If you’ve ever asked one of the more creative members of your school community to help you bring your yearbook cover idea to life, you’ve probably been there: a bunch of back-and-forth emails and an end result that, while pretty awesome, isn’t quite what you pictured at the start.
There’s a way to avoid all of that. And it’s called a creative brief.
A creative brief pulls together everything a designer needs to know, like how big the cover design should be, what you want it to look like, and how much time they have to turn your idea into a reality. A creative brief answers so many questions up front, that it basically eliminates those back-and-forth emails and any possibility of crossed signals.
Your designer might ask you for one, but you should give them one even if they don’t. In fact, a creative brief is so handy you should create one even if you’re designing the yearbook cover yourself.
What to Include in Your Yearbook Cover Creative Brief
A good creative brief is the design equivalent of a football huddle. And you’re the quarterback.
Your play-calling here comes in two parts: what you want your yearbook cover to look like, and what your designer needs to know to make that happen.
The first part can be relatively easy, but making sure a designer has all the information he or she needs can be tough. So, before you start, always ask them what they’re going to need.
Every designer is a little bit different, but each is sure to ask you about your idea for the yearbook cover, your yearbook theme, and any style guide you might have. Also, in order to get the job done, they’ll want to know the size of the cover, how the final design needs to be delivered, and when it’s due.
You can see how these simple necessities begin to add up.
To save your designer’s sanity—and your yearbook cover idea—here’s what you need to include in your creative brief:
- Theme & Background Information: Give your artist a quick explanation of your yearbook. Be sure to emphasize your theme and how you landed on the idea in the first place. Explain how the theme connects with the school and its students.
- Style Guidelines: Include your style tile embedded within the brief. Give specific instructions to either follow the style tile guidelines or to simply use it as an FYI about what the interior of the yearbook will look like. You may also include a sample spread or two.
- Mandatory Elements: In this section, you will plainly list out the items that must be included on the cover. This can include the school’s name, the title of the yearbook, and the year. Be as specific as possible. (Should the year be displayed as “2016,” “2015-2016,” or “15-16?” Is it “Thomas Jefferson” or “Thomas Jefferson Area High School?”)
- Inspiration: If you or your committee has created a swipe file, this is a great place to share some of that inspiration. You could also just snag a collection of covers that you like from Pinterest. The point here is to give your artist a general idea of your taste and which designs you are drawn to.
- Technical Specs: This is where you share any technical information that you or your publisher can provide. You can include things like the size (in inches and pixels), required dpi for digital work, and whether to use PMS or CMYK colors. You should also include a layout recommendation that includes the front cover, spine, and back cover, showing where the cover may wrap or indent. The final thing to include in this section is what the preferred format is for the final design. Will a PDF do? Or would you rather have an InDesign file
- General Project Information: This very important section sets the expectations for the project flow. Here you will include any deadlines, approval information, and who the artist should contact with questions. Do you expect to see a few options before they embark on the final product? Will you set up a few quick meetings to check in on the progress? How many rounds of edits should they expect? You can answer all these questions with a simple list of important milestones and dates.
- Thank You: Include a note at the bottom to show how much you appreciate that they are willing to share their creative gifts with your yearbook committee. Their enthusiastic participation can make this one of the best yearbooks ever.
Creative Briefs Make Yearbook Design Easy
You can see how translating a complicated idea becomes a whole lot easier by using a creative brief. The document is extremely helpful for both you and your artist. Your artist will essentially be receiving a crash course about your yearbook. (And believe us, they will appreciate this extra effort more than you can imagine.) You, in turn, will receive a stunning yearbook cover that is closely aligned with what you envisioned. At the end of the day, a creative brief is a big win for everyone involved.