Outsourcing design work has become increasingly popular, so how do you articulate what you think you need, when creativity is not necessarily a skill that you possess?
Trusting in the expertise, track record and ability of those with whom you’re working is imperative. So is knowing that before beginning their creative process, they carry out competitive analysis and have an understanding of your customer/s, as just a couple of examples.
And of course, a detailed, well-written and robust brief from you is crucial to achieving the desired results.
Here are my 5 tips for writing a strong brief for an agency – one that’s far more likely to be successful – if you’re looking to outsource.
Designers worth their weight will be asking you many and varied questions from the outset. As I mentioned earlier, these should include your company’s values, customer persona/s, objectives, to see your brand guidelines etc. If they’re not, then I’d wonder why… they’re key to creating designs that will both resonate with your target audience and meet your goals for the project.
They might also challenge you (we often do) on what you think you need. This might sound arrogant or argumentative, but it really isn’t. We’ve had situations where, for example, we’ve been commissioned to design a new website, and identified early on that the issue wasn’t the site design at all. It was the messaging and customer journey that needed attention. We gave the right advice and saved that client money.
State your objectives
What do you want to achieve with your design project? Stating your objectives clearly and concisely will help your agency to focus on the most important aspects of the project and ensure that they deliver results that meet your goals. These should be measurable and achievable – and align with your company’s overall strategy.
Creativity – and how to manage it effectively
When it comes to design, visual aids can be useful. Providing examples of designs that you feel work or have a particular relevance can help designers to understand your aesthetic preferences and avoid designs that don’t align with your vision.
You should certainly feel comfortable providing feedback throughout the design process. This will help the team to refine their work to meet your expectations.
Unless you are a creative yourself, do remember that you’ve chosen and paid to work with specialists to assist you in an area in which you know you have less experience/talent.
Do listen to the justification for creative approaches, as they will (should) have been built with your customer In mind. I can’t stress enough the importance of remembering that you are not necessarily your customer. If it’s not a solution that you ‘like’, is that because the media campaign, brochure or packaging isn’t aimed at you?
Deliverables, Timeline and Management
It might sound obvious but be really clear. Do you need that brochure printed by a certain date, or your campaign live and humming nicely? Do you want 300 brochures or 30,000? – the latter will take far longer to print…
Make sure you specify the deliverables that you expect from the design team, providing a timeline for the project, including key milestones and deadlines. This will help them manage their time effectively and ensure that your project is completed on time, within budget and that the finished product is as you expect.
At Yellowyoyo we create timelines as a matter of course, in collaboration with our clients, but I’m aware that that’s not always the case.
Another area that can become tricky is around the management of print. Not a medium that’s as widely used now, but it’s re-emerging, certainly has its place, and is always hugely useful for BDMs out there selling on your behalf…
Print management is an area you might be tempted to take in-house, rather than afford. Your choice, of course, but I would firmly recommend that you don’t.
If you’ve gone to the expense and trouble of having, for example, a beautiful brochure designed, do everyone a favour and allow the creatives to finish the job. That way you can ensure that you’re supplied with the dream pieces of collateral that you bought into.
Resist the temptation to google a local printer and get a cheap option. Your agency will (certainly should) have good contacts with whom they have leverage, they understand the terminology and know the best finishes/stock etc.
This is of course key when it comes to outsourcing design work.
Establish clear lines of communication with the design team. Provide a point of contact who can answer questions and give feedback throughout the project, and make sure that your agency does the same.
Depending on the length of the project, you should be provided with a schedule of regular meets, to ensure that the project is on track and that any issues are addressed promptly.
There are many wonderful aspects to outsourcing creative projects – being inspired, delighted and proud being only a few. I hope that these tips are useful.
A final word from our happy client, Candice Mason, Founder of Mother Cuppa Tea…
“The reaction to Mother Cuppa Tea has been really fantastic.
Everybody says how beautiful it looks and I’m really proud, proud because it’s everything I wanted to achieve with Mother Cuppa Tea. I feel I’ve launched with a really strong brand, look, feel and message.
If you’re considering working with Yellowyoyo then I would 100% recommend it!”
If you’d like to experience working with us for yourself, then get in touch!