The creative brief is one of the essential parts of the design process.
Starting a project without one would be a bit like proceeding to build a house without a blueprint.
Although it may be possible to do, you may finish the house and then realise that you should have put your door elsewhere.
Ninety per cent of the time, completing a creative brief is worth the time and effort. Even if the job is not complex, thinking through some of the tough questions helps bring clarity and focus to the task at hand. There are, of course, some cases in which it may not be necessary. A few examples might be: you want to reprint your business cards or letterhead, you would like to add a plug-in or extend the functionality of your website, you need to make a very minor tweak to your practice brochure before reprinting.
Ultimately, the result can only be as good as the brief, so it’s in your best interest to provide one that is well-crafted. Here is why a well-produced design brief is a critical step in the marketing process of your practice:
- The obvious: you can’t design something you don’t really understand. What is this project solving for? What are the objectives and expectations? Do you have a vision in mind? A creative brief puts everyone on the same page. If a project is unsuccessful, chances are good that the brief was non-existent.
- A well-written creative brief will ultimately shorten the time it takes to complete a project. It’s a tool that facilitates clear and thorough communication at the beginning of the design process, heading off the inevitable revisions and course corrections that are a natural by-product of poor planning. It’s not too hard to imagine the time that can be saved.
- The approval process will be much shorter. Ambiguous goals and unclear objectives coupled with vague statements are a fact of busy practice life. That’s where the briefing process helps to anticipate obstacles and align objective right at the start without wasting valuable time at the end.
- The end product will be of much greater quality, a direct result of setting clear objectives, aligning with practice objectives and confirming expectations up front.
So what does a creative brief look like? Here are a few qualities that all briefs have in common:
- Brief (that’s why it’s called a brief!) – No longer than 2 or 3 pages.
- Easy to read – Content subdivided into various sections with clearly-defined headings, use of short bullet points instead of narrative text
- Easy to print – Standard size
- Easy to share – Created in a way that it can be sent electronically to others collaborating on the project
- Simple and well-organised
What content should be included?
- Short description (summary) of project
- Project goals and objectives
- Target audience
- Things you are providing (photos, website screen shots, diagrams, etc.)
- Project specifications and format (these may change as the project develops)
- Main messages and objectives
- Where to look for inspiration (and where not to look)
Let the creative brief act as your guiding instrument and understand that time spent on a well-designed brief is an investment paying handsome dividends, greatly improved process and a higher quality of output.