Design in the built environment
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Design blog about the built environment

Agency deliverables not meeting client expectations?

Surprisingly it’s not always successfully done on both client and agency side.

There are three common types of briefing:

  • To request a quote
  • For creative direction
  • For production.

We’re all busy and need to get work done and ticked off the list, but if briefing is not done with thought, it causes many problems down the road, which include:

  • Pricing not correctly quoted with the result losing a potential job or budget blow out
  • Important milestones missed
  • Client expectations not met
  • Wrong document format and work has to be redone at client’s costs
  • Delayed projects
  • Wasted opportunity
  • Frustration for both client and agency.

So who is responsible for good briefing - the client or agency? It is the client’s role to brief an agency on what they need, why, budget, timelines, expectations and deliverables.

It’s an agency’s job to ask as many questions to help form a return brief in response to the client’s brief for approval. Once the client signs off the brief, the accountability is with them. Then it’s over to the agency to deliver the goods.


The main items to keep in mind to help your designer are:

Budget - Please be upfront as we can work towards a budget. We supply a price and welcome the opportunity to be able to revise that if the initial cost is queried.

Timeline - Establish start and delivery dates with key design and artwork milestones. Please consult with your designer on printing and production before agreeing to stakeholders timing as this is where issues arise. Having to rush through unproofed jobs to the printer and mistakes being found once delivered.

Content - When briefing agencies, please supply draft content. We can then see how many pages or large, complicated (or simple) the project is. Include how many diagrams, infographics, icons, maps or illustrations are required. These can take a lot of time. Please supply examples of previous or similar documents as references if content isn’t available so we know what a client expects. Be aware though that an agency may need to re quote as there is more content or it’s more complicated than the example provided.

Proofing - Allow time for both the agency and yourself to proof. We always get our printers to supply a print proof for client sign-off. The content is the responsibility of the client, not the designer.

To help guide our clients we have a range of documents we use for projects of various sizes and types.  Please let us know if you’d like us to add anything to briefs as we value client input.

  • Brand/Identity Brief
  • Video/animation Brief
  • Website Brief
  • Brochure Brief
  • Environmental/Signage Brief

We get asked what elements increases costs. Some examples are below.

Infographics - These are a combination of icons and type and tell a story. This requires thought on flow, scale of elements and legibility whether for print or digital.

Maps - These are supplied as GIS source files which when supplied, the line work isn’t joined, there is complex information supplied as 1 layer and needs to be separated out into 10+ layers. These are then styled into the client’s brand style.

Images - A lot of time can be spent sourcing images. In our experience it’s better the client does this as generally people can’t articulate their vision. How you can help is to find some example images and give the agency the keywords used to find them. This is a good starting point.


How do we price?

I asked an artist recently on how long it took him to paint a picture and his response was 30 years! This was such a fantastic response and made total sense.

Clients often question cost and they don’t realise we’re quoting based on years of acquired experience, learnings, successes, process and keeping up with technology changes (by the way which used to be on a 2-3 year cycle, this now has been reduced to 6 months).

Because of technology, it’s allowing clients to make changes last minute. When this happens, more staff are involved to deliver the urgent changes and jobs get messy.

If urgent jobs are required and the objective is about meeting tight deadlines, these are the items (and opportunities) that get missed in the delivery:

  • Proofing/QA
  • Refining/improving design
  • Delivering all objectives
  • Communicating messages clearly.

Need some more help on briefing or want to have a friendly chat? Give us a call on 02 9331 4258 or send us an email to