Design Briefs for Dummies

dummytumble weedYou've been asked to organise production of a display stand for a pending event that's been overlooked for a few months, then someone panicked because the show date is looming and parked it on your desk. You ask if the artwork is ready to send - but are greeted by silence and the vision of tumble weed spinning by.


designerYou are not a designer but have an inkling that electronic artwork is normally required by printers. There is hope for you and you are already ahead of the client who once left us wide-eyed by sending in an A3 piece of paper, lovingly coloured with felt-tip pens, as print-ready electronic artwork. The problem is you haven't got any, but you do kinda know what information needs to be shown.

sketchWe recognise this as the starting point of a plan and it endears you to us! We love having a concise design brief - it makes life so much easier. A sketch layout, be it in a document or a biro doodle, is ideal. We're not after a work of art, just something that shows the content of the design. It allows us to calculate the amount of artworking time required and to confirm the artwork charge.

feralDo note that designers turn feral when, having slaved over a layout, they hear "can you move the picture here, no here - actually let's go back to the previous design and what we started with." On Mondays we placate them with cups of coffee but by Fridays greater caution is required - if they perceive that we have given them an inadequate design brief they take pack formation and hunt us down!

darwinThe building is not large enough to escape and inspired by Darwin's theory we've developed survival strategies. Our chief one is to emphasis to the client that if the design brief changes then the artwork charge may increase; why spend money unnecessarily? Also a detailed design brief helps us provide the client with a design that will more closely meet their requirements.

Website links and copies of existing literature that you are pleased with also help - we can theme the new graphics along the same lines.

formatThe next stage is to ensure that the artwork elements are provided in the correct format. It was a temptation to scan the A3 piece of paper and blow it up to 3m x 4m and in artistic contemplation say "yes, the child-like quality brings out the inner essential value of the object" - but we resisted. With a few gentle pointers we coaxed out the necessary artwork elements.

The following notes will provide you with a good starting point.

Your Branding Guidelines

brandingShare them with us! Lots of information is contained in the holy grail named the branding guidelines; pantone references, fonts, etc. You may not be aware that your organisation has a branding guardian complete with pitchfork and swishy tail, but produce the 6m wide x 2.5m high display in the wrong colours and you will.

Pantone References

pantoneThis is not a brand of shampoo: a printed colour is specified exactly by its Pantone reference. Larger organisations usually have corporate colours to be matched, for example for logos, fonts or background colours.


fontsIf it is a common font we'll have it. If it is unusual the font will need to be supplied to us in Mac format. As per Pantone references, check to see if your company has branding guidelines that specify which fonts are to be used.


logosSupply all logos as 'Illustrator EPS' files. No copying and pasting from a website to save time - it’s too low a resolution to use, unless you always wondered how your company logo would appear if created in Lego.


images"My tattoo has more dots in it than that" (quote from our designer). Supply images electronically as Photoshop TIFF files. By providing a sketch layout we can see the area the image is meant to cover and advise you of the correct file sizes. If you only have JPEG, don't bother converting them to TIFF, but TIFF originals will yield better results.

ftp filesLiaise with us before sending the images to ensure that the files are of sufficient size. If they are too low a resolution they will be fit only for creating a small mock Roman mosaic, not professional-looking crisp print intended for an exhibition stand.

The rough rule of thumb is a 30MB file per metre square of print or a minimum of 300dpi at 1/4 size. If you send us a 1.2MB file to completely cover a 1m x 2m panel you know you're about to do something wrong - so don't!

proofOnce the order is confirmed, Redcliffe will start work on the proofs. PDF proofs are emailed for approval. Nothing is printed until sign-off is received. Typically the proofs are signed-off and approved within two to three drafts.

There is then only one more task that you are required to fulfill: to provide the goods with a loving home!

For more information or advice on designing your display stand please call:

Slice StudioAlternatively try an independent design company like Slice Studio - The whole package or just a slice… websites | design | print

Don’t know where to start with design, or where to get things printed? They’d love to help you, your business, club or group – drop them an email, or pick up the phone for a fresh approach without the jargon.