When you here the term Graphic Design, what do you think of?

This is important- as it can help define if you actually need one. Let's start with what a designer isn't.

It's not someone that knows how to use art based programs like Adobe Illustrator. Most designers do know how to use this software, but that isn't what makes you a designer. When I started, we used Paste-up, T Squares and Triangles, and Magic Markers. I went for quite some time before I even touched a computer. These programs are tools. They make things easier, but they don't make a designer, anymore than a hammer makes you a carpenter.

It's not someone that fulfills your vision. Or another way to put it is someone that fleshes out the design that you have in your head. A designer can do this, but that's really what might be considered a desktop publisher. “Put my logo here, and my address here. Use 10 pt. Arial font.”

So what is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is someone that takes the rules of art and applies them to a business setting. Or another definition is creating order out of chaos. Designers spend a lot of time learning about art. Art history, art and color theory, drawing, etc. The rules are usually the same. They're based on how the brain perceives the information that is presented to it and what the best use of color, type, and layout will achieve the desired results.

What a designer does is design  This may sound like an over simplification, but this is the truth. If you want to make the best use of the designer that you've hired, tell the designer what you want to achieve, not how you want to achieve it. For instance, let's say you want to make an ad. Don't tell the designer where to place everything, but instead ask yourself why you're making the ad. Do you want to push a certain product? Do you want to make people aware of the company? Do you want to create more appointments? Tell that to the designer. The designer will then design the ad based on what you've told them.