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Freelance Graphic Designer: A Pre-work Checklist

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Graphic designers are visual problem solvers.  Yes, they are the creators of pretty.  But more importantly they achieve brand objectives by making things look better, read better, function better through design.  When retaining a freelance graphic designer, improve the likelihood of a productive collaboration by providing them with some or all of the items below.  The point is to provide project context, color and demonstrable direction that will help them achieve your design goals:    

  • A detailed creative brief that clarifies:

  • the design challenge at hand (eg: brochure)

  •  the brand problem the design is to solve (eg:. launch of a new product from your brand)

  • design specifications (eg:. size, paper, how it fits in with other materials)

  • design mandatories (eg:. items they must include in the design, such as logo, brand color palette, boilerplate company description)

  • design avoidances (eg: are there images that are overused by your industry than you don’t want used)

  • design considerations (eg: this they might use – additional colors, suggested images, paper orientation)

  • budget

  • project calendar with clear milestones and final deadline (and a statement about how many rounds of revisions are expected)

    1. Established corporate design guidelines, including how a logo can be presented and not, brand primary and secondary color palette, etc. (provide Pantone or RGB values), fonts

    2. Examples of other company brand designs you like and don’t like, with a brief explanation why or why not

    3. Links to competitor websites, pointing out what you like, what to avoid, how your brand is different

    4. Competitive materials that you liked or didn’t like, with a brief explanation why

    5. Additional examples of items designed for you brand that position the company and its products/services

    6. Brand strategy documents that provide insight to positioning, brand objectives and goals

    7. Background materials or description of the product/service being promoted, with an explanation of why it’s a good thing, what it does, what are the features/benefits, etc.

    8. Project specific materials such as final copy to be used in the design and approved image files

With a clear understanding of the problem they are to solve, and the background they need to make good visual decisions, all your designer needs now is the respect, space and freedom to allow the magic to happen.  Within the project timetable you’ve outlined in the creative brief, of course!