Briefing

How do I write a 'design brief' for my project or job?


In the first instance we should meet face to face meeting or schedule a Skype or phone call to discuss your project in greater detail - allocate approx. one hour for this 'kickoff' meeting. Ideally you should prepare a brief in either Word document or an email to share prior to this meeting, to ensure we are all working of the same page/screen! To start the conversation visit my contact page here.




What information do I need to provide?


Provide details about the target market, any market research completed, desired outcomes, your competition, and provide crucial technical information. You could also provide examples of designs and colours you like or dislike. The budget, deadlines and rounds of amends included should also be agreed.




Can you provide graphic design references?


Yes of course, I am happy to provide testimonials to my work, as someone wise once said - you are only as good as your last job! You can read client testimonials on my website here. You can view my agency recommendations from clients on The Drum website here. You can also read my LinkedIn recommendations and endorsements here.




What is the best way to brief an infographic job?


During the last few years I have perfected the art and science of infographic design. I know that a well-executed infographic design isn't just about pretty pictures - it's about avoiding information overload, and presenting the right information to the right people at the right time. That's why the structure and architecture of an infographic is just as important as the content itself. In terms of briefing please read the above answers to 'How do I write a design brief for my project or job?' and 'What information do I need to provide?' Specifically, infographics are an ideal mechanism for promoting your company's key offerings, explaining a complex process or comparing statistics from your latest research. Once designed, amended and approved, you have several options for sharing your beautifully crafted infographic - perhaps virally online through social media, or via a more traditional piece of print. Click here to view examples in my infographics portfolio.




What is the best way to brief a logo, identity or branding job?


These are my absolute favourite design jobs! Whether you are thinking of a gentle evolution or a radical revolution, a branding job can sometimes feel overwhelming. I will work closely with you during all stages of the process, from the initial concepts to the unveiling of high resolution, print-ready artwork. Even when the implementation of your new brand has been completed, I will still continue to offer support and advice as/when required. In terms of briefing please read the answers to 'How do I write a design brief for my project or job?' and 'What information do I need to provide?' Specifically, with branding jobs I need to get under the skin of your business, to begin to understand the mindset of your clients, customers or audiences to ensure you get the branding that perfectly encapsulates your company's personality. Click here for more information on my branding services.




Can you explain the stages of the design process?


According to Google, the 'Design Process' is an approach for breaking down a large project into manageable chunks. Every decent design agency or freelancer should follow a organised (and consistent) set of stages to bring a design brief into reality for their clients. Following my process is as easy as making a brew and you can download the PDF document by clicking here. Switch the kettle on and write your 1. Design Brief, then flow through the stages of 2. Concepts, 3. Development, 4. Artworking, 5. Delivery and finally the project 6. Feedback. As that famous meerkat would say, simples!




What are brand guidelines, brand manuals, brand toolkits or style guides?


Consistency builds trust and brand loyalty - developing a consistent brand starts with creating a brand guide. This important document should be the foundation that underpins your new or evolved logo and branding. They should be produced whilst the paint is still drying on your new logo, whilst the reasoning is still fresh in your mind. They can be anything between 10 and 100 pages/screens in length depending upon the size and complexity of your business. Their content tends to expand over time, as your brand evolves and further print and digital collateral are produced - these deserve to be showcased as examples of best practice. Typical content might include: mission statement, values and culture, customer research, master and supporting logos, logo hierarchy, colour palettes, tone of voice, typographic styles, photo/image usage, grid layouts, a gallery of examples, website development, any technical information and your contact details.




What areas of the UK do you cover?


I currently work with several clients based in Oxford, Southend and London, further afield I regularly work with organisations based in France, Holland, Germany and New York. Having relocated to Royal Wharf in East London, I am now looking for new clients based locally in Canary Wharf, Canning Town, Custom House, Greenwich and Silvertown. I am happy to travel to your premises especially if you're providing the tea and biscuits!





Technical

Difference between print (paper) and digital (screen) resolution?


This question crops up time and time again and refers in broad terms to the density of pixels or dots - the more pixels or dots in a photo, the better quality the results. Printed materials use dots of inks, referred to as 'dots per inch' (acronym DPI), whereas digital screens use 'pixels per inch' (acronym PPI). Printed materials should always be produced using high-resolution files (300dpi ideally) whereas digital files for websites, web banners, mobile publishing etc use low-resolution files (72dpi ideally) - the highest resolution that monitors can display. When producing any design work it is important to start with a high-quality image. Buy and download the best quality photos your budget allows (bigger is better) and produce any logos using 'Vector' based software such as Adobe illustrator. Vector files don't lose quality and are explained on another FAQ. Finally, your graphic designer can reduce image sizes for print (300dpi) to use online (72dpi) without losing any quality but they cannot add more dots or pixels to increase quality.




Can you recommend a printer for my design job?


Yes I can and I would highly recommend these trusted suppliers... Traditional print solutions (bespoke more complex jobs - quality and guidance): Fine Print Services (Oxfordshire based) speak to Simon or Jon or Dan. West Three Colour (West London based) speak to brothers Paul or David Gower. Artisan Print Solutions (Oxfordshire based) speak to Sara or Tracey. Online only printers (standard or template print jobs - speed and flexibility): Printed.com (UK based) great for flyers, postcards, posters and stationery sets. Moo Printers (UK based) great for business cards, stickers, stationery sets and accessories.




Can you recommend a copywriter for my design job?


I often work closely with copywriters especially during the concept stage of design projects. I can highly recommend the following talented bunch of writers and editors... Richard Hughes His services include website copywriting, content marketing, branding, emails, DM, social media, pack copy and more. Katy Young - Her LinkedIn profile says "Love reaching people with words. Love branding. Love conceptualising. Love being a prose perfectionist and an alliteration aficionado. Love creating 'the big idea' and driving it home with killer campaigns". Alison Hill - Provides editorial, marketing, content creation, communications and events management services across the arts, heritage and business sectors. Helen B - A conceptual copywriter, storyteller and ghostwriter with over 15 years' experience. She has a Master's Degree in Creative Media (Writing) and a DipArts in Professional Writing and Editing.




What are and how do I request 'print ready artwork' files?


Once the final visual (or draft) of your design job has been approved and signed off by all stakeholders, I will then produce and supply the 'artwork' files if its a print job and/or 'web friendly' assets if it's a digital job. The timings involved depend upon the complexity of the job. For example, saving a print ready PDF file for a magazine advert will only take a few minutes, whereas supplying a build ready Photoshop layered file (PSD) for website developers to work with will take several hours. Whether its a print or digital job several checks need to be preformed before any artwork files leave the design studio. With most print jobs I advise asking your printer to supply a 'hard proof' (physical sample) - this is vitally important because it helps prevent unforeseen problems with text, images, colours, spacing and other design elements. A 'soft proof' is simply a PDF file to confirm safe delivery of your artwork files.




What design software experience do you have?


I have been working as a professional graphic designer since 1995 and I have over 20 years experience using the following Creative Suite software: Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat. More recently I have been using Adobe Spark (online story-telling platform), Adobe Animate (vector based animation software), Wix (website design and build software), and Sketch (user interface and prototypes).




What's the difference between a Vector and Raster image file?


Another confusing subject to explore. There are two types of digital graphics files vector
and raster, sometimes referred to as bitmap because they use 'bit maps' to store information.
Vector images, which are constructed in software packages like Adobe illustrator use lines and curves known as paths and shapes (rather than pixels) plus mathematical theory. When saving files you can use the following extensions: .SVG, .EPS, .PDF, and .AI. The advantages are smaller file sizes becuase they contain less data and most importantly Vectors can be scaled up (or down) to any size required without loss of quality. Perfect for creating logos, infographics and illustrations. Raster images are constructed in photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and use pixels to display in print or on screen. When saving files you can use the following extensions: TIF, GIF, PNG and JPG. Resolution is a key concern - see earlier question about this topic.




What is the difference between print (CMYK) and digital (RGB) colour modes?


Good question which can easily lead to a complex technical answer involving additive and subtractive colour theories! Working with cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) 'inks' is like painting on paper. You start with a white sheet, and any colours you add will make the paper darker until you produce black. Working with red, green and blue (RGB) 'lights' the more colour you add the lighter the screen will become until you produce white. Black can be acheived in print simply by using 100% black ink (K standing for key plate) but to achieve a 'rich' deeper black use these values: C=40%, M=40%, Y=40%,K=100% which will result in a total 220% ink coverage. Conversely, black on screen can be achieved by inputting R=0%, G=0%, B=0% or by using hex code #000000. White involves add no ink onto the paper or in digital spaces by inputting the values R=255, G=255, B=255 by using hex code#ffffff. This diagram might help shed some light!




Can you explain the confusing terms of 'image size' versus 'file size'?


Image size refers to the dimensions of an image in physical size and dpi, while file size is how much space the image takes up when saved or moved onto your hard drive. This is measured in kilobytes (Kb) or megabytes (Mb). Image files like photographs and logos with higher resolution (more dpi) will also have a bigger file size because they contain more data. Reducing your photos before uploading them to the web (to 72dpi) will save you server space and they’ll load faster, which is especially noticable on mobile devices. Website building solutions such as Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy automatically reduce and compress your images - one less thing to worry about!





Payment

What are the typical costs and time frames for a new logo?


How long is a piece of string! Seriously though, I would need to read and digest your design brief (see answer to writing a brief) and have an understanding of your full branding 'wish list' before providing an accurate estimate. You should expect to spend between £500 and £2,000 for a logo job depending upon the complexity. Your logo is often the first interaction ('touchpoint' in marketing speak) that potential customers have with your business, organisation, charity or other venture. A professional logo will be instantly recognisable, will inspire confidence in your product or service and long term it will build trust - a logo can become one of the most valuable assets in your business. Once your logo is approved I would also supply the following digital assets to ensure flexibility of use across all your business collateral: logo in full colour, logo in black and white, a reversed out logo (white version), horizontal and stacked lockups, different file formats for use in print, website and on social media platforms (JPG, PNG, GIF, AI etc), editable logo 'master' file, plus any branded stationery requirements (costs agreed at brief stage). Time frames and deadlines are obviously important considerations but you shouldn't rush the creative process for the sake of a single meeting or event. Bland is the enemy!




How many rounds of amends are included within the budget?


This is often a grey area in graphic design and a misunderstanding of the number of revisions can cause the agreed budget to increase. Best to avoid this potentially awkward situation by agreeing how many rounds of amends are included for each job. Transparency is key here. Common sense dictates that different size jobs usually require different approaches. It's usually the case that a simple business card design would only require 2-3 rounds of client amends. By contrast annual reports, exhibition stands or website homepages will require a greater attention to detail, involvement of more stakeholders, longer timeframes and more working parts - in my experience we are then talking between 5-10 rounds of amends. It is worth briefly mentioning branding projects at this point. Branding is personal and clients generally speaking like a greater level of involvement, which can result in slower progress and a frustrating number of amends. To avoid 'design burnout' we should agree to limit revisions and communicate clearly throughout any project.




What are your payment terms and do you require a deposit?


Once I have scoped out your design requirements, I will send you an estimate via my Freshbooks cloud-based accounting system. Once an estimate is accepted new clients are required to pay a 25% deposit on all jobs before any design work is undertaken. All clients are bound by standard 30 day payment terms, and late payments will incur fees of 10% of the value of the invoice after it becomes 14 days overdue. Payment reminders are automatically generated and emailed to clients a day before payment is due. Any additional design work above that agreed during the briefing process will require a new estimate being supplied and approved by the client. Additional rounds of amends will also be charged at my hourly rate. There are no hidden extra costs and all estimates are provided with a full breakdown of the hours and services involved. Any questions please do ask!




Who 'owns' the design work once it's finished and paid for?


Most of the time its unnecessary for the client to get 'ownership' of design files. You’re unlikely to have access to Adobe software to edit them and buying a copy can be expensive. Then there's the steep learning curve involved in using the design software to edit your file and editing or saving files incorrectly could cause problems and even cost you money. Who owns the design copyright? According to www.gov.uk "In the case of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, the author or creator of the work is usually the first owner of any copyright in it. An exception is where artistic work is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary)." Another exception to this rule concerns brand identity work, such as logo design (which the company will trade mark as their own) or websites, which require updating frequently. Hopefully we can avoid this kind of ownership dispute - but in summary, as the client you are paying for the final artwork, not the tools that made it.





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