Even if you are entrusting your design requirements to a third party, the work they produce will only be as good as the brief you give to them.
It is worth taking time to think very carefully about your needs before briefing an agency – it will save you time and money in the long run.
First of all, what do you actually need?
It may be a simple job, such as developing a logo for business cards, compliment slips and letterheads. On the other hand, perhaps you need a brochure or newsletter as well.
It is often more time and cost-effective to brief several projects at the same time. By the same token, if you are certain of your requirements, do not allow yourself to be talked into producing literature you do not need.
How much do you need?
In terms of quantities, it is far more economical to produce a greater number at the outset rather than having to re-print. In the case of letterhead and compliments slips especially, it is worth buying significant quantities, as long as you are sure that your address or telephone number will not be changing.
It pays to be more prudent with business cards. Be sure to ask you agency or printer to supply costs for different print runs – you may be surprised at how small the difference is between printing say 5,000 and 10,000 sheets of letterhead.
What size do you need?
As far as the issue of sizes goes, it is usually worth sticking to standard 'A' sizes, e.g. A4 for letterhead, ?A4 (DL) for compliment slips and so on. This will keep print costs down and avoid the need for bespoke envelopes, as well as ensuring that the letterhead fits in a standard printer.
Business cards tend to be cut from a standard 'A' size, although we are seeing a trend towards folded or die-cut cards. Be wary of cutting and folding, which will increase your printing costs. Also, make sure that any costs quoted include packaging of the paper into boxes and delivery to your premises.
What colours do you want?
When selecting logo colours, often a single spot colour is chosen along with black. This will require a two colour print process, rather than the usual four colour process which is required for printing in full colour, for a brochure comprising photographs, for example. Some spot colours can be recreated using the four-colour process (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), which will keep print costs down if the logo is to be incorporated into a full colour job at a later stage.
However, certain colours can not be reproduced in four-colour process, for example, gold, silver and bronze; neon colours and bright colours such as lime green or orange, which may appear muddy. Pantone books are available for matching special spot colours to their four-colour process breakdown.
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