Design Briefs – How to Balance Creative Freedom and Instruction

Odds are that when you hire a Melbourne graphic designer, you are doing so because you need the creativity and expertise he or she has to offer in the design field. It is likely that you may fall into one of two categories while working with your chosen designer: either giving rigid, highly detailed instructions for the project or simply turning over the project with the idea that your graphic designer will figure out what is right for the project. Which approach is better? Is it best to allow unlimited creative freedom or to lay out guidelines for every single step of the project? Let’s start by taking a look at the potential drawbacks of each approach.

Although the freedom to explore new trends and ideas and to be creative without limitations is one of the things that draw people to the field of graphic design, it can be detrimental if left unchecked. Unlimited creative freedom can become excessively time consuming to the graphic designer because he or she will likely come up with too many concepts to explore and will take many winding paths in the quest for perfection. This overabundance of concepts to explore and choices to consider can destroy chances of meeting an important deadline. It can also lead to a loss of focus and confusion as one good idea is replaced with another until there are so many great options that the original goal is lost. Often, too much freedom for the graphic designer can also cause time to be wasted on regret over the choices he or she has made throughout the project. Time spent thinking “if only I had chosen…” will not only waste time but will also cause the designer to feel frustrated. With no guidelines to follow at all, the very creative talent that you are looking for can be the downfall of the project.

While unlimited freedom can be harmful to your graphic design project, too much instruction can be just as bad in different ways. You chose to work with a Melbourne graphic design firm in order to get a unique, creative project that can help your business. Limiting the project with highly detailed instructions bounds the creativity that you were seeking and prevents your graphic designer from coming up with fresh, cutting edge ideas that will make your company stand out from your competition. The project will become boring and dull for both you and your designer and neither of you will be satisfied with the end result. Being too detailed in your project instructions effectively kills the possibility of introducing new ideas and trends into your project and will prevent any growth of your brand.

So which approach is better – freedom or instruction? They both have their benefits and drawbacks so the best approach is a harmonious balance between the two. To get the best possible results, communicate your needs clearly to your designer then allow him or her to meet those needs with creativity and originality. How much freedom do you think you should allow your graphic designer when working on a project for your company?

Design Briefs - How to Balance Creative Freedom and Instruction
Article Name
Design Briefs - How to Balance Creative Freedom and Instruction
Odds are when you hire a Melbourne graphic designer, you are doing so because you need the creativity and expertise he or she has to offer in the design field.


  1. This is an interesting and contentious area of discussion for me, also, as a Copywriter. Bounding the artistic freedom too tightly can result in written content that is dull, boring, and certainly not gripping for the reader. Usually a client knows what they want to say, but they just can’t put it into words. Fortunately, when they first make contact with me, my clients have already hit a road block in trying to do it themselves, or have sourced content from overseas, and they have found the results to be lack-lustre – or grammatically incorrect, and full of weird phrases that don’t actually ring true.

    I agree that there needs to be a balance between being given directives, and having the door kept open so that new ideas are able to be presented, all the while keeping to the brief. What invariably happens, as well, is that a client will shift their thinking throughout the communication and drafting process. This can blow-out costs a little (in the first project), but the results are more often than not much better than they ever anticipated, because they have been able to access the professionalism of an objective writer who looks at their business offering with fresh eyes.

    Business owners are usually too close to what they do. Hence, engaging the services of a Copywriter and a Graphic Designer to improve their marketing can be a fantastic experience, based on a working partnership and the sharing of ideas. And once that bond of understanding has been established between them, that outsourced team becomes a highly effective tool in running new future campaigns as well.

    My advice is that anyone looking for fresh, quality and creative ways of portraying their business should always look to a Graphic Designer and Copywriter who will give them a personalised service – a one-on-one relationship, where the actual people doing the writing or artwork are the ones dealing directly with the client. The job gets done in less time, and the message doesn’t get lost in translation, as it sometimes does when the bigger marketing firms use a chain of staff (who have had no actual contact with the client, personally) to create their new material.

    In the right, personalised hands, a harmonious blend of freedom and instruction is a wonderful and prosperous thing. You’ll find creatives who are working for themselves, or in a smaller business, will invest more time and give better value for money (often throwing in extra time for free), because they are dedicated to customer service excellence, and so that the relationship with the client becomes an on-going relationship.

    Julie Cuthbert
    • Thanks for sharing Julie.

      Wes Towers

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