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The importance of a creative brief

October 2, 2017 #How to
The importance of a creative brief
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So, you need to update your website, your logo is a bit dated, you have discovered an insight from new research that requires a creative output (yes please!).

How do you communicate that to an entire team? How do you make sure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and working towards the same goals?

You need a creative brief.  

What is it?

A roadmap for a project. A single document that precisely describes the background, project, goals, audience, tone, budget, and deadlines, and who will be working on the project.  

Why do we need it?

A good creative brief means that everyone can clearly see what the end goal of the project is and unites them towards achieving it. It means there is no confusion, no wasted time and energy; that both client and team is clear on what they are doing and what is going on. 

So, what is in a brief? 

1. Background

Why did you start? What do you do and where do you do it? Historical context, core beliefs and values are a rich picking ground for the design team. It can provide untold cues and avenues to explore. With more research and stronger understanding comes richer insights, which can lead to end results that better fulfil not only the brief, but ultimately the end user’s needs.  

2. The Project

Clearly stating deliverables is absolutely key to a successful brief. The more specific the better. The less ambiguity there is in a brief the less room for error and misunderstanding. Taking time to understand exactly what is required from the project not only acts as a check sheet for the whole team, but can throw up potential pitfalls very early on in the process and not the night before the big launch.

3. The Goals

Increased awareness, more sales, world peace. What are the end results that the team is working towards? Clearly defining a carefully selected set of goals will give purpose and direction to the project. Too many and they can start to become confusing and conflicting not only for the end user, but also for the team. Clear goals will steer the project at every turn. If you want people to call a telephone number and make a sale you’re going to need a different site to one that wants to show the latest news.

4. The Audience

It’s all very well making something that looks nice, but if it doesn’t do what the user wants then it’s pointless and how will you know what the user wants if you haven’t gone out and asked them, looked into how they behave and at their behavioural data…that is a whole other blog post. The importance of the audience in the creative brief is at the very least to spell out what the primary users’ needs are and at best, to bring them alive through precise and considered user profiling. If you know what their goals, problems, frustrations and characteristics are you can better serve their real needs. 

5. The Tone

Is the brand established or authoritative, institutional or playful, bubbly and dead pan?

The answer is given to the design team will have a massive influence on their approach. 

Knowing the tone for the brief informs the designers as to what is going to be best response. An established and credible think tank is not going to want whacky, garish colours and a logo in a starburst. Nor would a pop up bar selling cereal from around the world want a crest, monogram and pin stripe.

6. Budget

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You need to know how much you have to know what you can do. 

Whether it’s the deficit of a small country or…less.

Knowing your budget means you can allocate it as effectively as possible and make the very most out of every penny, cent, yen, rupee and bit coin and making sure everyone is aware of it means that you’re not going to be over or under ambitious with resources available. 

7. Deadlines

Another obvious one. If there is a big event / launch the last thing you want to do is miss it. With a detailed schedule that is adhered to you can reduce the possibility of this happening. Again, detail is the key here. A final end date won’t keep you on time. Break it down into regular reviews. This means that if anything is slipping it can be addressed before the final deadline. 

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