Friday, March 2, 2007

How To Brief A Graphic Designer So Your Project Stays On Budget

Most people understand that if they decide to change the location of a bathroom halfway through construction of a house it is going to cost them extra money. That’s why they spend so long making sure the plans are right before they begin.

But it is amazing the number of people who don’t apply this same logic to business. Say, for instance, when they use a graphic design firm. A lot of people begin working with a designer with only a vague brief, then make important decisions on the fly, or even change their minds halfway through.

When you consider that graphic design fees are usually based on the number of hours and concepts required, it's hardly surprising that this slapdash approach can end up blowing your budget by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

A stitch in time saves nine:

The following checklist can be used as a guide in preparing a brief for a graphic design project. By briefing the designer correctly you will have clarified your own thinking about the project and will in return receive an accurate estimate of costs. All suggested topics in the briefing checklist are considered relevant, although not all will be necessary depending on the type of project.

Graphic Design briefing Checklist


1. Who is the target audience?

2. What do you want people to do / feel when they receive the item? (This gives the graphic designer an idea of the overall tone you want.)

3. What key message do you want this project to deliver? e.g. “my company is friendly and funky”

4. Do you have printed samples that give the kind of impression you are after? (This is not for the graphic designer to copy, but a way to clarify language i.e. when you say the word “funky” it will conjure up a different image in your mind than it will in the designer’s mind.)

5. How does this product / service benefit the customer? (what’s in it for me?)

6. Have you done similar things in the past? Have they succeeded or failed? Why do you think that is?

7. How will you measure the success of the project?


1. What exactly are you getting designed right now? e.g. number of pages, format etc.

2. What information needs to be included in this project? (words/ logos/ images/ photographs etc) Are these things ready to go?

3. Is this item to fit within an existing style? If so, do you have samples of the existing style?

4. Do you need a new style created? If so, what other applications will the style apply to?

5. Are there any other branding requirements the graphic designer needs to consider? (colour schemes, logo usage, typefaces, paper stock etc.)

6. What are the deadlines on this project?

7. Do you need the graphic designer to co-ordinate production of artwork (illustration/ photography) or copywriting. If yes, give details.

8. How will your target market receive the designed item? e.g. in the post, from a brochure stand, via the web

9. What are the print requirements? (Number of copies, colours, size)

10. Do you need the graphic designer to co-ordinate pre-press and printing?

11. How much project management (meetings / updates etc) will the job involve?

12. Who will the designer be dealing with on a day-to-day basis?

13. How many people will be involved in final approval of the project? (These people need to be involved from the very beginning if possible so they don’t put their two bob’s worth in when the project is nearly completed.)

14. What is the budget?

If you brief your designer correctly from the beginning you will get the results you want with less hassle and at a lower cost to you.

Ruth Clare is a professional copywriter with a passion for putting the customer first. She runs a graphic design business, Mono Design, with her husband in Melbourne, Australia

By Ruth Clare

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