Good Grief! So Many Exclamation Points, It Must Be a Graphic Design Emergency!

There’s been a lot of talk about emergencies recently, both in the national news and in my office—there are days where it feels like every new project in my inbox needs to be done RIGHT NOW!! 

Some design requests really are urgent, and I do my best to get things done quickly. Then, there are others, like when a client doesn’t realize what they’re asking for is an emergency on my end, or it’s not really as urgent as they think it is, after all.

How can you tell the difference between situations?

Not all graphic design emergencies are created equal, so here are a few common scenarios with various “threat levels”:

Your project really is an emergency (for everyone) if there’s a problem with it and it has a hard deadline. Let’s say you’re hosting a conference, and the printed programs are delivered two days beforehand. You open one to find the main sponsor logo is missing due to a printing error—yikes!—clearly something that is an emergency and needs to be fixed immediately. A good designer will drop everything to help you come up with a plan to correct the situation right away.

Your project is an emergency (for your designer) if she has less than 24 hours to complete it. Even if a project is small, same-day deadlines can be a big disruption. Your designer will want to help, but depending on her schedule that day, other projects may need to shift to make yours the priority, which can be really stressful. And sometimes, despite the best of intentions, rush projects just can’t happen on a given day. It never hurts to ask if something is possible, but if the turnaround is that tight, be aware of what you might be asking her to do for you.

Your project is emergency-lite (or emergency adjacent) if it’s “nice to have” rather than “must have.” So you got some free space in a magazine and the print deadline is this afternoon? Sure, it would be nice to take advantage of the free advertising, but you won’t be any worse off if it doesn’t happen. Ask your designer if the deadline works for him, sans the drop-everything emergency status.

Your project is really not a graphic design emergency if the deadline isn’t hard and fast…you just want it done sooner. We’ve all had the experience of rushing something through for a client, boss or customer, only to have them sit on it and take forever to respond—clearly not urgent after all. A good designer will do whatever possible to make emergency requests happen, so it’s a good idea to be respectful of their time and be honest about the real deadlines. If you mention that you have a deadline but would like something sooner for some particular reason, she will try to accommodate you, but with much less stress and more goodwill.

Whether it’s a real graphic design emergency or not, remember to use the “!!” settings on your emails sparingly. Rather than send multiple emails with a priority setting, a single email with an “all of the items for this event are urgent” notice will work just fine. I guarantee that your designer knows what to do from there and will feel a lot less stressed—equaling better end results for your design. Finally, gratitude goes a long way in ensuring your designer will be available for the next urgent item.

Are you looking for a graphic designer who can help you juggle deadlines and provide darn good design? Reach out to Weiher Creative for the expert, dependable agency partnership your organization deserves.

And if you’re wondering what it’s like to work with a design agency—or you’re considering a new one—pick up my FREE report, 7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Graphic Designer, and get started on finding your go-to provider.