Briefing (print): how to ask your client the right questions

February 23, 2014

Briefing Print: how to ask the right questions, AM-Insider article by Sarah Ritchie

By day, mild-mannered store window signs. By night…have mercy on my eyes!

Was the double-siding of these posters an ingenious cost-saving move, or an “easy mistake to make”? At what stage in the design/print/production process could this literal eyesore have been avoided? My guess would be right at the very beginning – at the time the brief was taken by the account manager.

Taking a successful brief comes down to one important thing: asking the right questions. You cannot hope to supply accurate pricing or produce a successful printed product if you are working on only a couple of specs.

Learning to ask the right questions can take years of trial and error, so here is a helpful list that you can use for your next print project. 

  • Finished and flat size
  • Number of pages (text/cover)
  • Number of colours (4-colour, spot)
  • Number of kinds
  • Quantity
  • Stock/substrate
  • Binding (wiro, saddle stitched, perfect bound, hand bound…)
  • Finishing (spot UV, foiling, embossing, diecutting, padding…)
  • Type of printing (digital, offset, photocopied, line form, screen printed, gravure…)
  • What do you want the design/production to achieve? (attract attention, call to action, share information, inspire, sell product…)
  • Where will the item be used? (on walls, windows, interior, exterior, cold, hot, chiller, bright sunshine, back lit, unaddressed mail, counter top, floor decal…)
  • What is the expected lifespan of the printed item? (affects choice of inks, substrate, printing method)
  • Do you need to consider FSC, environmental, recyclable, biodegradable, non-toxic, etc?
  • Type of use (use once and throw away, use then store, use until it needs replacing)
  • Can cost/time efficiencies be gained by changing the specs?
  • Who will use it/look at it? (children/adults, small/large print, cultural preferences…)
  • What is the deadline? (can affect the print process chosen, paper chosen, compromising on specs)
  • What is the budget? (could dictate how a job needs to be printed)
  • What are the competitors doing? (do you need/want to be different or similar? what are they doing right/wrong?)
  • What are the mandatories? (logos, colours, images, tag lines, web addresses, QR codes, barcodes, legals…)
  • How will the items be distributed and where are the delivery points?
  • What could go wrong/what do we need to avoid?  ANSWER: If we put a double-sided poster on a backlit window we will probably cause eye strain and headaches within the viewing public. Single-sided posters, anyone?!

“AM-Insider Briefs for download

Article originally featured on the Design Assembly website | 7 October 2013

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