Whether you are designing a new logo or a fully responsive e-commerce website, it is advised that the creative journey with your client begins with a brief to help establish how the project should be approached. It acts as a blueprint to provide all the intricate details for the creative agency to grow ideas from, helping to shape the overall strategy and goals for the project.
One other significant benefit for the brief is that it contributes towards ensuring there is consistency through collaboration. With a team of strategists, researchers and designers, it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page in terms of the deliverables.
Here are 10 pointers to factor in that’ll give you the information you’ll need to get started:
1. Who they are and what they do
Working from the ground up and establishing the company’s foundations is always going to be the best place to start a creative brief. Find out the size of their company and how long have they been in business. Ask how the business was formed. Establish their product or service offering. What are they most proud of within the company and what aspirations to they have for its future? Obtaining all of this information will enable you to see the business through the customer’s eyes whilst helping to you to visualise a professional solution for their needs.
2. The scope of the project
The next step is to hone in on the requirements of the project. The devil is in the detail here; leave no stone unturned because the customer is going to appreciate you a lot more if you’re able to acquire all the information you need up front rather than querying again later down the line. By knowing the extent of the campaign, you’ll be able to pinpoint the level of collateral needed, how each element is intended to work and will ultimately allow you to calculate the time-frame for the project and how that collates to the customer’s intended deadline.
3. The target market
By getting the customer to describe their typical client, you will be able to form an accurate impression for how your project should be directed. Consider criteria such as age, ethnicity and gender. The best method is to generate profiles of how you interpret this client to be. Identify how this person would live their day to day life, what their habits are, what excites them. With all of this information you’ll be able find the connections between audience and product and ultimately determine how it should be marketed.
4. The competition
Establishing who your customer is up against in their market is critical, for this will give you guidance on how to position their product. Whilst they’ll want to avoid blending in, equally they’ll want to stand out for the right reasons. Consider that although you may sell the same product as someone else, your audiences can be worlds apart. The key is to to find the gaps which are yet to be conquered. Find ways to be unique, yet appealing.
5. The tone and image they need to portray
One thing to avoid is to try being everything to everyone. Find their niche and focus 100% on it. Their audience may be techy, earthy, old or young. The key is to determine what they associate their audience with. Will they be more drawn to a serif font and an organic colour palette or would something more modern and punchy work better? Consider creating mood boards comprising of magazine cuttings, postcards, colour swatches and fabrics…. anything that you find inspiring and relevant to the project. From here you can introduce the various elements of the design to each other and suddenly, you have your first concept.
6. Their ultimate goal and how it will be measured
If you ask this question, it’s more than likely the response will be that your customer wants to generate more business. There are a number of different ways in which this can be done though and the strategy you employ will be partially governed by this.
In addition, measuring the success of the campaign will help to establish how effective the design has been. If results aren’t measurable, find out how the collateral will be used and how it fits in to their new business plan. One way to maximise the potential of a successful campaign is to provide a clear call to action. Inform the customer how they can fully utilise this.
7. The budget
Agreeing a fee for the project prior to its commencement will enable you to gauge the time and complexity you can allow. It’s also worth considering itemising the costs so that they can assess a breakdown of each segment for the project which will allow them to appreciate the length of time factored in. Providing all of this information in advance will serve to protect the relationship with the customer and ensure the whole process runs smoothly and all deadlines are met on time.
8. The handling of approvals
Effective communication throughout the project is essential in order for all deliverables to be met on time and in accordance to the brief. Establish who your main point of contact will be and whether there are any other individuals involved in the approval process. If anyone else is to be included on approvals, make sure to get all points of contact; their name, email address and phone number. It’s also a good idea is to list all deadlines and duplicate these into your calendar.
9. Any previous marketing materials that has been used
This will provide you with a benchmark for where to start. You can ask the customer what they like and what works for them, what they dislike and what is failing to have an impact. Include links to their current website if they have one along with any social media pages they manage.
In addition, if their brand is currently void of guidelines, there may be an opportunity to expand the project by suggesting that a set are built. Alternatively, if they have specific fonts or colourways that are to be used, ensure that these are shared in advance – but do remember to consider licenses for usage rights.
10. Other people responsible for other pieces of this project
Depending on the work entailed, you may find that you need to rely on others for certain information in order for you to deliver to the customer on time. Consider the fact that they may not always to be able to provide everything you need before you begin in which case ensure you agree to dates when this information will be supplied.
The information you require will vary from project to project but the more you ask, the more you get and the more clarity you’ll have about what your client needs. It’s all too easy to file the creative brief away somewhere, thinking you’ll remember everything that was noted so always keep it within view whilst the project is live. Review it again before you begin to design and again before you’re ready to present to the customer to confirm you’ve met the goals.