The 2 Critical Things You Need To Include When You Brief A Designer To Build Your Brand

Are you looking to do your logo, website or brand at the moment? 

These are the three words you might be focusing on when you're briefing a designer to help you. 

I need a logo, then I need a website.  And these are the foundations of my brand.

But this is a surefire way to lead to disappointment and frustration with what you get back. 

Partly, success with any brief is down to the skill of the designer, so, firstly, make sure you’re buying from someone who has a lot of references, who can show you a lot of their work, and who can show variety in their work.

You want them to be able to reflect YOU - not impose their style on you.

But the other two significant success factors in briefing a designer and managing the design process are :

  1. Making sure you tell them the right things about you.
  2. Making sure you ask for the right things.

How to Brief a Designer #1: Tell them the right things about you

We just need to rewind a bit.  Everything you are doing is about building a brand. So, first, you have to understand what a brand is. 

All brands really are, are associations in people’s minds.  And the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a person is to choose and buy your brand.  

So, the first thing you need to decide is, what associations do you want to build? What is it that you want to stand for?

This is called doing your brand strategy.

Your brand strategy is your decision on what you want to stand for: the associations you want to build in people’s minds.  Everything you do, say, design, write, needs to connect to this.

You create your brand strategy by answering 4 questions:

  • WHY you exist
  • WHO you are
  • HOW you do things, and HOW you look, feel and sound
  • WHAT you do

It is critical to get these answers in place before you do your ‘branding’ so you have something to judge things, like your logo, against.

It doesn’t matter what you call these things in your brand strategy. For instance, most people call their WHY, their purpose. HOW you look and feel is often called your Brand Personality.  What is critical is that you answer all of these questions, and you answer them in the right way.  Here’s a free mini video course on this so you can get this bit right first.

You also need to understand what ‘Branding’ is.

Branding is the process of creating signals that help to reinforce the associations you want to build in your customers’ minds. 

These signals can be visual: your logo, colour palette, imagery, packaging, shapes and patterns, fonts.

They can be verbal: your name and nomenclature, your tone of voice, your brandline, the language that you use.

They can also be sounds – like T Mobile’s or Intel’s chimes.  
Or smells – like the bespoke fragrances luxury hotels create for their lobbies. 

They can even be people or characters – liked Jared Fogle was for Subway, or George Clooney is for Nespresso, or the Compare The Market Meerkats.  

But creating visual and verbal signals are where most brands start.  

All together these signals are often called your ‘Brand Identity’ (and separately, your Visual Identity, Verbal Identity, Sonic Identity etc). 

When you brief a designer, you should be briefing them to create your Visual Identity NOT JUST A LOGO.

If all you get is a logo, then how do you create your whole website?  How do you create a connected look and feel on Instagram?  You need more than a logo.

How to Brief a Designer #2: Ask them for the right things

Here are things you need to tell your designer:

  • Your company name
  • Your brand strategy
    (Spend time particularly on identifying HOW you want to look and feel. Find 4-5 attributes you want your Visual Identity to communicate).
  • Your timings

And here are things you should ask for:


  • A logo
  • 2 fonts – try and stick with just two that complement each other. For instance, one serif font and one sans serif
  • A colour palette (with primary and secondary colours – i.e. a couple you use for the majority of your things, and a few more than complement these ones)
  • A graphic device or pattern(s)
    Now, these are not compulsory (the biggest brands in the world all have this level of detail, but it may turn out too costly if you are starting on your own), but you may want to ask for something like this to give you flexibility in how you create content. For instance, I use circles in different way. It just gives me more options when I am creating my content but still helps it feel like the same brand.
  • A set of images/an imagery style
    Again – not compulsory  - but if you have the budget for them to give you a handful of images – or at least some guidance in the sort of images they think support your brand strategy and visual identity, then that will really help you create your website and content more quickly.  It will also look more connected and professional.  Ensure these images are royalty free or you’ll just end up falling in love with a couple then having to pay more for them!

Other important things you should ask your designer for 

  1. More than one option.
    Ask for 2-3 Visual Identity options if budget allows. (Options that show ideas for all of the things above and how they work together – 2-3 Visual Identity options, not just 2-3 logos!)
  2. Most importantly: a conversation.
    Good designers are highly creative, ideas people, not just talented users of Photoshop! 

    Ask them for at least one Zoom call where they explain the options to you. They should be able to explain how each option reflects your brand strategy – WHY they have suggested what they have suggested.  This can really help you come around to one or other option that perhaps you rejected when you first saw it.  (I know you like the colour purple – but perhaps that colour is not reflective of what you want your brand to stand for…)
    Use your brand strategy as the criteria to help you judge what you get back – it will get you to a much better solution, much more quickly and objectively.

The other thing I’d suggest you get done, if you haven’t already, is a photoshoot.  At least a few headshots, or go further with a branding shoot which has more shots of you and more images you could use to represent your brand.

But remember to start with strategy – it makes everything else SO much easier.  

And the best place to start with strategy? My free video mini course, of course.




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