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Don’t brief your print designer, have a conversation instead

We wanted to write a blog about the best way to brief a designer about your latest piece of printed marketing collateral. But when we started throwing ideas around we realised that the best advice we can give is not to brief a designer with finalised content and a concept that all and sundry have signed off on, but instead involve them as early as possible.


The reason for that is you don’t know what you don’t know. Designers who are specialists in print, like our design studio team here at PMG, are experts in what can be achieved and might give you some ideas you’d not thought of, which will likely result in a better final product.


We’re not saying you should let the designers do whatever they want! Instead we’re advocating for making them part of the creative team from the start. Even if you do that, there are some other things that will help you get the most from your designer, so here is our advice.


Have a conversation


Involve your designer as soon as possible. You could send some ideas over email (some things you love and things that are definitely not what you’re looking for will be really useful.) Give them a little while to reflect on what you’ve sent, then set up a call rather than writing down your brief.


Designers will want to explore the detail of your project and your answers to questions might throw up routes to go down which you wouldn’t have thought of. A good designer will want to start with who the print will be for and what response you’re hoping for. This will help them visualise the audience and reaction they need to play a part in eliciting.


A written brief will be useful to refer to once you’ve had that chat, but if you just to say you want a full colour, 16-page square printed brochure you’ll constrain the designer and may not get the best from them. Help your designer to help you by giving them some of your time. You won’t regret it.


Provide brand guidelines


You don’t need a 40-page set of brand guidelines to create consistency in your marketing materials. But you do need to give your designer a clue about things like colour palette, fonts and the essence of your brand. Are you fun and quirky? Or do you need to be trustworthy and serious? Each scenario will throw up different design options and constraints.


Think about what the end-product will be printed on


It’s not enough to know you want something printed, you need an idea about what you want it printed on to. If it’s a leaflet for mass distribution in town centres you can get away with a light paper stock (which should also be cheaper). If you’re creating a brochure for CEOs to read you’ll want heavier paper to signify quality and probably a matte rather than silk or gloss finish. If you’re planning a mailing will the end-product you’re thinking of actually go through people’s letterboxes and what are the postage cost implications?


You don’t need to have samples of different paper weights sitting around on your desk, your designer will advise, but you do need to have a sense in your mind of what you’re hoping the final product will look and feel like.


Your print designer can help you visualise the end-product and can also advise on finishing effects that will elevate the design. That could be foil on the CEO brochure, or a spot UV effect on the mailing to catch people’s eye. You don’t need to know all of your options, that’s what a decent print designer is for!


Get advice on design for print from the experts


Our design studio design for print all day, every day, so are perfectly placed to help you with your next print project. Give the friendly bunch a call on 01924 284330 for advice about your next marketing collateral project.



Image credit Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

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