Print briefs can be a blessing and a curse. When well written they are an easy map to follow, giving clear instructions to the printers of exactly what the customer wants and when they want it. When poorly written, however, they can bring about confusion, frustration and, inevitably, production delays. We have a few tips and tricks for getting the most of our a print brief to save time and keep your clients (and prospective clients) happy.

How to make sense of it all

The source of all issues with print briefs is a lack of information from the end user. Getting a proper spec isn’t always easy but there are several important elements you need to get nailed so everyone is on the same page:

  • Material – even if its the brand name of the material then it can be easily traced back
  • Sizes – all three dimensions if needed!
  • Quantity – this can always be a bit pie-in-the-sky but at the very least it should be a starting point
  • Branding requirements – whether each unit has a different artwork, it requires specific pantones etc
  • Deadline
  • Detailed description – or if possible a picture speaks a thousand words!

Once you have these elements in place it should be a lot easier to have a clear image of what the customer actually wants. Then you can get down to the nitty gritty details of sending out quote requests and marking it all up. The quote is as important as the initial brief because it will contain specific information that you want to have readily accessible later on down the line when it comes to processing the order.

Budget

A budget can save an incredible amount of time and resource for everyone involved, but unfortunately it isn’t always possible to get one. Some customers can be reticent to give a budget as they can get scared that they will be over-charged to reach the budget. From a quoting point of view, however, it can make life much easier because a brief won’t always indicate quality, whereas the budget will do. For example, there is a substantial difference between a mosquito pull up banner and a barracuda pull up banner – although we can easily explain the key selling points of the barracuda, the price differential is the best indicator of the quality difference. Then when you move onto more bespoke items created from scratch the budget will help point you in the direction of the most suitable raw materials and print processes to use.

Samples / Visuals

Samples aren’t always viable, but if it’s possible to create one it is always worthwhile. It gives the end user a specific idea of what is going to be delivered, and can avoid a serious headache later on down the line. When this isn’t viable – such as short runs or incredibly bespoke items – the next best step is to create a visual. There will always be the debate of creating a visual before sign off: there is the risk you’ll spend valuable time working on something that you could potentially not get paid for, but it depends whether you have the resource to do that at your agency.

How we distill a brief

We learnt a long time ago that a brief isn’t always set in stone and, with most clients, it can be treated as a guide to the end result, rather than a manual. Once we’ve got an idea of what the customer needs we have a couple of different routes to go down: branding an off-the-shelf hardware item, or creating something from scratch.

We have a huge network of hardware suppliers so chances are we can take the brief and find a cost effective item to brand. The advantage to this is obviously cost as there aren’t typically set up charges involved, and it can will also dramatically reduce the lead time.  Alternatively, we can either work out a way to manufacture the finished item using our own materials and our CNC cutter, or we can partner up with a fabricators to create something we can brand that is much closer to the original brief. Either way we always recommend getting in touch with our sales team to chat about the brief so we can work out magic on it.

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