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3 Tips for Better Collaborations Between Internal Communications & Design

POSTED ON 
July 6, 2022

I have spent my career in communications and consider myself to be a career storyteller -- taking client messaging and anecdotes and transforming them into captivating, informative and engaging stories. And while words are powerful, they are one piece of a much larger puzzle when it comes to bringing a client’s story to life.  

We all understand the value of bringing design into the mix, but if you are like me, working with designers can be intimidating. I consider myself to be creative, but when it comes to designing and developing visually engaging content, that’s where my brain checks out.  

Sometimes, it feels like designers speak a completely different language, which can feel overwhelming when trying to collaborate on a project.  

Since this is something I am still working on, I leaned on Brilliant Ink’s resident design expert, Claire Turk, to get her thoughts. Between my learnings and her expertise, we came up with the following 3 tips and tricks on how internal communication pros can best partner with their designers and design teams:  

1. COLLABORATION IS KEY

Bring the designer into the fold as early as possible. This allows them to familiarize themselves with the scope of the project and raise any flags, questions or ideas sooner rather than later so you can be proactive.

When possible, have the designer on the call with your stakeholder(s) so they can hear the requests, background, or feedback first-hand. This removes the need to play the dreaded game of telephone and allows the designers to ask questions directly.  

2. CLEAR IS KIND

Clear and detailed is the way to go when it comes to delivering broad strokes of feedback or singular line edits on deliverables. If the designer has dropped the ball, do not be afraid to communicate what missed the mark so they understand the impact and can course correct on future projects.  

Worst case, if you don’t know how to SAY something, SHOW them what you mean. Examples are always greatly appreciated when trying to land on and work through a creative concept. After all, designers are often visual learners and thinkers!

Setting clear expectations and guidance from the very beginning is also important. You wouldn’t tell a writer to create a piece of content without providing them with the details – audience, tone, length, key messages. The same holds true for designers.  

They cannot be expected to create something out of nothing – they are humans not magicians! Make sure to do your due diligence and get as much information from the stakeholders as possible before proceeding with a design request.

Avoid the following phrases when giving design feedback: "Can you make this pop?" "I'm just not feeling it." "We need to spruce this up."
Avoid the following phrases when giving design feedback. They are vague and provide no actionable direction for the designer to take. Instead, be explicit about the problem you are trying to solve so the designer can figure out how to best carry out the task.  

3. CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR  

You didn’t go to school to study design (and that’s ok), so no one expects you to have all the answers. At the end of the day, don’t forget that you are the communications expert.  

If you are confused about something, or don’t understand, speak up and ASK! Likewise, if you are feeling frustrated, SAY something. Asking for help is hard – we get it! But leaning on your designers for their expertise will go a long way in building client relationships and producing stellar work.  

Remember there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to design processes and elements. If you need some education around best practices or what to look out for when you’re reviewing speak up.  

Ask the designer to walk you through their reasoning behind the design decisions they made. They are the experts, so don’t be afraid to lean on them when you need to. You won't learn without asking questions.

Also, stand up for your designers and their processes. There may be times when your team loves what they created but your stakeholder(s) may not be on the same page. If you believe in the idea, you can push back with poise, offer suggestions, align internally and bring something back to the client. Plus, nothing builds trust amongst your team like having each other’s backs.

That being said, do not doubt your own creative abilities. Just because you are a comms pro, that doesn’t mean you can’t weigh in on design aspects of a project, especially if you know the stakeholder, audience and what they respond to. This is a collaborative effort!

DESIGNERS HELP OUR WORK SHINE  

Without them our work is confined to uninspired and boring word docs. Engaging content is about more than crafting a compelling story. Design is what truly transforms a narrative into an experience. Without it, you run the risk of your content falling flat.  

So, next time you have an opportunity to collaborate with a designer, remember that collaboration is key, clear communication is kind communication, and to check your ego at the door (you don’t have to know all the answers! Teamwork!). A collaborative and productive working relationship with your designers leads to brilliant end products and happy stakeholders excited to work with you again. Sounds like a win to me!  

If you’re feeling like you could use the help of a designer but don’t know where to go, drop us a line! Our team of brilliant communicators and designers would love to help you create beautiful content and build engaging employee experiences.

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

Sonia Segal-Smith
SENIOR STRATEGIST

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