Let’s start with what a design brief is.
Put simply, it’s a document that is used to capture a company’s challenges, values and objectives before designing a logo, webpage or site or any other marketing materials. This document guarantees that all persons involved are on the same page and understand what the end result needs to be – and that’s exceeding client’s expectations – of course!
For some businesses, you may have an in-house graphic designer so a company background or detailed brief can seem unnecessary. However, don’t be fooled – this can be a graphic designer’s worst nightmare. Direction is key for graphic designers regardless if they are in house or an external freelancer you have hired. If you have a vision, your designer wants to hear it to get their own creative juices flowing!
So now that we know what a brief is,
let’s get to the how so no designer (or you) are left feeling uncertain about an end product and wondering why it didn’t work out.
To begin with, you want to provide as much background information about your company as you can. So, what does this entail? Well ask yourself (and record your answers) to questions such as:
Thinking about what problems your products or service might solve or offer people.
FUN TIP TIME! (FTT);
If you have any previous examples of marketing material that embody the above questions or a website or brand book, this should all be provided to your graphic designer as well. The more info and visual ideas they can have of your company the better.
Next, you will want to add some information about the who. So, who is your target market? You have to let your graphic designer know who you are trying to reach. Significant details such as:
Use your competition to guide your graphic designer towards what you do and don’t want to do. It’s a good idea to take a look at those in similar businesses. Look at what they are doing in the marketplace, how they are doing it and most importantly what you dislike and like about their approaches.
FTT! With all competition, you want to stand out and be the leader in your industry. So, it’s a good idea to also let your graphic designer know how your business is different to your competitors as well.
You have completed a summary of your business, what you stand for and who you are targeting – let’s get down to the content!
It’s perfectly fine (and normal) if you have a million ideas floating around for your graphic designer. A lot of creatives and businesses are looking to the designer for the direction. But, the more information and ideas, the better! So, you will need to explain your vision to your graphic designer. You could do this by providing the following:
FTT! If you are providing your graphic designer with an image or other content, make sure you have permission to use these resources for your own advertising. For example; you cannot use an image of a celebrity to promote your sunglasses if you have not paid for that usage.
You can then summarise your end goal for the graphic designer.
Some goals could be selling more products, developing your own brand awareness or increasing traffic to your website or physical space. Once you have this confirmed, you will know what mood you want your goal to convey.
A mood? Yeah! It’s a thing and not just for that teenager you know.
You want your content to be emotive and engaging, but you will need to communicate to your graphic designer what feelings or messages you want to evoke from the content. Examples of this could be whether you want your image to make someone laugh or feel sympathy. If you want it to feel new or conventional. There are so many emotions to discover in regards to your content.
And now we enter the specifics. Where do you want your content to go?
It’s so important to brief the deliverables to your graphic designer. Why? Because it’s not a small job sizing and changing mediums for different platforms after the design has been created. Ideally, your graphic designer will want to know this from the start, so the design is translating to each platform with ease and not requiring a rework of the design!
So where is your content going? This is where your audience, mood and other factors discussed above come into play.
Social media platforms will be the most common, so that’s your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and so on. There are a variety of ad specifications and content dimensions for these platforms. You can read about the different dimensions for different platforms here (let me know if you want me to make a dimensions cheat sheet).
In addition to the platforms, will you design need to be web-based or for print – or both? Is it going to be a brochure design that in future could convert into a poster? These are all factors you will need to work out and have briefed in your initial contact with your graphic designer.
Finally, what your graphic designer really wants to know is, “how long do I have?”. Creating a timeline or a schedule allows for both you and your graphic designer to work to realistic targets for the job to be complete. Be sure to take into account things such as the design process, concept development, revisions and delivery of the final content. If you are working to a launch date or any other specific date, it’s extremely important to loop your graphic designer into this schedule. This way, a clear communication of what is expected is set for the both of you.
So, you have done your bit of providing an in-depth creative brief, but what should the graphic designer deliver to you? As mentioned above, your brief and the deliverables should be discussed with your graphic designer or the client before any work can start.
By rule of thumb if you have briefed your graphic designer to complete a print project, you can expect them to ask what out of the following is to be provided:
For web projects, a graphic designer will ask if what out of the following is to be provided:
Finally any logo, branding or content work, a graphic designer will ask if you want the following to be provided:
Each project will have its own needs and tool requirements so it’s important you are clear with your graphic designer in regards to what you actually need from above so nothing is left out, or you are charged and time was spent on something you did not require.
Generally as mentioned above, a graphic designer does not provide you with the original working files. This is okay and normal, as you only want the finished product, right? If for some reason you want the working file, there will most likely be an additional fee. Why is this the case? As a rule of thumb, graphic designers retain the original format files such as the actual photoshop, illustrator or InDesign files. You, the client will receive the resulting jpg, png, PDF, etc. This is to protect a graphic designer work and their name as a designer.
This is why it is important you as a client provide a detailed brief and the expected end requirements and goals before the job begins. If you do require the original format files, it needs to be in the agreement between you both. Also, if this is the case, it is common that the graphic designer will then reserve their copyright to their designs, and you require the copyright, you can be charged more for that too unless again, it has been discussed in the brief prior to the job beginning.
In summary, if you are subcontracting your design work to a graphic designer, you will need to complete an in-depth creative brief using the points above and know your expectations and what you require to be delivered. The more you can specify in your original conversations and brief the better – isn’t that how life works anyway? Good luck!