Hopes are high at the beginning of projects. You’re motivated and optimistic, sentiments you’ll need more than air when challenges bubble up (or worse, bubble over.) So why not stay clear of confusion by using a cheat sheet?

I use these questions to create accurate quotes and project briefs. And regardless of the designer you choose, these questions will keep you laser focused. Here are some things you should chew on, savor and digest now:
 

1. Your deliverables: What do you need?

This may seem like an obvious one, but it isn’t uncommon to have a hard time committing to a finished product. You might be unsure about investing in a logo alone vs. a package with identity elements like a basic site, business cards, social media and/or motion graphics.
 

2. Your vision: Why are you doing this?

I’m a firm believer that vision should drive design projects. It makes for a better story, better connection and eventually a better brand. Your vision usually involves sentiments like, “I am launching (insert business/project/initiative here) because I (insert your mission, expressing the benefits, value and why this matters to your audience).
 

3. Your goals: What will you use it achieve?

If it’s a new brand identity, will it debut your business and grow your fan base? Or maybe it’s meant to raise awareness for your social cause and boost participation. Design projects deliver the best results when they are connected to a goal. Decide what that is now so that you have something to aim for.

 

Create an ideal client now and I promise you’ll thank yourself later. What do they do for fun? How do they view the world?

 

 

4. Your audience: Who is in your target market?

Once you’ve decided what your goals are, you need to decide who it’s for. You should know exactly who you’re talking to. Try to get as specific as possible. Include information on primary and/or secondary audiences. What do they do for fun? Are there any gender, age or life-cycle considerations? Gather and try to interpret data about their buying habits. Create an ideal customer/client now and I promise you’ll thank yourself later. What do they do for fun? How do they view the world?
 

5. Your competition: Who are you up against?

Standing out from the competition doesn’t always mean you have to be the loudest. Take the time to understand your competition. Study what they offer and what they lack. And don’t overlook any of the unique differences. You may find an advantage for yourself in the smallest detail.
 

6. Your tone: How should your project feel?

In 3 words or less, describe how you want people to feel once they’ve seen the marketing piece or the new logo. Should it feel elegant? Laid-back? Modern? This decision will help the designer make (or avoid) certain styles choices.

 

If you value your brand, $5 logos, with the promise of a 24-hour turnaround are off the table.

 

 

7. Your budget: What is it worth?

Budget is one part of a project that can easily turn into a whirlwind. The client comes to the table, honestly unaware of how much their needs may. And when the designer returns the quote, they struggle to keep from fainting.

The two biggest things to consider when crafting a budget: worth and expectations. When you believe in the value and potential of your business, the cost of a professional brand identity is worth a lot. If you value your brand, $5 logos, with the promise of a 24-hour turnaround are off the table. No exceptions. But if you find out your budget won’t get you the bells & whistles project with a tight deadline, then adjust your expectations so you and the designer can sleep at night.
 

8. Your deadline: When do you need it?

Here’s the other part of a project that can turn it on its head: deadlines. My advice? Come to the table with some flexibility so that both you and the designer can work backward from your ideal date, creating a project timeline that allows for edits, revisions and launch. Whenever you can, avoid rushing a project.
 

9. Your decision makers: Who has the final say?

If you aren’t working alone, decide now who will make the final decisions. The last thing you want is to have a project on hold because the team can’t agree on the color of a headline.

Thinking about these things will save everyone time and effort. And most importantly, it dramatically increases the chance of kicking off a successful project you’ll be proud of.

 

 

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