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    Category Archives: guest blog

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    How to write a great design brief

    Our guest columnist Nat Carroll is back today with a follow-up to her popular article Why Write a Design Brief. Having been convinced that this is essential for the creative process to flourish between client and designer, she outlines what should be included and how best to get your point across (or draw it out from a client). Thanks, Nat!

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    You’ve been pondering over your business idea for weeks, months — perhaps even years. You know it inside out and back to front. It’s your baby, and it WILL be brilliant! But, here lies an obstacle: how do you best communicate to a graphic designer the details, tiny nuances and objectives you have, that require their creative input?

    Achieving design that truly represents – and hopefully accentuates – your project, begins with a healthy amount of dialogue between you and your designer. It’s time to gather up all of your thinking – the what, why, how and what if’s – and arrange them into some sort of sensible explanation. We designers make use of a helpful series of questions – commonly known as the design brief – to assist you in identifying the information most relevant. It should be said that some design briefs though, are more superior to others. Being asked the right set of questions by a designer and understanding why they’ve been asked in the first place, lays the foundations for a better project outcome.

    Why write one in the first place, you may ask? Why not just have a brief phone discussion and get the ball rolling? Writing a design brief, whether you write it yourself, or have your designer write it for you, has numerous benefits. I’ve explained some of those benefits in my previous blog post.

    So, what constitutes the contents of a well-written brief?
    When working with clients in my own practice, there are the things that I really like to know about before moving towards the research and concepts phase, and I’d like to share them with you here.

    01. Who are you, really?

    Tell your designer all about yourself. And I do mean ALL. Your designer is now your new best friend. It’s crucial to work with a designer that you know in your heart of hearts you can trust. The more openly you can speak with them, the more they will understand your expectations and motivations. This leads to design that addresses your bigger goals, rather than narrowly focusing in on the smaller, mandatory details only. A well-written design brief should cover expansive knowledge of your brand. Often I find the simple mistake here can be to resist revealing all – this really shouldn’t be a time for a modest elevator pitch.

    Give a background on the history and where you’re at, present day. What do you create, provide, represent? What do you see it growing into? What are the big goals, issues to achieving these, and where does it’s strengths and weaknesses lie? What are it’s values, tone of voice, attributes? If it were a person, who would it be? Who are it’s competitors? What makes your brand unique? What problems does it solve?

    Answers to these questions add up to giving your designer a good overall sense of the big picture – often forgotten in the determination for the project’s details. Your designer is now better equipped to be able to advise you and steer you in a direction that is more tailored to fit you!

    02. Who is your audience?

    It’s unfortunate that you cannot be everything to everyone in this world. There’s no point in trying. But, there is an upside to this! You can be meaningful to a select group, one that will stay loyal to you, if you are loyal to them. Narrowing your focus and understanding as much as you can about your selective audience and catering to them specifically, will pay off in dividends. Tuning into your audience and understanding what motivates them, pleases them, frustrates them, helps immensely in formulating an informed visual direction for your designer. Speaking succinctly to your audience, in THEIR language – be that visual and verbal – is the goal here.

    What do you know about your audience, or the audience you would like to attract? Describe a typical member of your tribe: Are they predominately male? Female? Does your brand have more than one audience? Where do they live, work and play? How much do they earn? What do they spend their money on? What are the motivations behind their purchases or use of a service? Do you have any data you can share with your designer? Do you have past surveys, focus groups, Google Analytics or data from your Facebook Fan Page? And what about feedback?

    Understanding your audience will allow a designer an insightful view into communicating with them in a language that is appropriate. Creating a story that speaks to your audience in their visual language will create a sense of belonging, which in turn builds brand loyalty.

    03. How and why did your project arise?

    It may be that your brand has lost it’s way a little, a whole lot, or that you are simply in the start-up stage. It may be that you’ve discovered a gap in the market for a new product. Maybe you’ve just about finished your artistic endeavors, but you need to visually package everything together. Giving your designer an insight into the way your project came to fruition, helps them to understand the motivations and objectives behind your project. This section of a design brief really helps to define the design ‘problem’ – big, small or somewhere in between – highlighting the issues your designer needs to fully address and resolve.

    Tell your designer about your ‘problem’. Give them a summary of your project and the main reasons you are commissioning them for their creative input. How did this all arise? What are the goals you plan to achieve by undertaking the project? Is it to create further recognition? Develop your audience? An investment or financial gain? What specific design deliverables do you believe addresses your ‘problem’? And how will you measure your success?

    These factors will drive a designer to find and create an effective aesthetic and strategy that is in tune with addressing your goals.

    04. What is the key message you are giving to your audience?

    Often in communication, we tend to muddy the waters by saying too much. It is important now more than ever to simplify and pinpoint. You are competing in a sea of information, a decreasing of attention spans and the increased perceptions in lack of one’s time. You have about five seconds, more or less, to make an impression – so – make it count. What is the single, key message you wish to impress on your audience? How would you like them to respond, feel, react and/or act?

    Your designer will now be sure to focus in on illustrating this message succinctly and simply.

    05. OK! Now, for the details.

    This may come across as rather obvious! However, ensure you tell your designer what you require from them. Provide as much detail as you can. The outcome of a project is affected by it’s constraints, so it’s important to be upfront about these before a project moves to the concept stage. A thoughtful designer will be able to forewarn you of issues that may arise because of said constraints and steer you towards a direction that bests reaches a compromise.

    Give them an idea of your deadline, and any outside factors that may affect the date. How many people will be involved in the signing off process? Are there mandatory, non-negotiable factors that must be adhered to? What is your printing and/or development arrangement? Is there any text in the works that needs to be finalised and supplied? Will the scope of the project likely remain as it is?

    Keep your designer abreast of these details, and any amendments as soon as they arise, and you’ll find you’ve created a more mutually collaborative relationship.

    …..

    Gathering and sharing all the information – research, data, plans, goals, thoughts, samples, inspiration – you have at your disposal, enlightens your designer with much more knowledge to operate from. If you let them into your inner circle, by placing emphasis on partnership, rather than just relying on their technical know-how, you’ll find it will allow a designer to respond by creating a meaningful, engaging outcome. One that is much more in tune with your goals and your audience’s desires. This is the unequivocal benefit of mastering an excellently written design brief!

    If you’re wondering about the specific questions of a design brief, try searching for samples online – there are plenty out there to pick and choose from. In my own design practice, I’ve formulated a series of questions from over ten years of reading and putting them together – feel free to utilise this one if you see fit!

    Nat Carroll is NSW-based creative director, designer & illustrator with an artisan style and strategic approach, working under the moniker, the Seamstress. She carefully crafts visual communication — brands, design & illustration — for the creative, cultural, business & non profit fields.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, resource | Comments Off
    Posted on

    5 tips for landing your dream creative job

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    This Saturday CWC is heading to Sydney for our next event and the ladies at Shillington College have generously donated their space to us for the talk.

    It’s also getting to the time of year when students begin preparing their portfolios and job applications for work after their courses end. As someone who has been there I can attest to the fact that it is a daunting prospect, and any advice in that area is always appreciated!

    So I asked Thea Powell and Tanya Ruxton at Shillington what they suggest students (and indeed anyone looking for a new position or career change) do to increase their chances of landing that dream role. ”Getting that dream job can be hard.” says Thea, “and to be honest, there’s not one single thing that alone will ensure you get that job you’ve always wanted. But we do have a few tips for design graduates that’ll help get a foot in the door.”

    Here’s what Thea and Tanya recommend:

    1. Read the job description. Carefully.
    Don’t presume you know what your potential employer wants. What they really want to see is that you can follow direction. What file type are they after? How many samples of your work do they want to see? They might specify you put “Happy Green Tree-Frog” as the email subject. Who knows. Check and double check what’s required.

    2. Personalise your application.
    Your grandma might have told you a fair few times how important it is to make a good first impression. And your grandma would be right. Your application is the first thing an employer sees, and it should make an impact. Don’t hold back – remember, studios want to see your personality.

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    3. Sweat the small stuff.
    A spelling or grammar error can make or break an application. Sure, you’re not being hired to be a copywriter. But you are being hired as a designer who has excellent attention to detail.

    4. Know your portfolio inside out.
    You’ve won that prized first interview. Congratulations! Now to talk through your portfolio. Employers love seeing what you can do, but what they really want to hear is your reasoning behind each project. If it would make you feel more prepared, write down key points about each piece, and read over them the night before your interview.

    5. Be passionate.
    Show them who you are. Let’s face it – you’ll spend a lot of time with your co-workers. They’ll be looking for someone who will work well in their studio. Be friendly, be passionate – and at the risk of sounding like Oprah, be you.

    Tanya adds, “Overall, the most important thing is to never, ever give up. If you really want to work with a certain studio, keep trying. Determination pays off.”

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    Great advice, thanks ladies!

    If you’d like to chat to Tanya and Thea a bit more about folio preparation, they will be at our talk on Saturday. Or you can find out more about Shillington at their website.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, feature article, guest blog, interview, jobseeking, sydney event | Comments Off
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    Trademarks, copyrights, designs and patents… an overview part II

    Nikola Errington is back this week for part two of her legal glossary*. See part one – trademarks and copyrights – here. Thanks, Nikola!


    Designs

    A design is defined by the relevant statute as “…in relation to a product, means the overall appearance of the product resulting from one or more visual features of the product”. Visual features include the shape, configuration, pattern and ornamentation. They don’t include how the product feels, or what materials it is made of. If these distinctive elements add up to something that makes your product distinctive, you can register the design.
    It’s important to note that design registrations don’t cover how things work, and are different from inventions (which may be afforded patent protection, discussed below). For example, Bodum has various design registrations for their kitchen appliances. They didn’t invent the teapot, but they do have design protection for their design of the teapot.

    Patents

    Okay, this is probably the most complicated of these terms, but basically, this will relate to a legal protection for a new invention (including devices, substances, methods or processes), that have a use. Generally, artistic works are not covered by patents. It is important to note that if you tell lots of people about your invention, without imposing a confidentiality agreement, before filing a patent application then you will risk not being able to register since it will form part of the public domain.
    However, it is also worth noting that once you do file for an application, you have to fully disclose how it works, what it is made of, how it was made etc. Patents are COMPLICATED. Definitely go and see a professional if you think you have an amazing invention that could make you millions, and keep it hush-hush!
    For more information on trademarks, copyrights, patents and designs
    IP Australia has a wealth of information on their website for further clarification on some of these terms. There are also Arts Law Centers in most major cities in Australia that may be able to give some free advice. There is also the Institute of Patent and Trademark Attorneys of Australia, that can hook you up with a professional should you need it.*Note that this is simply an explanation of a few key terms and should not be substituted for professional legal advice.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: guest blog | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Trademarks, copyrights, designs and patents… an overview

    Today I’m excited to introduce a dear friend and super-smart law lady Nikola Errington to the guest blog. This week and next, Nikola is going to define for us in basic words some key legal terms that pertain to products and creative ideas. Take it away, Nikola!

    Hi everyone – Tess has asked me to write a few words about some pertinent Intellectual Property terms that might pop up in the lives of those who mix in creative women’s circles. I’ll cover a few basics regarding trademarks, copyright, designs and patents, the major tenants of Intellectual Property law*.

    Trademarks

    Trademarks are distinctive words or symbols used to distinguish between goods and services. For example, “Frankie” on magazine publishing, or “Gorman” on clothing . 
    This is as opposed to a trademark that is not distinctive, for example, if I name my new batch of home-made radios, “Radios”. No good. 
    The theory behind trademark protection is essentially that consumers deserve not to be confused, so when given the choice between two radios, they should be able to identify the maker by use of a distinctive word or symbol. Australia has a trademark registration system, administered through IP Australia
    It is not compulsory for you to register your trademarks, but it is a good idea. If you are successful at registering your trademark, it means that you have an exclusive right to use it. It means that no-one else can, and it also means that it has been determined that no-one registered it before you. 
    With this in mind, it is really important that before you start using a trademark ie. whacking it on your new fashion line or opening a new shop, you should check out what trademarks are already registered. You can do this through IP Australia’s database search.

    Copyright

    This is a legal protection for the expression of ideas. I want to emphasise that it is a protection for the expression of an idea, not your idea. 
    For example, I had an idea that I would write a book about a girl who kicked a hornet’s nest when I was twelve years old, but I did not write said book. I therefore have no claim that my copyright was breached following the publication of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, (unfortunately). 
    Copyright protection is afforded to paintings, drawings, books or something that could be defined as a “works of art or literature”, music, films, sound recording, broadcasts and computer programs. 
    Copyright is not registered like trademarks, designs or patents, rather it is a right that arises as soon as it comes into existence ie. the comic is drawn, or the film script is typed up. If I had written my idea down for the girl and hornet’s nest story down in 1993, maybe I would be in a different position right now…
    Next week, I’ll define the terms Design and Patent. See you back here next Monday!

    *Note that this is simply an explanation of a few key terms and should not be substituted for professional legal advice

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: guest blog | Comments Off