Are you planning to have a set of icons designed for your website or application, or a complete icon-makeover in the near future? As any icon designer will tell you, clear guidelines and a good brief can really help them deliver the goods. A design company will tell you the exact technical criteria and information you need to include in your icon design brief.

However, if you want to come up with a superb set of icons, it may be useful to take one step back to reflect on what you really want to achieve. The four or five interrogatives or question-asking words we use in everyday language can help you clarify what you want to achieve and enhance your brief:

  • The what question: what exactly are you aiming to achieve? What is your product and what kind of image do you wish to project? Here is a good opportunity to define clearly what your brand stands for. From this space, you can then decide how best to project an image that does justice to your company’s aims and objectives. You can also decide what examples you can provide to support your design brief.
  • The why question: exactly why are you getting icons designed for your company or organisation? Obviously, you have to take into account the core values of your company or of the particular product in question. All businesses offer solutions to the customer and, presumably, what you want to achieve is to project the best image possible of the solutions you’re offering through visual looks (including icons) and any other factors in the mix. If your icons are part of a brand, you will want to maintain harmony and consistency in the visuals.
  • The where question: where exactly are the icons to be used? Where will they serve best – whether in terms of functionality, aesthetics or both? Then further down the line, you have to take account of where you will be marketing your products: is there a lot of competition? What are their products like and what is the quality of the icons in their packages if users will be comparing the products side by side?
  • The when question: exactly when is your product coming on stream and therefore what icon package will be most suitable? Are you launching a new product or repackaging an already existing product? If it’s several months or a whole year down the line, what new trends will your package be competing against? Are there seasonal factors?
  • The how question: exactly how are the completed icons to be finished and delivered? And how do you intend to liaise with the designers for further upgrades, if this is required? How questions lead neatly to the technical information and practical issues, which is exactly where you want to go next. But now you have a better overview of what you want by going through this exercise.

With any luck, answering these questions will give you some new perspective and help you to create a great design brief. When clear creative visioning and technical expertise meet, the results are usually terrific and everybody wins.

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