Unless you’re lucky enough to have an artist in your marketing team, you’ll probably need to commission a specialist, but how do you brief a designer to make sure the finished product does your organisation credit?

Design work is pricey and can quickly swallow up a chunk of your marketing budget. It also takes time to collate the content of a website or a publication – many hours go into writing copy, arranging photography and thinking about the structure and tone of your organisation’s marketing materials. So, it is well worth doing all you can to make sure your designer is on your wavelength from the start and can present you with an end product that does your organisation proud.

Although you’ll want to give your designer plenty of information to go on, it’s important to stop short of describing a design you have in mind yourself. Designing materials – whether printed or electronic – is all about team-working, and coming up with a design concept that suits you and your organisation is usually the result of a collaborative process.

The idea is that you present your designer with the background to the project, your hopes and dreams for it, and then let the professional do the rest. A good designer will be able to translate your brief into the design you didn’t know you wanted.

What to include:

Your brand: Your designer will want to understand the character of your organisation, what it stands for and who it’s aimed at. You’ll need to explain your market and the messages you’re aiming to convey through every aspect of your communications with the outside world, including the current project.

Your current style: Prepare a pack for your designer, including your existing printed materials, and send links to any online branded communications, such as your organisation’s website or e-newsletter. Make sure your designer has your brand guidelines, including colours, fonts and any other design requirements and explain to your designer how important it is to stick to them!

Style departure: If you are looking to graduate from your previous design style, let your designer how far you are willing to digress, including making clear any aspects that are non-negotiable and why. It’s often worth squirreling away a few examples of design work you admire which you can pass to your designer for inspiration.

Project planning: Your designer will need to know the timescale, deliverables and budget – and if there is any wiggle room.

Regular assessment: Agree a timeline with built-in opportunities for assessment – that way, if the design or project is veering off-piste it won’t take too much work or time to get it back on track.

Roles: It’s important to be clear about the designer’s responsibilities and those of you and your team. If your colleagues are to be involved in providing any part of the project – written content or photography, for example – make sure they are also involved in discussions with the designer.

Objectives: Tell your designer what you want this project to achieve. Remember that objectives can be emotional as well as practical – how do you want people to feel when they see or experienced this piece of design work? And what do you want to encourage them to do next?

If you put time and thought into planning the brief for your designer, your project should run smoothly and result in a piece of design work that is admired by your target market and envied by your competitors!