Tips for a Good Design Brief

Tips for a ­Good Design Brief

In order to get the best out of your designer it is important to supply him or her with a comprehensive Design Brief.  Whilst it is the designer’s responsibility for creating and bringing life to the design, there are certain things that you, the client, can do to ensure the process runs smoothly and produces the best possible artwork.  Who knows, these tips may even save you time and/or money along the way!

The Basic Outline

The basic outline is a brief description of your requirements which should include the following things:

  • A brief description of your business.  This gives the designer an idea of what you do.
  • What are you trying to achieve?  State the purpose of the design.
  • Who are the target/primary audience?
  • Keywords describing the desired look and feel if the design (i.e. corporate, modern, trustworthy etc)

Design Specifications

It is essential that correct specifications are provided to the designer at the earliest opportunity.  It is not always straightforward for the designer to alter these retrospectively, and sometimes this will incur additional charges.  Providing the designer with the answer to the following questions:

  • Is the design for web, print or both?
  • What are the dimensions or size of the design? i.e. A4 or 120mm x 80mm
  • What file formats does the final artwork need to be delivered in? (i.e. pdf, jpg, gif etc)

Providing Copy and Images

One of the biggest frustrations for a designer is being provided with very low resolution images by the client – try to provide the best quality images you can.  When submitting copy (or text) for the design make sure this is in a format that the designer can ‘copy and paste’ from (i.e. MS Word) rather than having to type it all out.  This will save the designer time meaning he or she can dedicate more time to the atheistic aspects of the design.

A Simple Sketch

Don’t be afraid to submit a simple hand-drawn sketch with your design brief.  Even if you are not the most artistic of people, a simple sketch of your ideas or design layout will quickly give the designer an insight of your intentions.  If you don’t deal with your designer face-to-face then you can always scan your sketch and email it over.

Examples of Work

Don’t get me wrong, we all want our artwork to be unique, but there is no harm in sending your designer a few examples of relevant work that you like the look of.  This will narrow it right down and give the designer a clear idea of the type of design that you are trying to achieve.  This can really speed up the design process as the initial draft is likely to be on the right track rather than it taking 3 or 4 drafts for the designer to understand your requirements.

If you follow these tips you should be well on your way to receiving a great design!

By Kingsley Thompson
Pocket Money Designs

Benefits of Targeted Marketing

One of the most important tips for businesses on a budget is targeted marketing.  It will increase your sales, it will save you time and it will save you money.

Take leaflet distribution for an example.  Why waste money printing and time distributing 25,000 leaflets across your city when they may only be relevant to 1 in 100 recipients?  If 1 in 10 of these recipients decide to contact you in response to your leaflet then that equates to 25 leads from 25,000 leaflets.  This is hardly a great hit rate (and these figures could be optimistic!).

Who are your customers?

Firstly you need to ask yourself:  Who are your potential or target customers?  Are they small business owners?  Are they 18-30’s?  Are they parents? (and so on).  It is important that every business knows it target market and where it expects the majority of its business to come from.  The vast majority of your marketing plan should be based around this.

Where do they ‘hang out’? Advertise there!

Once you have decided on your target customers you need to figure out where they ‘hang out’.  If your target customers are parents for example, then the majority of them will attend local schools to drop off or collect their children.  Why not hand out your leaflets there? Or at least pin one to the school notice board.  If your target customers are small business owners, then they often attend networking events and local business forums.  Why not go along and hand out your literature to anyone who may be interested?  Business owners also approach accountants in the early stages.  Could you arrange for some leaflets to go in the accountant’s office?  Think outside the box

The beauty of targeted marketing is just that: It’s targeted.  Instead of printing and distributing 25,000 leaflets to get 25 leads, try distributing 1,000 targeted leaflets, you’ll be surprised at the result…

By Kingsley from Pocket Money Designs

Looking for effective leaflet design?

Happy Shoppers

So you think you know your customers? Retail expert Lynn Allison argues how many stores are still getting it wrong when it comes to service

In an experiment carried out by Harvard University, half of the respondents asked to count the number of times a ball got passed around on a video failed to spot a man in a gorilla costume. This was even after he’d stopped to face the camera, beat his chest and walked slowly off the screen again. The authors commented afterwards: “It was as though the gorilla was invisible. This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much.” About a year ago I began thinking about my own high street and online shopping experiences. They had morphed from the simple frustration of not being able to find items I wanted into a deeper fixation about why, especially in the recession, retailers weren’t addressing these problems. Couldn’t they see that small changes to encourage a few extra sales could add up to a significant increase in turnover? And that these changes could be the difference between scraping through the tough times and having a really successful year? It was then that I realised, like the experimenters at Harvard, that it was a form of unintentional blindness. Retailers didn’t seem to notice the same things that I did, or realise some customers would give up on shopping before purchasing anything because of these minor frustrations turning into barriers. Despite being trained in customer service, they’re so busy ‘doing what they are supposed to do’ that they not only miss something obvious, but don’t even realise there’s anything to miss. So what are these frustrations that could be costing you money without you knowing it? Well, it’s time to introduce you to The Chameleon – your customer. I believe that customers are like chameleons – they change. They change their needs as they move around your shop and they change their criteria depending on what type of buyer they are. Some of these can be influenced and some can’t. But knowing what their world is like and understanding their criteria means you can make small but significant changes that might just turn a ‘no thank you’ into a ‘yes-please.’ And knowing their world will certainly give your boutique that winning edge over your larger competitors.

Customer need number one: “I need to understand what you’re telling me”

  • Make sure customers can see where to go next as soon as they enter the store
  • When they get there, make sure the product descriptions, sizes and prices are easy to read
  • Identify your target market and work out what their key criteria for making a purchase (price/style/exclusivity/convenience – or something else?). Now make sure you set up your store to match – if you understand how customers are deciding what to buy, then you have more chance of selling to them
  • Ensure your marketing messages are not all about you and that they engage your customers by talking about them and their needs

Customer need two: “I need to buy at a time that suits me”

  • If customers have a need now, why not satisfy it? If your processes are fixed to a strict schedule of seasonal buying, you’re at the mercy of the weather making your customers want to buy something that you don’t have. Consider whether this is in the best interests of your business and whether sales could be gained by stocking some items for longer or all year round
  • Don’t apply fashion season rules to non-fashion items; if this happens in your store, ask your customers if it suits them – if it doesn’t, change it

Customer need three: “I need to avoid items I cannot buy”

  • Don’t spend any time or money offering things to customers who cannot buy them – show them only what they can buy
  • Don’t put any financial barriers in front of customers. Find out what features they’re interested in and use the information to organise and label the products
  • Arrange sale clothing by size, not price

Customer need four: “I don’t want to repeat myself”

  • Make sure data is kept up to date and cleansed, firstly so that you comply with the law, but secondly so that you don’t annoy customers who have already given you valuable information
  • Follow-up enquiries: knowing why someone has not bought from you is just as important as knowing why they have and there might be a sale just waiting for someone to ask for it
  • Listen to what customers tell you and make a note of it – it’s the most valuable data there is.

In a way this is a back-to-basics message. Don’t confuse information with knowledge – having facts and figures to hand is not the same as understanding all the people who buy from you, what motivates them and what criteria they use. Ask your customers how they feel in ways that are meaningful and specific. Listen to the answers. Test your theories, measure the results and test again. If you recognise the truth of any of these condensed tips then there is good news: because you’re reading this, you’ll be able to change what you do and see if it makes a difference. As an owner, you can make decisions quickly, creating a kind of super customer service where The Chameleon is comfortable everywhere it goes because you are meeting its changing needs. Following on from the recession, small differences count. So have a go at catching your customers.

By Lynn Allison FCIM

Chartered marketer
Author of retail guide, Catching The Chameleon, which is available from

Flyer Printing Explained

We have recently been asked by a few of our customers what’s the difference between a flyer and a leaflet and why do printers ask for CMYK rather than RGB.
A flyer (flier is the American spelling) is a single page paper leaflet usually advertising a company, service, event, special offer or nightclub. The low-cost of modern flyer printing means that flyers are an incredibly popular and cost-effective method of advertising. They are suitable for everything from a small display in a retail premises to a large-scale mail shot. Flyers are often handed out on the street (not surprisingly this is called flyering) however in some areas permission has to be sought due to anti littering laws.

Whilst similar in purpose to leaflets, flyers are usually printed on a thicker media. Flyer printing is usually done on a 300gsm glossy card whilst leaflets are usually supplied on 130gsm paper. As computing technology has evolved the cost of desktop publishing equipment (basically an average home computer) has fallen into the reach of the average consumer. Coupled with the reduction in costs of flyer printing due to developments in the production of cheaper printing plates and online print batching, flyers are now perhaps the most cost-effective method of promotion.

Flyers commonly appear in the following sizes:

DL (99mm x 210mm)
A5 (148mm x 210mm)
A6 (105mm x 148mm)
A7 (74mm x 105mm)
Business Card (85mm x 55mm)

Flyers can also have a variety of extras such as:

Die Cutting- Where the flyers are cut to a shape other than the usual rectangular
Spot Varnish – Where a reflective varnish is applied in certain areas to produce an eye catching finish
Drilling – Holes are literally drilled into the flyers. This can be used for basic binding or just as an effect.

Flyer printing itself can be one of several different methods. The most popular two are digital and litho printing.

Digital printing uses what is basically a very large laser printer. The advantage of this is that there are no printing plates to be made. This means that the cost of printing small quantities of flyers is very low. Unfortunately it also means that there is little cost benefit for printing higher volumes. Digital printing generally becomes more expensive than litho printing around quantities of 1000. In addition to this the quality of digitally printed flyers is generally considered to be slightly lower than that of litho-printed flyers. We use bank of very high-end Konica Minolta printers to produce our digital flyers.

Litho printing (sometimes called offset printing) uses the large traditional printing presses that you usually think of when you think of printing. These presses really can be huge and the 4 colour printing presses with finishing head we use are around 40 feet long and weight many tonnes. These machines are great at producing high quantities of flyers but their printing plates cost a fair amount to produce and a full colour print needs 4 plates to produce which means that it’s generally not viable to print quantities of less than 1-2000 sheets. Traditionally printing plates were created using exposure units and film negatives however these days we have direct computer to plate printing technology which has reduced the plating costs significantly. Online print sales have also increased the number of print orders taken in a normal day. This means that flyer printing jobs of the same size can be placed next to each other on the sheets of paper and the cost of making the printing plates split between the jobs. This has resulted in a standardisation across the print industry in terms of not only printing sizes but also order quantities. Generally quantities for offset printing are in multiples of 5000 so that larger orders can simply take up several spaces on a sheet.

Some of the more eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that I described the print press as being 4 colour. You may have seen this before in spec for flyer printing and is sometimes shown as 4/4 i.e 4 colours on the front and 4 colours on the back. Using a method known as process printing, four colours are mixed to produce the required colours on the paper. You may have heard of these colours listed as CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). CMYK process printing is able to reproduce a vast range of colours but it does have some limitations. Computer screen mix red, green and blue light to produce colours. The more red, green or blue you add the brighter the colour. This is very different from CMYK where the more colour you add the darker the colour. The end result is that the colours we are able to print on paper is different to the range of colours that can be displayed on-screen. Generally this manifests itself as slightly duller and more washed out colours than you’d see on screen. Process printing can also have problems matching an exact tone of colour and the colour balance can wander slightly. For an average flyer print this isn’t a problem but many corporate customers have exact Pantone colours for their logos. This is usually solved by either restricting the number of colours on the print to such an extent that process printing isn’t required and instead each of the print heads can print a distinct colour or by process printing the flyer as normal and then having a fifth print head print the exact Pantone colour needed.

Many modern image programs are able to handle files that are in CMYK and will even provide a respectable preview of the colours you’ll get on your final print. We do suggest using a package such as Adobe Photoshop to preview your artwork as it will highlight any colour changes that would occur in the flyer printing process.

by Ian from 1ClickPrint (Sheffield Branch)

Top tips for a great logo

1. Less is More
Leonardo Da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – This statement applies perfectly to logos.  Too many colours, too many pictures or icons, and a generally “too busy” logo is not a good idea.  The majority of the most famous and iconic logos consist of just one or two colours.  Not only do fewer colours help with the logistics of printing your logo, it also increases the visual impact of the logo.  The same can be said for images or icons, as more than one icon will start to take the focus away from what you want people to see.  An easy way to test the visual impact of your logo is to convert it to black and white.  The best logos will lose little, to no impact.

2. Vector NOT Raster
When designing your logo it is important that it is created in a vector format (.eps, .pdf, .ai etc).  To cut a long story short, a vector graphic uses geometric co-ordinates such as points, lines, curves, and shapes (based on mathematical equations) to represent an image.  This means a vector image can be scaled up infinitely whilst still looking perfectly crisp (i.e. enlarging a business card sized image to a billboard sized image without any loss of quality).  Save yourself the headache of having to re-create your logo as a vector in the future, as you never know what you might be printing your logo on!  There are various vector based software packages such as Adobe Illustrator and CoralDraw to name a few.

3. Represent your Business
It doesn’t matter how aesthetically pleasing your logo is if it doesn’t relate to your business in anyway.  Unless you are a corporate powerhouse (such as Nike & McDonald’s etc) you can’t afford to miss the opportunity to use your logo to highlight to your potential customers exactly what you do.  This can be achieved in a number of ways; you may choose to include an icon or image relating to your services/product, you may decide to have some sub-text (such as a slogan) incorporated, or you may be able to come up with a clever way of using the font type to represents your business.  Don’t be afraid to research and analyse your competitor’s logos.

4. Choosing a Font and a Colour Scheme
For a beginner my advice would be to find a nice clean font and create a single icon or vector image to accompany it.  Generally fonts such as Comic Sans and other cartoon or children’s handwriting style fonts should be avoided (unless of course there is a link to your business, such as a Children’s Day Nursery).  When selecting the colour scheme of your logo try to avoid absolute red (RGB: 255,0,0) absolute green (RGB: 0,255,0) and absolute blue (RGB: 0,0,255) as these colours tend to look cheap and tacky.  There are various websites and books that demonstrate effective colour combinations.

For more information on logo design read our articles.

Pocket Money Designs offers quality, affordable designs for start-up, small and growing businesses.

Welcome to the blog

Pocket Money Marketing is a FREE service offering effective marketing tips and advice for businesses on a tight budget.  Whether you are thinking about starting-up, or you already own a small or growing business, here you will find all you need to help you take your business to the next level.

Be sure to return regularly as there will be input from experts in various fields of marketing such as PR Consultants, Graphic Designers, Website Developers,  SEO Specialists and many more.


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