I’m not sure where society went wrong. Somewhere between Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Milli Vanilli winning a Grammy it has become socially acceptable to critique a designer using ridiculous catch phrases like “make it pop” or “take it to the next level.” You wouldn’t visit your car mechanic in the shop while he is pinned under your car and ask him if he could give your car a little more “vrooom vrooooom” so why on earth would you expect a designer to understand what “make it more designy” is supposed to mean?
If I could give one piece of advice to anyone out there looking to hire someone to design their website it is this. Find a designer or a company that you really like the style of. Look through their examples and imagine your logo on each of the sites and determine whether you like it or not. If you do, hire them and leave them alone to do what they do best. If you don’t, go find someone else! Don’t hire a duck and expect them to moo like a cow.
That’s not to say that you can’t provide feedback, but “freshen it up” or “make it more alive” is not coherent feedback to a designer. Put yourself in their hands. Let them do what they know works! If you did your homework and found the right designer, they likely see something that you don’t and are looking out for your best interest!
Oh, and if you do decide to give them full creative freedom, please don’t tell them to “let their creative juices flow.” That’s equally as annoying.