A. How to brief a designer

Briefing designers is hard. Working with them can be too. They are a special bunch, often considering themselves artists. And artists have very strong opinions of their own work.

Some tips for working with designers

Designers want to make pretty things. But you want what’s in the briefing. So box them in with clear instructions, and ask for regular updates. Prevent subsidizing some creative experiment. Never skip the intermediate checks by letting them dump a final design, for you will risk ruining the relationship and your budget.

As creative right-brain people, designers are often weak at negotiating, planning and conscientious delivery. You will have to manage them strictly. Let them know deadlines are important to you and hold them accountable if they bungle one.

Ask for multiple rough sketches to determine a direction together. When critiquing their work, mix in the occasional compliment. They often feel they wove threads of their soul into the fabric of the design, so never tear it down without ceremony.

Designers consider you illiterate in design and will claim to know best. Be patient with this. Acknowledge their input but stick to your branding strategy and identity.

What elements to include in the briefing

When briefing a designer, include a brand book that shows her what style to adhere to, like colors and logos to use. It will serve as an anchor.

If you don’t have a brand book, make sure to add the following:

  • The name of your business and organization
  • Brand promise (E.G. my project is efficient, affordable and reliable.)
  • Color codes
  • Your industry (Beauty, Medical, Media)
  • Specify the deliverable (file format, size, etc.)
  • Define payment terms and milestones.

Improve your briefing by adding the following as well:

  • Target audience demographics: Age, Sex, Location, Income, Occupation, Education, Industry
  • Target audience psychographics: Interests, Lifestyle, Behaviour, Opinions, Values
  • Add some images of other designs that you like to serve as a visual reference.
  • Add your own ideas for this design (preferably in words AND rough sketch).