Commissioning design?

Design’s one of those commodities that isn’t an everyday need for most. So for a lot of the business community the process of commissioning design will be a little alien or at least a challenge. We hope that with this post we’ll be able to help all those that find themselves in this ‘alien’ predicament.

So how on earth do you go about starting, managing and delivering a design project, any design project? Apart from speaking to us here at Puur, there are a number of things that make sense to organise before the project starts.

The first may be a luxury to smaller companies, but it makes sense to identify someone within the company to take on the role of design management; a person who is ultimately responsible for the project, to manage and own the process. This should be part of their role (not just an addition to the day job). Companies that have a number of people commissioning design at the same time can end up looking less than ‘consistent’. And companies that have no one taking on this role often take delivery of a lesser product.

understand why you’re actually undertaking the design project at all

The next thing to understand why you’re actually undertaking the design project at all? What do you want to achieve with the project and how will you measure it’s success? These are simple questions, but sometimes strangely overlooked. When you get the answers together you’ll have the start of a brief (see our post on creating a brief). Depending on the scale of the project it can include information such as: The background to the project, any research you may have, objectives, audience, approval process, budget and any constraints (including current brand guidelines etc). When creating the brief try to look at the need rather than coming up with what you see the solution.

Having chosen your internal team and created your brief, now’s time to choose a design partner.

The ideal partner is a company that is a balance between creative excellence, business reality and industry experience. Seek word of mouth recommendations from people you trust and from people you know have experience in buying design. Use this and the fount of all knowledge; Google to build a list of possible partners. Three agencies should be sufficient for most projects (you may only end up seeing work from one).

If it’s a small project you may just require a face to face meeting and a proposal. If it’s a large multifaceted challenge, you may ask for a credentials presentation (a presentation that outlines an organisations experience and culture – usually including case studies), this should help you make your decision.

Any proposal you get should include:

  • a response to or a reiteration of your initial brief (not necessarily graphic).
  • a scope of the work to be undertaken (broken down into stages)
  • the terms and conditions of the agency
  • a clear breakdown of costs and fees (a detailed breakdown is only possible for a full and complete scope of works)

Once you have these responses your decision on which agency to go with can be made. You could use the following criteria to help inform this decision:

how well has the agency understood your brief?
what experience has the agency got in doing this type of work?
is there a ‘chemistry’ between your team and the agency ( will they work well together) ?
your assessment on how well the agency will deliver in terms of timing and budgets.

Remember, when you do appoint an agency fees are what the agency will charge you (usually based on how long the project will take), agency costs are additional (and are either estimated or not scoped at all). Costs can be anything from photography and illustration to copywriting, printing and implementation. They are the costs that would normally be outside of the agency.

Take all this, talk to trusted friends and colleagues and choose your agency…

The last thing to remember is that once the project starts, the clock starts ticking. If the brief changes, then budgets may change as well. This is where a strong brief can really help and where a good project team will be invaluable. Design is a wonderful thing (says the designer). Done well, it can positively effect a company’s future. It can be memorable, create difference, help you realise your goals and deliver real ROI. Not great design won’t do half of this.

How can we help in all this?

Puur relishes the opportunity to help a business thrive; it’s what we do. All our work is developed with the end audience and objectives in mind. Our work isn’t just pretty pictures, our work solves a challenge set by you. give us a call today for a chat about how we can help.

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