How understanding the creative process can save you money


When it comes to designing something for a client, probably the most common thing we hear in terms of a ‘design brief’ is oh you’re the creative one, just do something that looks nice. And while being given carte blanche to do whatever we want might sound like a designer’s dream, it actually makes things really tricky. The design process is more than just trying to make a piece look nice.

We’re also trying to:

  1. Make sure it does its job (ie gets someone to call, or visit a website, or … whatever) and
  2. Make the project cost effective.

For example, it’s just not practical or appropriate for a client to pay for 10 hours of our time to design a double sided DL flyer for a one-off campaign they’re going to print 500 of. There’s just no way they’re going to get a return on that investment. But that’s how long it would take for us to design the piece if we had no brief. Why?

Well here’s some of what goes into the creative process:

  1. Ok, blank piece of paper, where do we start?
  2. Best place to start is with the content – how much text and imagery do we need to fit onto this piece of paper? What are the other essentials – things like client logo, website etc?
  3. What’s the message we’re trying to convey here? And what action does the client want the target market for this piece to take? And now that you mention target market – who IS the target market for the piece.
  4. Right, now we know what the message and the action required is, let’s go back to imagery. Has the client provided us with any imagery? Are the images good enough to build a beautiful design around? Or do we need to source better imagery?

See those four steps above? If the client provides us with nothing and we have to pull it all together ourselves, that’s hours of work right there in:

  • determining message,
  • determining target market,
  • determining the required action for the piece,
  • writing copy, and
  • sourcing content and imagery.

We haven’t even started designing the piece yet!

This is why we provide clients with briefing forms before starting any design job. We’re not trying to make their lives hard – we’re trying to save them money. We can do everything involved in the creative process (conceptualising, researching, writing, sourcing of imagery etc), but ultimately, we’re really great designers! If you’ve got a four hour budget for a job, wouldn’t you rather we spend that entire four hours designing?  

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