How to… brief a designer

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Your guide to making sure your first brief encounter with a new designer leads to outstanding results and kick-starts a great working relationship…

The basics – write clearly, concisely and avoid jargon that’s specific only to your industry. Be honest. Be realistic. Be aware that it’s a designer’s job to design. You are there to guide them.
Tell them your business – Reveal what exactly your company does, its history and current marketplace, USPs and list its key competitors.
Detail your end goals – are you looking to sell a product? Raise awareness? Maybe attract enquiries or new subscribers? Additionally, explain where their design will sit within the ‘bigger picture’ e.g. other promotional streams such as social networking.
Be clear on deliverables – give a detailed breakdown of each item that needs creating e.g. website, marketing brochure, business cards etc.
Who have you set your sights on? Share target audience demographics (age, gender, lifestyle, location etc.) If this data isn’t available, paint your dream customer/reader in word form.
Talk time and money – including your budget and deadline information for each item/s is essential. Remember, design takes time. But if you need results yesterday, be upfront about the tight turnaround.
One step at a time – your schedule needs to be broken down into stages, for example, concept development, production and delivery. Always include time for at least two rounds of amends.
Give them exactly what they need – think logos, images (details of specific specs if required), a style guide (if you have one) and any copy that has to be incorporated into the design. Throw it all their way to save them chasing and inevitable delays.
Say what you like – a little direction isn’t the same as telling someone how to do their job so offer up basic style preferences, links to sites whose vibe you like or even the name of a TV ad or music video that has the ‘feel’ you believe can achieve your objectives.
“Oh no! I loathe monochrome!” – designers don’t read minds. Save hours of frustration on both sides by writing out what you DON’T want to see in the final product.
Missed something? It’s easy to miss something obvious when you’re close to a project. Share your brief with a handful of team members and request their input.

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