How to Set Yourself Apart Series: Junior Graphic Designer

Monday, January 22nd, 2024

How to Set Yourself Apart Series: Junior Graphic Designer

There are some things you can’t forget, no matter how many years pass. I can still remember when I started out as a mail boy at a design firm in Hong Kong, despite the fact it was about 40 years ago. The sentiment toward designers back then was harsh and unrelenting. It was tough to develop confidence in such an environment, so now it’s my goal to help junior graphic designers who are in the same place I once was.

Find Your Unique Value Proposition

Who do you enjoy working with most? Do they fit into a specific category, and do they have something in common? If that’s the case, they’re your target audience, and defining that is the first step of learning how to stand out. Having a unique value proposition (UVP) means that you’ve set yourself apart from the competition.

Now that you know who you want to reach, here are some things you can do to reach your target audience:

  • Learn what your audience needs. What problems do they run into when choosing a designer? Anticipate them and head off their concerns by showing you have a solution.
  • Learn what you do well. How are you uniquely gifted to help your customers? What skills do you bring to the table?
  • Weigh the consequences. If a client doesn’t choose you, what will they miss out on? What’s something that you can offer them that no one else could?
  • Create meaningful designs. Think about the elements you can include that will be meaningful to your audience. Tell them you’d like to incorporate them. “Speaking their language” is a well-known marketing strategy, but it works in visual communication too.

Consider Adding Technology to Your Service

As a junior graphic designer, chances are that you’ve already implemented technology to some degree. Whether that means you hand-draw some of your logos using a tablet and touch them up using Adobe Illustrator or have an entire arsenal of tech at your fingertips is up to you. 

While I personally recommend you don’t go chasing after the newest, shiny thing, I do recommend you think carefully about whether adding new pieces of tech to your service can streamline your processes and make your life easier. 

Here are some suggestions of tech you might want to consider:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud. We’ve listed some free software below, but since Creative Cloud is heavily discounted for students, we thought it was worth a mention!
  • CloudCampaign. If you have several clients with social media accounts, posting instantly across platforms can save you a lot of time. 
  • Slack/Discord. Do your clients like to work closely with you? Offering them a way to reach out quickly can enable you to develop a better customer relationship. 
  • Inkscape. How junior a graphic designer are you? If you can’t afford the cash to put toward pricey Adobe Illustrator, “free” is a nice alternative!
  • MailChimp. If your clients like sending out email campaigns, this could be a great way to streamline the process and create custom templates you’ll use over and over. 
  • WordPress. Planning to build websites? Then you’ll want to get acquainted with how WordPress works as soon as possible.
  • iStockPhoto. Face it – typical stock photos are used everywhere. Getting an iStockPhoto (or other premium photo) account will give you a better chance of finding the perfect image to pair with your design.

Upskill As Much As You Can

In many ways, getting consistent work is the best way you can upskill. As you learn about different industries, niches, and cultures, you’ll find yourself applying that information to the work you’re doing. 

That said, here are some things that you can learn (outside of typical design work) that can help make you even more marketable and appealing to potential customers:

  • Video editing. Video editing deserves its own category. Depending on how intense the video editing needs to be, you might need to fix things frame by frame
  • Copywriting. Designing a website means doing more than handling the images – you may also need to develop the brand voice and create service pages for your clients. 
  • Motion graphics. Learn to create graphics that will grab the attention of your clients and their prospective customers. 
  • Social media. Each social media platform has different rules, and those rules differ depending on whether you’re producing organic content or advertising. Getting familiar with each platform (and specializing in one or two) can get you noticed. 

Make Saying “Yes” to You Easy

With a willingness to learn as much as you can and a desire to blow your customers’ minds, you’ll be difficult for customers to say no to. Review your client onboarding processes regularly to be sure that they’re as smooth and hitch-free as possible.

They’ll happily sign on the dotted line!

More Tips From Matcha Design in Tulsa

At Matcha Design, we strive to give our readers practical tips that they can apply toward their projects. Our goal is to build the next generation of graphic designers and leaders by nurturing creativity, problem-solving, and out-of-the-box thinking. Learn more at our blog!

About the author: Chris Lo is the founder and CEO of Matcha Design.

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit MatchaDesign.com.

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