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