August 2019

What makes a good creative brief?

4 minutes

It’s always exciting when you get a call from a client for an interesting new job.

Then it hits home that you didn't receive or ask for all of the info you need to produce the creative deliverables on brand, budget and to schedule.

Similarly, clients who are ill-prepared going into briefing meetings can also come away feeling like the designer didn’t quite understand what was being asked, which can often be down to ineffective communication around the company and scope of the project.

A client putting together a well-rounded brief, and equally a creative team asking the right questions, can be the difference between a successful and less than great project outcome.

Following the below points will give you the information you need to ensure you’ve got it covered:

Knowing the business

Is this a new client? Or the first time you’ve worked with this creative business or agency? It’s important to share and gain information on the who, what, why and importantly for who. For clients, giving an overview of the business will help the creative team to understand the history of the company, the industry it resides in and its competitors.

Target audience

Understanding the key audience or customer is important in gaining knowledge into what creative ideas will work for the project. Ask for a description of an individual within this audience – their demographic, gender, location, income, likes and dislikes. If the project is steered towards a younger audience, visually engaging infographics and illustrations, teamed with easy to read content will be a successful approach over a text heavy document.

Scope of the project and specifications

A clear project scope is beneficial to both parties – it means the creative team can put together an accurate budget based on your specifications, and the client won’t be surprised by any last-minute costs for deliverables that were not covered in the brief. This information will also allow creative teams to manage their time effectively, and produce designs that meet the client’s needs.

Providing / asking for the following information is crucial to any project:
  • Digital, print or both? Interactivity or animation?
  • What deliverables are required?
  • Will they be printed? If so what are the specifications?
  • Do they need design concepts or will the work be based around current branding or an established style?
  • Size and format
  • Page count
  • Are there any charts, graphs, diagrams or maps that will need to be redrawn?
  • Will images be provided? If not does the client have a budget for images? Does the client hold an account to any image libraries?
  • Is anyone else working on other materials within the project
Objectives and goals of the new design
  • Are the deliverables a redesign, reworking of existing artwork or brand new?
  • What are the clients tastes, likes and dislikes and definite “do nots”
  • Client to share examples of similar work they like
Budget and schedule

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about creative teams asking for a client to disclose a budget, is that the client will be overcharged. It is really important for the client to understand that this is so the services can be tailored to the budget. The famous venn diagram below shows this perfectly.

Creative teams – make it clear at the beginning of the project how long each stage will take. Explain that good design takes time, and similarly if there is no movement on a tight deadline, the quality will be jeopardized.

Clients – communicate your key milestones and deadlines to the creative team. Informing the designer of an ‘ideal deadline’ and not the real deadline may mean that there is no allocated time to work on the project past this date. This can cause major issues at the key stage in the process, right when you need support the most.

Discuss how the amends and approval process will play out. Will you need to allow more time at the clients end for reviews, or will decisions only be made by one or two people? Creative teams should be clear about how long each amends stage will take early on in the project, and communicate any changes to this at each round of amends.

Formalise the schedule for the project to solidify your agreement. This clearly lays out key milestones that both parties are expected to meet in order for the end deadline to be reached.

The success of a project is not only great creative, but great communication!

Tara Cloak is Creative Director at NU Creative, specialists in design and branding.

NU Creative have been supporting companies like HIREWORKS, CHaL and Gerald Edelman with their creative projects. We are passionate about creating truly stand out brands for our clients. Get in touch to find out how we can help you evolve.

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