If you read last weeks post, you should be all clear on what to look out for in a designer you are hiring. The next step to make the most of the designer's talent and to save you time, is to effectively brief the designer. This post and free brief sheet are written from a fashion design perspective, but many of the points also relate to other creative services.
What is a brief? A brief essentially outlines your expectations for the project. It contains definitive information, such as the due date and number of designs required, but it can also include inspiration and a general 'feel' for the collection.
1. Make your expectations clear
This would include those 'black and white' details such as the number of designs required (and any specific breakdown, e.g. 5 tops, 2 skirts, 3 dresses, etc) and the due date. You could also use this to outline your preferred way of working, for example, some people would rather go from brief to viewing the final range, whereas others would prefer a more collaborative approach. If you have a preference, include this on the brief. In addition, mention if you would like to input your own ideas, for instance if you have images for reference, let the designer know.
2. Define your customer
In the last post I touched on the importance of knowing your customer and how it is one of the main deciding factors between success or failure. For the designer to do a good job and create designs that will sell, they need to know about your customer. The more detail the better. A simple, 'they like fashion and are aged 20-80' (that's an exact copy of a brief I received once from a client), won't cut it. If you really want to only give the bare minimum at least give some information on your customers lifestyle, shopping preferences and brands they aspire to.
3. Define your brand aesthetic
What is it that makes your brand unique, why do customers come to you? What is it that you're known (or want to be known) for? What kind of mood/feeling do you want to evoke in your customers? Simply stating 'design something relevant to the seasons trends', isn't specific enough. Every season I look at hundreds, if not thousands of pages of trend information, fashion shows and developments in popular culture and there's so many different directions you can take the trends in. As an example, WGSN, the world leaders in trend forecasting usually have 4-5 trends per market per season and the designer will need to establish which is most relevant for your brand.
4. do's and don'ts
This refers to things that you would or wouldn't like to see in the range. For example, you might know that short dresses really don't sell for you, so the length should be longer, or you know that jewel tones work really well, so make sure they are included in the range. Essentially - include information about any styling details you really want to see, or don't want.
5. Know your retail prices
You might be thinking, 'why does the price matter at the design stage, I'll just pick the best design, see what the price is and that will determine my cost price' - please don't do this! You need to have an idea of how much your customer is willing to pay and therefore how much you can afford to pay at cost price. Why? Because if you don't give any indication, the designer will add lots of details to create a really unique piece. However, if you're looking to channel somewhere like Primark and charge £2 ($2.50US) for a t-shirt, chances are you're not going to be able to afford all of those beautiful, expensive, details.
To help you brief your designer, I've put together an easy 2 page template for my subscribers, which can be found in the free resource library. The template is editable, so you can delete the prompts and make your own notes to send to your designer. If you're new to the site, you can easily get free access to this file by entering your email address and signing up to the mailing list below, you'll then receive the password to my constantly growing library of free resources to help you with your business. You'll also receive industry news and business tips once or twice a month.
If you're panicking about the above thinking 'I didn't realise I needed all that before I started designing', don't worry! Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing more insight to help you identify your customer, brand and help you to create a solid plan. If you can't wait to get started, or if you feel you need tailored 1-on-1 help, I do offer consulting sessions which you can learn about here.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a message in the comments box below. If there's anything you'd like to see in future posts, just let me know...