A Step-By-Step Guide To Briefing A Graphic Designer To Get What You Need!

Good graphic design may get someone’s attention for a second, but great graphic design will capture someone’s interest and have them wanting to know more.

Whenever you start a business, one of the key people you have to work with is a graphic designer. If you want a logo that’s unique and appealing, a Facebook cover image that speaks to your audience or images for your website that makes you stand out from the crowd, anything artwork related basically, then you will need the service of a graphic designer and you will need to be damn good at briefing them if you want to get a good result!


The quality of work from a graphic designer does rely on their skills and experience, but even more so, it relies on your design brief. So, here is our recommended process to brief a graphic designer correctly from the start!

1. Provide an overview of your business

Before you start laying out the bits and pieces you want to be included in the design, give your graphic designer an overview of your company. Even if they are already familiar with your company it doesn’t hurt to remind them of a few important details. For example, you could include:

  • What sort of business are you?
  • What products or services do you sell?
  • What makes you unique and stand out from the crowd?

2. Set clear and measurable Goals & Objectives:

Most advertising campaigns will have clear objectives & targets you want to reach as a business. More often than not they will be revenue based; sometimes they are brand awareness related. Whatever your goals are for your artwork, it’s important that your graphic designer is aware of them and is even on-board with achieving them. We often provide bonuses or extra incentive to the designer if our objectives are exceeded – that way you get their full commitment and they will also feel part of the team, which is always nice!

Some more examples of objectives include:

  • differentiating against the competitors
  • addressing customer feedback
  • refreshing an old or tired brand/product or service
  • launching a new product or service
  • increasing revenue
  • responding to market research & insights
  • attending an event or conference
  • increase brand awareness

3. Define your Target market & key messages:

This section is an obvious but an important one. It’s where you tell the designer who they are speaking to and what key messages you want to get across to your audience. You might say something like, “Both men and women between the ages of 25 and 40 who are looking for outdoor adventures.” Be as specific as you can here – include their likes & dislikes, their hobbies and even where they like to hang out. The more info you can provide about the audience the better!

With the key messages, you want to be concise but descriptive. For example, a key message for us here at Milk it Digital is – Educating businesses on how to navigate the digital world with HARD DATA, no more guesswork! And another one is – Helping businesses to Milk it for what it’s worth. Also include your companies USP’s (unique selling propositions), that is your reason to buy, the points of difference that speak to the target audience for this particular campaign/artwork.

4. Provide the Design Specifications:

This is the technical part, where you provide all the “jargon,” so your designer has everything that they need to get started with the job. The best way to do this is by providing your corporate style guide. Not all small businesses have these at hand though (if you don’t have one, we strongly recommend you get one!). A branding expert is the right person to help you with creating a style guide and it’s something that we know all about here at MI Acadmey so feel free to give us a hola if you need a hand.

In the absence of a style guide, here is a checklist of things you should always include in the design specifications:

  • Is the artwork required for print (300dpi) or online (72dpi) or both?
  • What are the sizing requirements (height & width), usually specified in “pixles”?
  • What are your brand colours & what other colours do you want used? Always supply both RGB and CMYK colour options.
  • What fonts do you want used? Is it ok to use bold, italic, underline and CAPS?
  • What are the guidelines for your logo usage?
  • Are there any stock images or photography you want used or are you happy for the designer to select them? (NOTE: if the designer is selecting them then give clear direction on what sort of images you want used)

5. Choose from 5 logo types.

When asking a graphic designer to design a logo for your business, be very specific in the kind of logo you want to have. Here are 5 types of logos that you can choose from:


    • Symbol or Icon. This type of logo  uses an abstract or an image that represents the company. The images used for this purpose is usually plain and simple so consumers will remember them easily. Example: Apple, Shell, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Telsra
    • Word Mark. Logos that are Work Mark type are usually spells out the company name. The word may be handwritten or follows  a specific font. Examples: Sony, Coca-Cola
    • Letter Mark. Letter Mark logos are similar to Work Mark, but uses one to three letters instead of spelling out the whole company name. Example: HP, GE
    • Combination. This type of logo usually uses a combination of a Symbol or Icon and a Word Mark. Example: Adidas, Sprint, The North Face, Walt Disney
  • Emblem. Similar to combination type, Emblem may be a combination of Symbol and Letter Mark. Usually, the letter mark is incorporated within the symbol design. Example: BMW, Peugeot

6. Give Copy direction, examples & wire-frames:

If you have a copywriter to write your content then this is a good start! Include the copy in the brief and give detail of your companies “tone of voice” – are you fun, friendly, corporate, serious? This will help the designer to understand what sort of artwork to use along-side the copy.

Then, to help things along even further, one of the best ways to inform and inspire your designers is to provide examples of other designs you like. A good way to do this is making a Pinterest board and linking to it in your brief. You can go one step further and also provide “wire-frames” (basic outlined drawings) of how you would like the design to be laid out and look. But be careful here because if you provide too much detail in a wire-frame you will restrict the creative opportunity of the designer and may end up with boring/plain looking artwork. It’s important to ensure the designer has room to move creatively and can use their creativity to make an amazing design for you – that’s what you are paying them for after all!

7. List out the Deliverables:

There are a number of important things you should always request from the designer as part of the deliverables, this will also assist them with quoting the project accurately. These include:

  • How many concepts do you need to see? We like to ask for 2 to 3 usually, depending on the job.
  • How many rounds of changes do you need? This can vary greatly depending on the job but three is usually a good start.
  • How should the artwork be delivered? Via FTP, email, dropbox or snail mail?
  • What formats do you need the artwork in? JPEG, PNG, Ai, PDF, PSD…
  • Are print proofs required?
  • Do you want the designer to arrange printing or will you?
  • IMPORTANT! Final artwork should always be delivered in either Illustrator (*.ai file format) or Photoshop (*.psd format) – ideally both if possible. HOT TIP: ensure the file is delivered as a fully-layered version. If it does not include the layers then it’s useless to you!

8. Deadline & budget:

Last but not least, let the designer needs to know a realistic budget that they should work towards. We say “realistic” because design work can often cost a lot of money and you want to be sure that the person you are engaging for the job can work within your budget.

You should also provide a project timeline with due dates to ensure everything moves smoothly and everyone knows who is accountable for what.

The timeline could look something like this:

  • First round of concepts due (by designer)
  • Final concept selection due (by business)
  • First round of artwork due (by designer)
  • Change requests – round 1 (by business)
  • Second round of artwork due (by designer)
  • Change requests – round 2 (by business)
  • Third round of artwork due (by designer)
  • Change requests – round 3 (by business)
  • Final artwork approved (by business)
  • Final artwork sent to printers
  • Final art delivered from printers

Make sure you plan these dates out carefully, include time for internal feedback, approvals & changes (these are often missed out of the timeline and can cause deadlines to slip). Our tip here is to add in a bit of a “buffer” into the timeline because there is always slippage, whether it’s on the designers’ part or the businesses, it almost always happens!

And that’s a wrap folks! 

OK, so now you have all the tools you need to brief any graphic designer like a boss! The great thing about this process is that it can also be applied when briefing other third party suppliers such as web designers or developers. With just a few tweaks this process can be applied to most briefing situations for your business! If you take the time to write a brief properly the first time, all you need to do it update it each time a new job comes along. It might take an hour or two to complete this process first up but trust us; you WILL get much better output this way and save time in the long run.

If you find that your graphic designer produces artwork that still does not align to the brief, they are sloppy, miss things or miss deadlines then you know for sure the issue is NOT with you and it’s time to say thank you for the memories but goodbye.

Was this helpful? Let us know. Also, if there is anything we have missed please comment below.

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