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  • Writer's pictureGayle Carpenter

Why a clear design brief leads to better creative results

In giving your creative team a well thought out brief, with some key information and context, you will give them a much higher chance of meeting, or even exceeding, your expectations. A good brief can also save you time and money because it can also provide the right creative outcome sooner.

Most of these are logical and common sense, but in the excitement or time pressure of putting a brief together, important aspects can easily be over looked.

Use our briefing guide and you will be saving yourself time, money – and energy:

1. The basics: Client Name, Contact details and Project Name

It seems obvious. But be clear from the get-go.

2. Introduce yourselves

For new clients; introduce yourself and your business. Include relevant background info like website links.

Then for both new and existing clients; if there are other people working on the project such as staff or other contributors, list them out along with their capabilities and responsibilities. If you are new to working with a creative team, then this is a valuable aspect to include that helps build a great working relationship.

3. Project background

Important for new and return clients. Describe the project in as much detail as you need to. Paint the picture for the project and remember that context is key:

  • What is the project designed to do?

  • What problems will it solve?

  • How has it come to fruition?

  • Where and how does it interact with other activity and initiatives?

  • What are its key objectives and what does success look like?

4. Market background

Describe the current market (is it a new or existing market for you?) and conditions as well as your expectations regarding what you need to achieve.

  • Include any market research and insights

  • Who are your audience (customers/users)?

  • What is the competition like?

  • And are you inspired by others?

Website links are a helpful to give a better feel for the landscape of your market but also for inspiration from other sectors too.

5. Work to date

Detail any existing work carried out that impacts on this one, particularly if there is history to the project.

  • Do you need to pass on contact details for collaborators?

  • Is there a reference you can give to historic relevant information?

  • Is there any sample or example content that you can reference?

6. Services and outputs required

Your project could require one or many things.

  • Detail the deliverables that you need eg. Brand guidelines, website, brochure, social media assets etc.

  • Provide any technical specifications (sizings etc) if you know them.

  • Make clear what format you want the outcomes in and where you want them sent too.

  • Indicate what you want from the creative team in terms of project management including meetings, calls and updates.

Not sure what you need? Then note that you are looking for Agency input here.

7. What does success look like?

To help the creative team meet your objectives, they also need to have an understanding of how you are measuring the success of your goal and measuring how effective the project will be for the business (or larger project) as a whole.

Their goal is to provide you with an effective design service that meets your targets, so involve them with this from the start.

8. Budget (optional)

You can provide a budget if you have one, or request that the Agency come back to you with a figure. If you have a limited budget, it is worth mentioning it in approximate terms so you are on the same page as your creative team. If you can indicate a 'ball park' budget then it is helpful. If you have chosen an honest and trusted agency then the budget will not define the creative work - but it does allow them to put an optimal amount of time into your project and ensure you get the most for your budget.

9. Constraints

If there are existing brand guidelines that need to be adhered to, or if the creative team need to work alongside partner suppliers or agencies, then confirm this and ensure copies of any regulations or guidelines are provided. Make clear any other constraints such as time or location, or access to key audiences too. And in the case of digital projects, are there any IT or security implications that could effect the project.

10. Timeframes

Communicate clearly any project plans, or key dates for the project, not just the final deadline. Identify if they are 'hard' or 'soft' deadlines too.

And finally... The approval process

Communicate what the approval process is if there is one, so this can be accounted for when planning timescales. This works both ways so the Agency may want to ensure that you review, feedback and approve at each key stage to help you keep the project on track and leave no room for misunderstandings.

At Sparkloop we always help our clients to see the importance of submitting a great creative brief because quality in = quality out. Simple!

Gayle Carpenter, Creative Director of Sparkloop Creative Agency


Many thanks to the DBA for their helpful members article on Writing a Design Brief.

Great minds think alike!


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