What To Do When Your Designer Doesn’t Understand You

Logos, websites, digital and print ads, package designs, letterheads and business cards. Designers play a huge role in shaping how you present yourself to the world. No matter how good a product or service you provide, you need the right designs to get your messages across.

But what happens when you can’t get your messages across to your designer? You write out what you think is a detailed brief but something gets lost in translation. Your graphic designer returns something unexpected. You might be disappointed, annoyed, frustrated or all of the above. 

Well, let’s see how we can get through that barrier to form a better relationship with your designer.

First of all, take a breather

You have the design open on your computer screen and you are fuming because it is not what you expected at all. But wait a minute. Fight down the instinct to call your designer and scold them for not getting it right. While it might feel good to get your frustration out, it’s important to find constructive ways forward. Take a few minutes to evaluate the design.  And try to do so with a calm mind. As the saying goes, you can’t see a clear reflection in boiling waters.

Now, can you find anything in line with what you’d like in your design? Will a few tweaks do the trick? Sometimes in seeing what you don’t want, you may still see a few elements that you’d like to incorporate. Maybe this design has something in it that you didn’t know you needed. To figure this out, clarity is key. So, if you’re still seeing red close your eyes and count to ten. Now try again to define what’s working and what doesn’t so you can provide specific directions for the next draft.

Where did it go wrong?

Let your designer know what you don’t like about the design. Maybe it’s the font choice? Or the size of the font? It could be the colour scheme or the pictures they used. Whatever the elements are that aren’t working, let your designer know. 

Using a screen recording can be very helpful here to walk through step by step. It may take a while if there’s a lot you don’t like but it’s important to get closer to landing on a design you love. Give your graphic designer another chance. With more insight into what you’re looking for they might just pleasantly surprise you in the next round.

Was your initial idea possible?

Sometimes what we imagine as a magical unicorn in our minds might just look like a pony on paper. It happens to the best of the best. Your graphic designer did exactly what you asked for. And it turned out…well, there’s no nice way to say hideous. Depending on the comfort level your graphic designer has with you, they may have erred with creating a bad looking design over challenging your vision.

Be sure to give your designer a chance to explain how they approached the design and made the choices they did. There’s a chance that your designer tried to create the exact unicorn you asked them to design. But there wasn’t enough magic in the world to make it work.

Examples are always helpful 

When words don’t quite cut it, use an example of what you want. For example, do you like a particular logo with unique colours? Send an image of that to your designer. Screenshots are a super-easy way to share examples of what you like, especially when you’re on the go. Less is not more here, so send as many examples as you can and mention what you particularly like in each. Screen recordings can be handy here as well.

With these additional resources on hand, your designer will be able to reimagine your design project with greater clarity. 

Revisions! Revisions!!

If you are not happy with your design, ask for a revision. Good designers are always happy to revise the work they have done and refine it according to their customer’s preferences. At Kimp we offer unlimited revisions for this reason. Of course, this will mean more time. And as they say, time is money. But the investment you make in building a stronger relationship with your graphic designer will save you time and time again in the future. 

It’ll also help you with determining timelines for projects going forward (e.g. budgeting more time for different drafts and going through rounds of feedback). If you have the flexibility, budgeting more time for multiple drafts can mean coming across concepts you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Does your designer know what you need?

Never hesitate to ask that question. Your designer will follow your instructions. But they may still not understand what you need. Be sure to ask questions and answer questions throughout the design process. Communication is the key to getting pretty much anything done to your satisfaction. Talk to the designer and explain at length the kind of design you need. Elaborate on why you need that kind of design so they understand the significance of different elements. Perhaps they should only be using certain stock images and there’s no way around that. 

Let them know the deal breakers and give them a chance to ask questions. The more they understand you, the better the design becomes.

Do you know what you need?

In some cases the design you get back ticks all the boxes on the list of your requirements. But it’s just not right. Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because the requirements you have do not complement each other for this particular design. Consult your designer on that. Let them know what the gap is between where the design is and where you want it to be. Give them a chance to figure out the right combination of elements to create the perfect piece. Analyze your wants and needs for the design and be ready to let go of some things that may simply weigh down the design. And be willing to add something new to make it a masterpiece.

Mood boards are quite helpful

Take a few minutes to put together a few ideas and suggestions on a mood board. It can be really fun for you and you will get a better understanding of how your design will look when it comes together. But most importantly it will convey your vision and emotions to your designer. Once they get the idea, they will carry it out.

Context is everything

Share your competitors’ websites, ad creatives and other relevant designs with your graphic designer. Help them understand who your rivals are and who you aspire to be. Be sure also to let them know who you absolutely don’t want to have any similarity to – and why! 

These nuances are important so that your graphic designer understands where the bar is set.  And they’ll help your dedicated designer get the job done. Because they’re in this with you. When you win, they do too. So they’ve got your back.


Feedback is important and designers like to hear how they can improve. Design is a never-ending process. No one can learn everything about it. So every designer is competing with themselves, and each other, to get better. Give them a hand, would you?

Tell them where they need to pay more attention to the design. Tell them what more they can do for you. You will be surprised at how fast they learn and improve once they get a bit more guidance as to your expectations and needs.

Like any other industry, the graphic design industry is extremely competitive. We observe, we absorb inspiration and we aim to improve on a daily basis. Do not give up on your graphic designer over a single unsatisfying design. Take another chance. They might just turn the whole thing around just by changing one colour or typeface.