How to create an air tight graphic design brief

many small light bulbs equal big oneHow do I get the design I want?
By creating a good brief for the designer.
Whether you’re working with a designer on a promotional project, flyer, logo or leaflet. Getting the design you want is all down to the brief you give to your designer.

Business profile
A designer won’t necessarily know your business, write a business profile you can send to the designer. Include a brief history, summary and a list of your products/services you offer.

Targeted audience
Know your audience, who you are targeting and the demographic, location, age and gender.

Market position
Know your position in the market, who your main competitors are and what makes your company different from the competition.

Project objectives
What is it you would like designed? Flyer, poster, website mailer?

What would you like to achieve with the marketing?

Provide all specifications for the designer, size, orientation (portrait or landscape).

Main objective
Why you require graphic design, is it a new product?

Are you trying to promote a new service?

Who is providing content, are you supplying the copy and leaving the designer to select a stock photo from a library.

Your brand and company history
Give the designer a history if possible of your previous marketing, tell them what has worked and what hasn’t.

Your taste
Let the designer know your tastes, it is important they know the style you like and don’t so they don’t waste time on visual mock-ups only to find out that the style doesn’t suit.

Suggest a deadline
Deadlines are important, too tight and they restrict the designers creativity, discuss what deadline is feasible and what is too tight.

Discuss the budget, gather quotes from your chosen shortlist of designers.
Remember to look at their previous work, does their own style fit the bill.

Graphic design tips for marketing literature

With the revolution of computers and the software to create graphics many designers think that designers think that good graphic design has declined since the 1990’s. Businesses have been able to buy the professional software to create professional graphics sometimes creating their own marketing literature or hiring a poorly trained designer. To be a good designer is much more than using the filters and shortcuts in the creative software, it’s more about natural talent with keen eye for details. Good design has declined but nether less there are still high quality designers in the field producing some beautiful works of art. Below are some really useful tips on creating professional looking marketing material for your business.

Keep focuses – don’t move the goal posts

Focus on why you are creating your marketing literature, which the intended audience is and what you are trying to achieve. It is important to keep sight on your goals and the actions you want from the piece.

Design takes time and forward planning it won’t happen overnight, but some hard work and focus should create a professional piece. Draw out a plan, what is the main focus of the piece, consider say your home or a room, is it planned out so certain things go in certain places.

Design is exactly this, plan the piece every piece of content has its place. Once you start laying out the piece, adding the copy and imagery it doesn’t take long before the piece starts to take shape, use relevant photos if you have lots of photos use them quite small, single photos look better large grabbing the audience’s attention when they enter the page.  Research has shown most readers focus on images when entering a page.

There are some great royalty free stock libraries online to find good professional photography without breaking the bank or budget.

Rules of design

Place the most important content on the top of your piece, least important down toward bottom of page in a descending order of importance. Keep headings clear and precise, sub headers smaller in type size. Stick to the rules of professional designs, only 3 fonts per page.

If you apply these rules your marketing literature will not only look professional but do the job it is intended for.

Litho vs Digital print – war is on

Litho print or lithographic printing has always been a dark field to me, although I work as a graphic designer professionally I can honestly say that I only know the real basics of this field.

That is until I worked in-house at a litho printers, it truly opened my eyes to the problems these guys have with files from ignorant graphic designers. Some files even landed on them without bleeds, trim, and RGB photos to name a few mistakes.

I don’t believe I am a master in the field of litho print but I have learnt over the years by stepping into their toes and how this has helped me create artwork from a different perspective. So do all designers need to learn printing, no certainly not but they need to get to grips with the basics to make their projects run smoother and avoid errors.

Litho print – how it works

Litho print uses a plate to transfer the image to the printed media, the plates are broken down into four colour separations known as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). Litho print is extremely good for medium and long runs, digital printing is much more suitable to shorter runs. Litho comes with a price on setup but once you get to large runs the cost comes down dramatically. If you have a colour critical job get a proof from the printers, these are usually run off through a postscript rip. The colours on a printers proof will be very close to the final job, don’t rely on pdf’s on screen as colours can change dramatically.

Digital print

Digital print differs from litho print in the way it recreates an image, digital printing creates an image by using pixels to build it up. Litho print recreates the image from the original. Digital printed images are made by tiny drops of ink on the media.

Digital printing wins the war with short runs, less expensive than litho with absolutely no set up costs involved. What you see on the screen is what will be printed, digital print doesn’t require the extra costs of proofs.  Litho costs are cheaper when printing run volumes are over 1000.

Top tips to become a better graphic designer

The digital world changes extremely quickly, working as a graphic designer it’s very easy to get caught up in learning new techniques when the main focus is pushing your creativity limits. College is easy when it comes to getting inspiration or new ideas; you are not under the pressure of a working day and a boss breathing down your collar to finish a project.

Inspiration is tough to find if you feel pressurised into finishing a project piece.

Below are some good tips to help with inspiration, how to find it and prevent that stagnant design feeling and become a much improved designer.

Buy design books
Once a month search for a good design, typography or art book, a good book collection creates an on shelf inspiration library.

Subscribe to a design monthly magazine
Computer arts, digital art or design week are a few to look at, these monthly magazines are a great source of new inspiration for any designer beginner or advanced. They are not cheap, worth the bucks for keeping up to date with latest news, trends and help.

Read graphic design blogs

Excellent source for inspiration, subscribe and get the latest news feeds so you keep up to date with the blog. Join in and comment about the posts, you could meet new design people to get further inspiration from or learn more from the larger community.

Start a blog

Building up your own blog will not only help others, it will educate yourself whilst writing the articles. Create tutorials for graphic design, logo or typography related posts about the latest design trends and typefaces. Gather a following; you will be surprised just how many people would visit a design related blog for tips and advice. Post your work for comments and feedback this will help you become more analytical of my own work.


Create self promotional pieces or fake projects

If you get some free time let your imagination run wild, create a logo, website and stationery for a false business. Keeps your mind fresh and allows you to design without client restraints, sometimes clients change your design so far that it becomes their work and not your own.

Re-design old work

Start by choosing an old project and produce a totally new design, this keeps you learning and pushing the creativity boundaries. You will see how much better you can make the design being critical of changes you have made to the old design and why it has improved.

Keep a sketch book to hand

Hugely under estimated by modern graphic designers the sketch book lets you design freely without the software constraints. A sketch book enables you to design quickly and rough before moving to the final artwork using your chosen software.