Communications Design

The Secret To Great Series Design

May 28, 2013

One question I get asked frequently is “What is your process for creating series art?”

As the Communications Director, I act as the art director for any series design and branding package we do. I rarely am the one creating the graphic, but I work through the creative approach we’re taking on the series and direct the process while working with a designer or creative team.

There’s one document that I use for each series branding project that has been crucial to success. It’s called a Creative Brief.

Here’s what is included in the document and what the process looks like for creating great series design:

Start with the “big idea” of the series

I’ve written about the series planning process we use before in building a series plan for the teaching, creative and communications teams. It’s crucial that you know the big idea of the series before starting the branding of the series.

Build a Creative Brief

This is a document I give to the designer I work with that outlines everything they need to know on the project.

Elements of the Creative Brief:

  • Series Title – the title/subtitle the designer will use for the graphic
  • Series Concept & Summary – big idea of the series
  • Objectives – what this project should accomplish
  • Design Approach – what the graphic should feel like
  • Main Deliverable – what is the main graphic size that they should begin with
  • File Transfer – how we’ll coordinate viewing comps and deliver final files
  • Budget – what is the budget for the full project
  • Timeline – when are the milestones and completion dates
  • Contact – who their point person is on the project
  • Inspiration – examples of designs that show what I’m looking for, along with explanations to give context to what I like about each inspiration image

Select A Designer

I typically work with freelancers to do series graphics instead of doing these in-house. What I like about this approach is that I can work with a variety of designers and select one that has a design style that best fits the project. Even when we occasionally do a series design in-house, I still complete a creative brief to refine the creative direction of the series.


After selecting a designer for the project, I setup a Skype/phone meeting to talk through the creative brief, get their initial questions and ideas, and setup meeting times based off the project milestones we’ve established. Then, it’s time to set them free to do what they do best – design!

During the creation process, the designer will check in with me on comps or ideas to see if it’s heading in the right direction. At the beginning, the comps are usually half-baked ideas to give an idea of the directions they can go on the project. After I give them feedback on which direction I’d like to go with, they begin refining the design. The designer will then send updated comps to show progress and I’m then able to give feedback for anything that might need to be tweaked. Once we land on a final graphic, the designer sends over the final project deliverables.

Case Study – Battles + Beats

At West Ridge, we just completed a branding package for a series called Battles + Beats. I worked with the incredibly talented Joe Cavazos on this project and he did a killer job of bringing the series to life. Here’s a look at the creative brief and the final graphic that we landed with:


QUESTION: What’s your process look like for creating series graphics? What lessons have you learned?