The first step in any design project is to develop a creative brief.
You may be thinking, “Well, I called my designer and emailed them a photo of some notes I made – surely they can work out what I want from that?”. Unfortunately not. Although designers are amazing people, they don’t know your business as well as you do and they can’t read your mind! That’s why a clear creative brief is an essential ingredient in any design project.
So what exactly is a creative brief?
Just in case you’re wondering, creative briefs are nothing to do with artistic underwear! A creative brief is simply a set of instructions relayed from client to designer prior to starting a design project.
And why is a creative brief so imperative?
Commencing a design project without a clear brief is like building a house with no architect’s drawings. Or setting off on an expedition without a map. Or flying blindfolded. To say the least, these ventures are risky and unwise, but more importantly, the outcomes are unlikely to align with what you originally set out to achieve. So why would we ever consider undertaking a rebrand, designing a brochure or building a website without a clearly defined brief?
A job well planned is a job half done!
Different types of design projects require slightly different creative briefs. However, these six points should always be covered:
1. Describe your organisation
Explain what your organisation is and what it isn’t – both are important. Describe this in some detail to enable your designer to gain a solid understanding of it and give an overview of your mission, vision and values.
2. Describe your project
Provide a clear and concise description of your project including any key messages that must be communicated, any design elements that must be included (e.g. logos, images, contact details, etc.) and the desired tone of voice.
3. Describe the audience
Who are we designing for? Target audiences may include customers, prospects and employees – potentially anyone who you wish to be associated with your brand. It’s important that you put yourself in the shoes of your audience, or better still, actually ask some questions to get their point of view.
4. Outline your goals and objectives
What is the purpose of the proposed project? What are you looking to achieve? It’s important to focus on desired outcomes rather than getting engrossed in the design aesthetics – after all, that’s why designers exist, to make things look great!
5. Clarify project timescales
Do you have a “no-fail” completion date? Are there any important milestones relating to print deadlines, mailing schedules or delivery dates? Making your designer aware of these right from the start will enable them to prioritise accordingly and help you to achieve them.
6. Define your budget
Last but not least – available budget is one of your most important considerations. This is no “trick” question, it’s just that there has to be some alignment between expectations and outlay. Put simply, we’d all like to own a Ferrari but if we can’t afford one it’s an unrealistic desire!
Designers may come across as rather demanding at times but we’ve only got your good at heart! Once project scope and expectations have been defined, they can be discussed and agreed upon, prior to a project commencing. Sure, you’ll have to invest some time to get this done but we can assure you it will be time well spent.
Keep in mind that a creative brief should be relatively short (that’s why it’s called a brief!) but must still be comprehensive. Anything unclear or incomplete is likely to result in confusion and questions, or worse still, wasted time, effort and money, so it’s well worth getting it right from the start. A solid brief will help to ensure that your project is delivered on time and within budget, thereby saving stress and hassle for everyone involved. What’s not to like?