Brightening the world, one project at a time
When was the last time you had a good chat with your designer?
Author and blogger Seth Godin recently provided some food for thought on how to brief a designer. (Pro-tip for our readers: The “I’ll know it when I see it” approach is an excellent way to drive up costs in a hurry.) In our experience, B2B clients – just like B2C clients – often have an idea about how their finished project should look. Sometimes it’s a highly specific vision, and other times it’s a more of a vague notion. In both cases, it’s the job of our creative team to translate the input to a design that tells a coherent story. But what input exactly yields the best results? Our graphic designers Monique, Sander, Robbert and Luc chat about the dos and don’ts of design briefs in B2B marketing.
Laying the groundwork
Monique: A good B2B design brief clearly states the objectives, defines the target audience, and explains the scope of the project. This is true for any marketing project to succeed, not just B2B. But you’d be surprised how often these elements are overlooked!
Luc: It needs to tell you what kind of materials and media you’re producing and where they’re going to be used. If the client already has an idea about the overall look and feel – like should it be quirky and bright or more conservative – it’s helpful if they pass that on.
Sander: Yeah and if there’s a style guide, a corporate identity document or any other supporting materials, send them over! Getting these resources from a B2B client may be a bit of a challenge because they typically have fewer people (than in B2C) working in marketing and communications, but it really helps and saves time later on if we know of any ‘do nots’ or rules from the start. A brief needs to be as specific as possible but still allow for creative freedom…
Robbert: Ha! So be specific but not too specific…
Sander: Basically, yes! What I mean is be as specific as you need to be to make sure the design is going to fit with the company and the brand identity, but leave room for suggestions and creativity too – because that’s why you’re turning to a designer! [Editor’s note: Visit the blog of marketing automation heavyweight Marketo for more on how and why B2B marketing can benefit from creativity.] It’s also great to have a written brief rather than relying on scribbled notes during a telephone call.
Monique: Definitely. Verbal briefs alone don’t work so well. Sure, you need the opportunity to ask questions and talk to someone about your ideas, but you also need visual or written cues to refer back to when you’re working. It helps if clients include as much detail as they can, and try and avoid subjective statements like “Make it look pretty!”
Sander: (Rolls eyes) Or “make it pop!” what is that supposed to mean?
Luc: That’s a good one!
Giving and receiving feedback
Luc: It’s the same once you’ve developed the first ideas and ask for feedback, if a client simply says, “It doesn’t speak to me,” it’s hard to understand how to amend the design. If they can tell you what they like (the colors, the font, the shapes and images, etc.) and what they don’t like, it’s so much more constructive and easier to work with.
Robbert: That’s true. It’s much easier to offer advice and suggest alternatives if the feedback is clear. And if you notice that the people reviewing the design are unsure which direction to move in, I’ve sometimes suggested a briefing workshop or joint brainstorming session to try and align.
Luc: If you’re working with a new client or on a new product or sub-brand, that’s especially important. For sub-brands, for example, it’s helpful to have a conversation about how much of the B2B design of the parent brand you want and need to reflect. Over the long term, does the client have the budget and resources to support the ongoing design work that the sub-brand requires? [Editor’s note: KPUNKT was founded on the understanding that B2B marketing teams operate differently from B2C marketing teams. We’ll tell you more in person.] And don’t forget the words. Get the copywriters involved, so you can discuss how visuals and text will work together.
Robbert: I guess the key is to keep talking to each other…
Sander: He loves talking!
Robbert: Yeah, yeah. I mean to keep in contact with clients and colleagues so you can bounce ideas around from the start.
Monique: Absolutely. Clear communication is what our job is all about, whether you’re communicating with the client or creating visuals that communicate a message to the target audience.
Sander: But what we’re really saying “is be nice to designers, we can make your day brighter!”
Thanks, guys! And keep up the good work!
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