week in [Market Name Here],” have your designer craft distinct images for that campaign.
Other imperative places to put your real estate branding, both online and offline, include:
- Business cards: Despite sites like LinkedIn making it easier to show off your resume and background, business cards aren’t going away anytime soon, so stylishly promote yourself on them.
- Print materials: From flyers and posters to pamphlets and brochures, it’s important to make your company name stick out (along with the listings you promote, of course).
- Free swag: T-shirts, pens, coasters, refrigerator magnets — whatever moderately priced trinkets you offer your audience, make sure your business name and logo are prominently displayed on them.
- Listing presentations: Salesmanship is vital to win over seller business, but without strong visuals as well, your pitch may fall flat — just one of many mistakes to avoid with listing presentations.
- Multimedia content: Whether it’s slideshows created on SlideShare, videos developed for YouTube, or e-magazines produced using Flipboard, ensure your branding is used on content accordingly.
- Downloadable resources: Did you write long-form content (e.g. ebook, report, whitepaper) that requires a form completion to download? Include your designs in your work.
Working in the graphic design field requires a significant amount of talent, creativity, and a devotion to perfection. Some agents may think that, because of this, these professionals all charge an arm and a leg to hire, but that’s simply not the case. There are many designers out there — freelance, full-time, and otherwise — who charge an array of different rates depending on the type of work needed, the amount of time required for turnaround, and many other factors.
Check out any graphic design marketplace online and you’ll see there are several distinct types of designers you can hire. For example, a service like Dribbble features thousands of designers for hire, each of whom specializes in a certain niche of design work, has their own artistic style, and charges a different amount per job.
If you don’t want to (or simply can’t) take the time to research designers on sites like Dribbble, there are services like Behance, where you can post job listings for design work and let the designers come to you. Having said that, the site still offers plenty of designer work examples you can examine to get marketing ideas.
Google offers another helpful avenue. Search for graphic designers who have lots of reviews and testimonials on their websites and social media accounts. Surf their sites to discover their portfolios, client commentary, affiliations, history working in the field, and even to see if they’ve won any awards to ascertain their potential as a fit for your needs.
Once you’ve exhausted exploring marketplaces and Googling designers, check in with peers and colleagues as well to see if they’ve worked with a designer before. Online reviews and testimonials can aid your search, but good word of mouth from a fellow agent or broker can prove more useful — as can actually seeing their real estate branding examples in action.
Narrow down your search and interview the top candidates.
The research phase of selecting a graphic designer can be the longest part of the process, but an essential part nonetheless. Conducting due diligence in your search for the best graphic designer to hire means you can narrow down your list of prospective candidates to the cream of the crop — those you think can create the best real estate branding collateral for your needs in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Select as many graphic designers that you think you could potentially hire and gather their contact details. Once you’ve reached out to them and set up interviews (video conferencing is just as good as an in-person one), develop a list of questions to ask them regarding their 5 “E”s:
- Expertise: What do the candidates specialize in regarding graphic design styles, collateral, etc.?
- Examples: Do you like their past design work? Does their work have elements you’d like for your real estate branding material?
- Education: Where did they study graphic design? Do they have any special certifications or designations?
- Expectations: Do you feel both you and prospective designers are on the same page regarding the work you want done?
- Editing: Are they flexible regarding requested edits? What’s their policy regarding edits after the work’s done?
How much a designer charges and your budget are also obvious factors that will impact who you hire. Ask each candidate how they charge — hourly, daily, per project, etc. — and what goes into their costs. For instance, offering several different file sizes and types (JPEG, PNG, EPS, and similar image types) of your branding collateral and in different color schemes may cost more than fewer file sizes, types, and color schemes.
“It can be tricky because the price each designer charges varies,” said Placester User Interaction Designer Alexandra Moran. “A common practice is to charge per project, though each designer will have their own pricing methods.”
Let your designer get to work — but monitor their progress.
After you hire a graphic designer you feel comfortable working with, it’s time to give them the lowdown on what you’re looking to get from them and, eventually, the space they need to bring your design dreams to life. However, it’s also important to set specific guidelines as to when you need the project to be completed and discuss how often you will meet to go over the progress.
Suggest a schedule that works best for you — meaning one that allows for relatively frequent checkups — and designate a specific date you intend to have the designer finish their work. If they’re a contracted designer, add language pertaining to these check-ins and due date in the terms you set. If they work by the hour and prefer to simply agree to have the work done when you need it, then it becomes more important to consistently maintain communications with them.
Moran added that it’s vital for agents to be completely forward with the designer they employ so that neither side ends up wasting valuable time and resources.
“Be as upfront with your designer as you can,” she said. “Tell them what you want, and listen when they answer to see if they can provide it for you. Then, at every step of the process, ask yourself ‘Am I closer to getting my desired final product?’ If the answer’s yes, then great. If not, tell — don’t attack — your designer why the work feels off and ask how it fits into the mutually agreed upon plan.”
Review your real estate graphic designer’s work.
Assuming everything goes to plan and you secure the branding collateral you desired, then it’s time to analyze the results. Did the designer complete their tasks on time? Did their work meet (or even exceed) your expectations? Was their work worth the price they charged?
One thing to keep in mind is your graphic designer may ask you to help promote their business by linking to their website from your site and credit them in your other marketing collateral. You shouldn’t have to cite them for their work in your actual designs, but if they completed satisfactory work for you, it’s best to give them some form of credit.
“If you’re uncomfortable citing a designer for their work, bring it up before they get to work to see what can be agreed upon,” said Moran. “You may also want to notify your designer if there are any confidential pieces they are designing that you don’t want them to include in their portfolios. However, consider that having your website in their portfolio is a little bit of free real estate marketing.”
Looking to hire a graphic designer to create real estate promotional items for your business? Share how you plan to create your branding strategy.
Published on March 4, 2015
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.