What do I need to supply to a designer to make my PDF guide look good?

What do I need to supply to a designer to make my PDF guide look good?

So you’ve written content for a guide you’ll use for clients and prospects, and you’ve found a designer you like and trust. Wonderful! What next?

To truly capture your brand and your voice, your chosen designer will need a little help to get going. If your designer just asks for the content and nothing else, you have every right to feel slightly concerned. How do they know what you like and dislike? Do they really care enough to spend time getting to know you?

These are the top 7 most important things to send to your designer. As a design team, we’ve found these items help us get to know who you are, what your brand reflects, what your unique style and tone of voice is, and what you like and dislike. Ultimately, when your designer truly understands these things, the result is a guide that reflects your brand perfectly, is visually appealing to your target market, with a design that compliments the great content you already have. 

Remember, images always speak louder than words. 

1. Give the right logo files to your designer:

Vector files are a must when it comes to your logo. Your logo and brand graphics need to be created as vectors so we’re able to scale them to any size without getting pixelated (blurry!).

Vector file types such as AI and EPS allow for more flexibility and are excellent for creating graphics – especially ones that could require resizing. At PF, we prefer these types of logo files so we can make sure your branded materials look great!

Both AI and EPS file types can be produced using Adobe Illustrator. 

AI (Adobe Illustrator) files are original files that include all the layers and transparency properties. These files are the rawest of the raw. From AI files, all other file types can be exported. 

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) format are mostly used by a lot of old existing vector graphics. These EPS files can also be reopened and edited like AI files. Though they can’t retain all transparency properties, a lot of designers (including the PF team) and printers still work with them to achieve high resolution copies of logo and graphic files.  

That’s all very well (I hear you say), but where do I get these vector files from?? Whoever designed your logo for you will have all the file types of your logo. If it was PF, then you get to leave this step out as we already have all your logo files and guidelines. 

If you don’t have these already, do ask for all of these from your logo designer – remember, they belong to you once the design is complete and you’ll need them for most printing and design jobs you do in the future.

If you don’t have access to either of these, don’t panic, we can always make a plan. A high resolution version of your logo is great but even if you don’t have that, we could recreate your logo if need be. This may just take a little longer.

2. Share your Logo/Brand Guidelines:

The logo/brand guidelines explain the use of the brand style to ensure all the visual elements of the brand are used consistently in all communications. This includes publications, presentations, and all other marketing materials both online and print. 

Because the brand cannot be compromised, the guide provides all the pertinent specifications you need to maintain integrity. These include, but are not limited to, the different versions of your logo and how they are supposed to be used, as well as the colours and fonts for your branding. 

For an example, look at our PF logo guidelines here.

3. Send them a copy of your final content (or just key points if PF are doing content for you): 

If you have written content already and feel it reflects exactly what you are trying to convey to your clients or prospects, well done! 

If you know you want to create a guide of some sort, but don’t know where to start, I’d suggest reading ‘They Ask, You Answer’, by Marcus Sheridan. His main concept is to write content that answers all the questions your clients have currently, have asked in the past, or will ask in the future. 

Have a brainstorming session with your team to discuss all the questions your clients have, create a simple G-sheet and get your team to add questions to it whenever they have one from a client. Getting your team involved from the beginning will help with marketing buy-in and will encourage individual team members to feel accountable and responsible for the marketing items you involve them in.

From the research that Marcus did, he found “there were five types of content subjects (or types of questions) that seemed to move the needle with readers more than anything else, ultimately rendering the greatest amount of traffic, conversions, leads and sales.”  These five subjects were as follows:

  • Pricing and cost
  • Comparisons eg. Xero vs Quickbooks
  • Problems
  • Reviews
  • ‘Best of’ lists e.g. ‘Best apps for…’

 4. Discuss your Style, Imagery & Tone of Voice

Even if you haven’t put much thought into it, you’ve already got your own unique style and tone of voice. If you haven’t documented it, you do need to – partly for your own sake, but also for the rest of your team. This will continue to be refined as your brand develops. 

A style sheet contains the company’s typography (you may think of this as fonts) and colour scheme. The imagery sheet shows the kind of image and design work your firm uses. Tone of voice (TOV) sheets provide words or phrases that best describe the company’s values, as well as specific words you use and don’t use. 

For an example, review the PF style, imagery and tone of voice sheets here.

5.  Let your designer know what images you like/don’t like

Having a confirmed Style, Imagery & Tone of Voice document helps with this design aspect but if you haven’t got this created yet, your designer can still create something that you love! 

Your designer will have a look at your website and social media platforms to get a feel for the type of imagery that you use and like. It helps to understand if you prefer:

  • landscape or portrait orientation
  • colour or black and white
  • images with or without people
  • images that show specific themes, like nature, tech, your offices
  • abstract images, etc. 

If you have no idea what you like just yet, that’s ok! We’ll chat with you about your preferences and make a decision on what types of images might be best for your brand together. 

You want to use specific images for your PDF that relate to your content, so it’s important to have that discussion with your designer. Send them a few types of images you like and/or a few that you don’t. 

6. Share links to other PDF guides that you like or don’t like

This is pretty straight forward. Perhaps you’ve decided to create the PDF guide because you’ve seen one from another firm that you think is great…if that’s the case, we’d love to see it! 

Alternatively, maybe you’ve seen a guide from another firm that you think is just terrible and you’ve thought ‘I bet I could make one WAY better than that!’. If that was your thinking, we’d love to see the guide and to hear the reasons why you didn’t like it. 

Remember to “steal like an artist”. That means you take other companies’ ideas (this could be other accountants) and put your spin on it. Your brand, your take, your style. But you never steal their content, or their way of doing things. If it looks too similar to another firm’s, keep working.

Here’s a beautiful example from The Designer CPA.

The Designer CPA

7.  Find out if there are any print requirements and/or templates from your chosen printer

One thing the designer needs is print requirements or templates from your chosen printers. Sharing details like size, format, orientation, file type, etc. before any work is started saves you and the designer a lot of time and effort.

If you haven’t found a good printer yet, let us know and we can happily recommend someone for you.  

We know this looks like a very long list and may be super overwhelming! Don’t despair! Even if you only have 1 or 2 items on this list, we can still help you. As mentioned before, it may just take a little longer to give you the perfect design item you initially envisioned. 

As most of our clients can confirm, the more we work with you, the easier this process becomes. When clients have been with us for years, we ask fewer questions and they need  fewer revisions .

Got something you’d like designed? Chat to the PF team to see how we can help you!

7 things for designer