…and the answer is = ALWAYS WRITE A BRIEF! 

I met with one of my design agency associates last week and we were talking about working with small business clients and how they like to work to brief in and manage projects. It prompted me to share this article which I wrote a couple of years ago but it’s still as relevant today…

A brief ensures that you think clearly about what you want to achieve at the outset and any key things that should be considered by the supplier are mentioned when you commission the job. Writing it down ensures there isn’t
any confusion between both parties.

Ideally, you should also meet up face-to-face with your designer/printer or organise a telephone call to discuss the brief once they have had time to read through it, just to make sure everything is clear before any work is started and costs are incurred. Avoid verbal only briefs at all costs to protect both parties!

This briefing meeting is also an opportunity to review examples of work the designer or printer has done for other clients.

Remember – The better the brief, the better the results.

Here’s what to include in your brief…

There are a lot of things you can include in a brief but I would recommend:

 – Background:
Set the scene. The designer or printer won’t know anything about your business (or very little). This will ensure they understand the context of your business, what your current business issue is, or what you need your website to achieve or your printed materials to communicate.

 This is also critical if you are briefing them to design your new logo and branding for your business.

 – Objectives:
What do you want to achieve? and why?  If the designer or printer is also handling copy writing for you, you’ll need to include more detail and make sure you define what you want the customer to think and what action you want them to take as a result of reading your printed materials or visiting your website.

– USP (Unique Selling Point/Proposition):
What makes your business different? What do you want your customers to think about your business?

 – Branding & Business Values:
If you have defined what you want your business to stand for (your Brand Values), make sure you communicate this to your designer or printer, so they can look to incorporate this into the visual style of any design work they do for you and even the materials that are used.

– Requirements:
What finished item do you want? Business cards, an A5 flyer, a 5 page information only website, online shop,etc.

– Quantities:
The minimum quantity you need (remember – it is always cheaper to print more than go back later and re-print).

– Finish:
If you have specific views on paper stock (weight) and finish – gloss Vs matt, etc – make sure you specify these in the brief. If you’re not sure what you would like, ask to see some samples to help you decide.

 – Mandatory Inclusions:
Your logo and specific things that must appear – don’t forget your website address! Also specify any colours that must be used for your logo (often referred to as a Pantone or spot colour).

 – Your deadline:
Any fixed date you need materials by. Always best to discuss this up front if this is critical to your business. This will avoid any frustrations or misunderstandings, especially if the printer cannot meet these timings.

 – Your budget:
Or agree a fixed cost at the start. Ask for a discount if printing larger quantities or multiple jobs.

It’s always better to get a personal recommendation from contacts or friends when selecting a designer or printer.

If you need help with logo design, website design or printing, I’d be happy to recommend someone to you. Or if you are strapped for time and find it all a bit of a nightmare to manage – I can manage this whole job for you acting as your virtual marketing manager. Just get in touch.

PS – see my handy Jargon Buster Design & Print Guide in my ‘Some Really Useful Stuff’ section.