Design is an objective process.
As designers, we need to be able, through process, to craft our product and be able to rationalise our approach objectively rather than rely on subjectivity or opinion. So how do we test our approach? How do we know we are on the right track?
Through the Design Brief.
The design brief is one of the foundations upon which a successful design project is built. It is a fundamental communication channel for the designer and a clear consolidation of the project’s objectives and desired outcomes. We use the design brief to understand your goals, the scope of the project and issues that may arise. We also use it as a tool to clarify the need and direction of your project and how its success will be measured.
Most importantly, a design brief ensures that all parties understand the objectives, audience, and expected results of the project from the outset. In many ways the brief is the blueprint that leads us to our final result.
Process is the key to producing effective design work efficiently. There are 7 fundamental steps;
- First Meeting
- Design Brief
The brief you give your designers is the most significant element of the design process.
You've heard the expression crap in, crap out, well it applies to design as well. However, for many, writing a brief is often the most challenging part of the project.
Here's a commonsense guide that will help;
- Download the briefing document template. This will be a good start. It provides the blueprint for the information we need.
- Describe the problem not the solution. What you want and what you need may be different. So its better to tell us your goals and what you would like to achieve (vision) rather trying to instruct us on what it physically looks like. Remember; if you tell us exactly how it should look, be prepared for it to look just as you asked.
- A picture paints a thousand words. If you have examples of
what you like and dislike, show us. It will help us understand your vision.
- Your Target Market is not everyone. Unless you're announcing to the world that its about to end your Target Market will be more defined. Think about who your marketing efforts are aimed at (not just who could use your product or service)
- In most cases we are looking for more than a YES or NO answer.
The best communication starts with a conversation.
It's an ideal way to find out whether the fit will be right. This First Meeting is a 'get to know' rather than a 'need to know' meeting. It usually lasts about an hour and is free of charge. During this time;
- You talk about your business
- You discuss the areas you feel design can help
- We develop an understanding about the people, culture and work practices of your business
- You develop an understanding about the people, culture and work practices of Inkredible Art
- You hear how we work
- You hear about our process and fee structure
If you haven't done so already download our briefing template.
The main elements of a brief include:
- Background — Provide details of why the job is being done.
- Target Audience — Who are they? (age group, describe them ie Professional Single Female, 25-35) What is their perception about you and their attitudes in general.
- Objective — What is the main purpose. How will it's success be measured or understood?
- Message — What is the single most important fact or promise we must communicate about this product. Why will your audience believe what we say?
- Mandatory Elements – eg: logo, address, phone number Competition license number, disclaimers etc.
- Deliverables — What items are we producing? Brochure, Direct Mailer, Press ad, Packaging?
- Timeline — Try to supply a quantifiable deadline. ASAP may not be soon enough.
- Budget — How much can be spent to get this developed?
- Approvals — Who needs to give the okay ?
Defining your budget and understanding your financial expectations is at the forefront of our minds and key to our process.
A clearly defined budget outlining SCOPE OF WORK is presented for your approval prior to the commencement of any work or any expenditure on your behalf.
How are jobs costed
How to save money on graphic design
The design path has the following key steps:
This is usually conducted by the Graphic Designer and a Creative Director or Account Manager. They independently review the brief and then discuss it in an open forum.
Core elements and strategies are discussed, and mandatory considerations such as existing corporate style guides or industry regulations noted.
Fundamentally this is where a designer immerses themselves in the brief. They research the competition, industry trends and market leaders. This, with insights from the brief, enables the designer to form an understanding of the projects context, market and environment.
Development is where the strategy is transformed into the creative.
Only after researching and understanding does the designer start to put ‘pen to paper’. And putting ‘pen to paper’ is literally what we do. Before any work starts on the computer, we explore alternative designs and design elements by sketching them on paper. This allows the designer to think of the form rather than the technical construction of the design, (this will come later).
It’s a process of elimination which can be likened to a funnel. A variety of draft concepts are evaluated and critiqued through a series of stages until a final design emerges.
It’s a seemingly simple process. However the end result is not determined by process alone. Where process ends, experience and creative ability begin.
Process, Experience and Creative Ability; all three are required to deliver the best result.
It’s a concept we all understand... Would you prefer a doctor who lectures in medicine perform your surgery or alternatively a doctor who has had many years of experience and is well regarded by his patients and peers perform it?
Creation as the name suggests is where the final elements of the design come together as a whole. For example if the project was a new identity; creation would be the application of the new logo or wordmark to a variety of branded items. (Stationery, web, signage, advertising and so on). These items are also evaluated and refined, until there is a final design, or suite of material for presentation.
The content of a presentation can vary depending on the size and scope of the project. However usually;
In presentation, you become a witness to the design process. Often referring back to the brief, we reveal the strategic and visual history of the design and the reasons for it’s outcomes.
We invite comment and evaluate the designs against your brief.
After you have had time to review the design and give us your feedback, we make any amendments necessary and if required present you with the updated designs.
Tip: The ‘Design’ section of the process focusses on the overall style of the work. It is best not to pay too much attention to the specific content when you are evaluating a design. Area’s such as copywriting, headlines, spelling can be refined in the “Artwork” phase after the design is approved. Refining content during the design phases tends to prolong design process and increase costs.
- Designs, logos and word marks are taken to finished art, backed up and archived.
- High resolution images are purchased, backed up and archived
Once the design is approved, final artwork files are prepared. This includes:
- Finalising the artworks content eg: Copywriting, phone numbers, disclaimers, images and so on.
- Completing any authors corrections.
- Confirming material specifications.
- Preparing a low resolution proof for your approval (usually a PDF via email).
- PRE-PRESS Upon approval converting all low resolution images and files to High resolution and preparing files for final output.
- Upon dispatch, files are consolidated, backed up and archived.
- Documentation and specifications prepared and dispatched with Artwork and sent to printer.
- Printers proof is checked by the studio and then forwarded to the client for final approval.
- In some cases a ‘press check’ is conducted while printed job is on the press to ensure print quality.
- Final product delivered to studio for final check.
- Finished product dispatched to client.
One of the great things about helping businesses with their brands is that a good brand is an inspiration in itself. Once you have started the process you and your staff will look for new and exciting ways to use it.
We also want to be an ongoing part of it.
Our service is ongoing. If you need to bounce an idea off us or need some advice about how the brand has been or can be applied, we are here to help.