• Alison Price

How to brief your Graphic Designer

When you work with a Graphic Designer, you will need to brief them on what you want. This can often be a tricky task, so I’ve put together this blog to help you brief your Graphic Designer well.

You might know what you don’t like, but do you have a good idea of what you want?

Transferring what’s in your head to your Graphic Designer may sound overwhelming, but don’t worry, that’s what the graphic design brief is for!

Let’s dive into how to write a cracking brief for your Graphic Designer.

What does a Graphic Designer do?

In a nutshell, Graphic Designers work to a brief to create artwork either by hand, by hand digitally or using software to communicate an idea or message in visual form. Their skills are wide and varied, and outputs are too many to list here but can include static graphics for print and digital purposes, and moving graphics.

What is a design brief?

Depending on the output required, a brief is an outline of requirements that will help your Graphic Designer to create artwork that matches your style and values, as well as fulfilling the purpose of the design.

The brief is usually a series of questions which helps you to give your Graphic Designer a clear idea of what you like, what you want to communicate, and sometimes what you don’t like. And of course this will include the content you wish to appear in the graphic – text and imagery.

What happens when you work with a Graphic Designer?

Usually, the first step in the process will be to fill in the design brief or answer their questions. After that, your designer will go away and work on the artwork for your project – this could be branding, logos, social media graphics or printed materials.

Depending on the individual designer's process, you’ll usually be issued proofs and a set number of revisions. You want the least number of revisions to a job in order to maximise everyone’s time and efficiency… so you can see why the design brief is so important now!

Every Graphic Designer has their own way of doing things that works for them and their clients, but here’s mine.

Depending on the project, I usually include a couple of rounds of revisions. Having worked through the design process with many businesses, this is often enough. My briefing process is quite robust, so I have asked all the right questions before I put pen to paper (or mouse to mouse mat!).

Five key points to help your Graphic Designer

A good Graphic Designer will keep asking questions until they have all the information they need to begin your design project so if you’re forearmed with what they need you’ll save everyone valuable time.

Branding is a different kettle of fish and involves much more extensive questioning and research, but for general design projects consider these points:

1. What is the purpose of the design? i.e. what is it for and what do you want it to achieve for you? Do you want to inspire, inform, educate, sell? Knowing what the point of the digital graphic or printed item is, will help you provide the right content to your designer. In turn they will be able to design with that intention in mind.

2. Do you have branding and/or a design style in place that the designer can look at to maintain consistency with your new project? If you have a set of brand guidelines that’s the ideal, but you can also provide examples of previous designs (your website, printed leaflets, business stationery) to guide them as to your style. If you don’t have a set style then you can talk to your designer about building one for you.

3. Can you provide the elements they’ll need in a suitable format? A vectored eps is the holy grail of logo formats, so you’ll be granted many brownie points if you have one of those! Then, relevant to the design you have commissioned them to create, you’ll need to supply the exact text (don’t expect them to fill in any gaps or write copy themselves, they will simply come back to you and re-request the actual text you want). Images should be taken by a professional photographer to ensure the resolution, composition and quality required for graphic design. You also need make sure you have the relevant permissions to use the photos you are supplying. If you are struggling with this part, talk to your designer as they will be able to choose images from a stock library, sympathetic to the design, content and purpose. All content must be your own – asking a designer to copy someone else's work is a big no-no. First and foremost it contravenes copyright law but also, there are no shortcuts to success. Far better to put the time and effort into your own visual identity and presence.

4. Have you been clear with your feedback? If you have received an initial proof and it’s not quite hitting the mark, try to communicate your feedback as effectively as you can so that it can be revisited. Please do not be tempted to ask other's opinions on your proofs, and definitely don't post them on social media for comments or decisions. The relationship between you and your designer should be held in confidence and not be open to the opinions of those who haven't been through the briefing process. They are not armed with all the facts and the feedback will simply cloud your judgement. Aside from that it could cause the relationship with your designer to break down if they see you have been showing their unfinished work to the world. You are their client, they want your authentic viewpoint only. Nothing is set in stone – design is a journey so work together with your designer to achieve your desired result. And of course, if you like what you've been presented with... please tell us! We live for those moments so don't be afraid to go overboard... honestly, we creatives love to hear we've got it right. Putting our creativity out there to be judged is both exciting and scary in equal measure. Feedback is what motivates us to evolve, improve and grow.

5. What output do you require? If your design work is to be printed, for example a leaflet or voucher, are they handling the print production for you? If yes, have you decided on the quantity you require and communicated that for quoting purposes? If you are handling the print, have you informed your designer of the file format and spec you will need? If you have commissioned digital graphics, do you know how you want these to be supplied? A good designer will guide you, so please do ask questions if you’re not sure.

Trusting your Graphic Designer

The brief is your opportunity to give your designer a clear picture of what’s important to you.

Graphic designers are highly skilled, with extensive experience and knowledge across many areas, so trust and openness is a must both ways. The good ones didn’t sign up to Canva last week and then start calling themselves Graphic Designers, so always do your due diligence and choose your designer wisely.

Designers often have layered niches… mine is pet business branding and design, but my design style adds another layer to that. So if you approach a designer to work with you, you may find that they say no and direct you elsewhere. This is usually because they are highly experienced and will know quite early on in your communication with them that they are not quite the right fit for your business and requirements. It’s nothing personal, they only want the best for you so listen to their reasons and if they have recommended someone else, take a look at their offering and see if they might work better for you.

In conclusion, trust in the process. Graphic designers have honed their skills and processes over many years and many clients, so be open to the journey and you will achieve effective designs you can both be proud of.

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