The thing is, as a business owner you’ll have needed to brief a graphic designer for your business book cover at some point, and if you’ve never done it before (or not very often) it can be hard to know where to start. If you’ve ever been unhappy with your design result, this may be because the communication between you and the designer has not worked as well as it could.
As an ex-marketing bod I spent 25 years working with graphic designers (gulp, is it really that long?) and thought it would be helpful if I share with you what I’ve learned. You deserve a great result and your designer will thank you for briefing him or her in the best way. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did in my early days!
Designers are like superheroes – they need tight briefs.
Writing a brief is an essential first step; not only does it help the designer but it forces you to get your thoughts in order. But what does a brief consist of?
– A clear objective. What’s the one thing you want the design to achieve?
– Background. What has led to the need for this brief? This helps the designer to put it into context.
– A budget. How much do you have to spend? If in doubt ask the designer for some guidance on this. Also make sure that you know how many sets of revisions they will include in the price, and if they will be charging extra for sourced images.
– Usage. What will the design be used for – a flyer, a web banner, a business card? How flexible does it need to be? Are there are any size restrictions? In what circumstances and situations will the design be seen and used?
– Proposition. This is the nub of the brief. What’s the unique selling point that you want the design to convey? What makes your business special? You don’t want your design to look like everyone else’s.
– Audience. Who is the design aimed at? Try and paint a picture with words, describing example readers. This will make a fundamental difference to the outcome.
– Tone of voice. If the design were a person, what kind of personality would it have? Friendly? Upbeat? Relaxing?
– Competitors. Make the designer aware of your competitors’ books; it helps to put your cover design into the right context.
– Existing restrictions. Are there any pre-existing logos or design elements that the designer should be aware of before they start?
– Deadline. When do you need it by? Be realistic here; rush jobs will always be a fact of life but if you can give the designer a decent time frame you’re more likely to get good results.
After you’ve written your brief, have a chat with the designer preferably face to face, but if that’s not possible, at least over the phone. This will give both of you the chance to develop your ideas and you’d be surprised at what comes out of it.
OK so I’ve briefed my designer and I’ve got the first designs, now what?
Give the designer structured and objective feedback. It’s fine to have personal preferences, but he/she will need more to go on than ‘I don’t like it’. Also if you do like something, it’s helpful to the designer to explain why; that way they can develop it further. And please keep in mind your target audience; you may not like something, but that doesn’t mean to say that they won’t. For that reason I’d be careful about showing designs to friends and family, unless they are in the group you are aiming at.
I hope that’s been helpful. How about you? Have you got a great design story to tell, or a nightmare one? Do share.
And if you’re not sure what the next step is for your business book, consider applying for a free, half hour strategy session with me here. I’ll help you work out what to do next.