How to brief a designer – to get the best results for your brand

Paul Dodd from AllGood Design shares his top tips on how to write a great design brief – don’t forget the better the brief the better the outcome.  Designers can’t read your mind.  It is worth putting the effort in at the beginning to ensure you get the best design for your food or drink brand as possible.

The design brief should be the guiding light for everything that follows it. All hail the brief.

Writing an amazing brief is the key to a successful design project. It should be held aloft by the designer and client alike, providing clarity and direction, and removing ambiguity and assumptions.

Design is a such a subjective experience, and your designer will have different likes and dislikes to you, aswell as knowing much more about the industry and current design techniques than you’re aware of. In order to synthesise this into a project that is right for the market, and right for you, it’s essential to do some groundwork before approaching a designer.

Follow these guidelines and your designer will love you forever, your relationship will follow a smoother path and you’ll remove ambiguity and assumptions. And you know what they say about assuming anything…

The basic structure
The Why
The What
The Who
The How
The When

Start with an extensive background on you, your company, your idea and anything else that provides a basis for the project.
This is your mantra “Assume my designer knows nothing about my subject”.
If you can condense everything into one document, it stops them trawling Google and Wikipedia and basing all their future ideas on misinformed research.
We want to know how long you’ve been in business, where you’re based, number of staff, your marketplace, turnover, previous experience and anything else you think will provide a fuller picture of the project.

Be specific in the objectives of the project, and you’ll create clarity in the designers quote, such as:
– Full rebrand of company and 3 x sub brands for products
– Design and print of 12 page brochure, 1000 printed. To supply stock photography for brochure.
– Design and development of our new website, to include 5 main sections, content written and supplied by us. (include sitemaps etc).

The Why
This is hugely important, and can often provide a good designer with the one big idea that will run through everything.
Why you’re doing something is massively important, and lets people know your values, your messages and what you’re really passionate about.
See this TED talk by Simon Sinek on the ‘Start with the Why’:
Often your why is what sets you apart from everyone else.

The What
Here is where you get into the sexy stuff. What you want the future to look like and what your new idea will become.
– Where do you see the business in 3 years?
– How many sales do you want to generate?
– What new markets will you be going into?
– What exact products will you be launching?
– What kind of services will you be providing?

This is about the full scope of the project and the bigger vision for the business. The designer will want to know everything they can, so they can make informed decisions about style, content and messages. So tell them if you’re launching 3 products now, but introducing another 2 in a year. If your main focus right now is consumer, but you want to widen the focus to business-to-business. All this information affects design choices.

The Who
This is where you explain and build a picture of your desired target audience.
As well as all the standard stuff such as age, sex, income level etc, spice it up by including what they wear, where they eat, what films they watch (whatever is relevant to your business).
Then include stuff such as what search terms they use to look for your service, what other products/services they use instead of yours and who else sells to these people.
It’s also about who your competition is.
Describe your main competitors, list their websites, what you like/don’t like about their brand, and which messages are relevant to this project.

The How
This is where you explore how it will look, sound and feel.
Explain your stylistic preferences, the vibe you want your design to have, keywords such as ‘Floral’ or ‘Minimal’. It’s vital that your subjective tastes are fully explored, as it’ll vastly reduce any amends time.
Let your designer know things you definitely DON’T like, it could stop them basing their entire design style around something you’ll instantly dislike.
Colours are hugely important. Are there any colours you love or hate?
Provide some moodboards, or use a Pinterest board.
Anything you can to help the designer make the right decision on style.

The When
Largely timescales will be denoted by the designer, but if you have some specific deadlines to meet, for instance if you are attending an exhibition, then notify the designer.
If timescales are tight, at least the designer will be able to let you know what can be done in that timeframe.

 Good working practices
When (or before) the project commences, it’s a good idea to gather together all assets in one place. Any existing logo files, brand manuals, stock photography, bespoke photography, previous artwork, fonts etc, will need to be put inside one folder and either shared online or sent on DVD.

Setting up a shared Dropbox folder is a good way of sharing assets and ongoing project files.