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The creative brief – first step to successful branding

Design

Imagine a deserted island with a hidden treasure. When your boat reaches the shore, the captain handing you a scrap of paper with the topography of the unknown land. On how precisely the pirates have drawn the map and how skillfully the sailor can imagine all the nuances of the terrain, depends whether he will reach the treasure. More or less this is what a creative brief is to a brand designer – an instruction that will serve as a map to get to the desired destination.

The creative brief determines whether a brand designer will understand the reasons behind the already made decisions and give you the right solutions. If you are not able to describe your expectations precisely, it is possible that the treasure hunt will not be successful. Thus, it will expose you to unnecessary costs and time losses.

Therefore, in this article, I will focus on a few key issues related to the creative brief and how to avoid them. So that you are well prepared to go on a branding journey.

But again, why is so important?

The brief makes it easier to understand the scope of work before the first decisions are made. It is a document prepared by you, that makes it easier for a designer to envision your brand goals and the challenges.

The brief should point to the problem and inspire creative ideas. Remember brand designer doesn’t pull the projects out of the hat. They are the result of well-chosen solutions and a well-thought-out strategy.

Okay, the mystery of why the creative brief is so important has been solved. But how do you write it?

A good creative brief takes time and commitment.

Sit down prepared. Think about all your expectations first – what’s your goals and what’s the reason behind it. What materials would you like to include? What do you care about? Spend a couple of hours on this to make sure the information you provide to the brand designer is precise and clear. Before you type everything into your document, put all your thoughts on a piece of paper or sticky notes. This will give you a completely different view.

A fresh perspective will also come in handy. You need to be sure you are objective. Therefore, it is a good idea to involve other team members or people who know your company and your approach to business very well to take part in the brainstorming phase. They will help you clarify the final version of the document.

When you have all your thoughts written down, you are ready for the next stage.

A creative brief step by step

Each agency or designer works differently. Some companies also have their own template of a creative brief to make sure that at this stage they will receive all relevant information and successfully complete the project.

However, if you don’t have a template like this, then there’s nothing to worry about. Below I will guide you step by step through the structure of the basic brief.

What to include in the creative brief. Introduction

The first page of the creative brief should include:

  • Form of application – is it a bid or a single inquiry.
  • Due date of applications.
  • Deadline for the finished project and implementation.
  • Name of the person responsible for running the project and/or the contact person responsible for answering the questions.

What to include in the creative brief. About us

  • In this section, include the most important information about the company – field of expertise, mission, and history. However, remember to only focus on key information that is important to the project. Add links to the website where the brand designer can find more details.

What to include in the creative brief. Type of the project

  • What kind of project do you need – whether it is a logo design, branding or a website, the brief should contain a detailed description.

What to include in the creative brief. Why?

  • Why have you decided to commission the project? If, for example, you want to refresh the logo, what are the reasons behind it (e.g. the logo does not reflect the nature of the company and misleads potential customers). Remember to be specific and talk about business reasons. Information that you are bored with the green color will not help anyone.

What to include in the creative brief. Target group

  • who is your audience? The demographic and psychographic description will help determine the style and form of the project. Where do they come from, what social group they represent, and more importantly, what they expect, what they like, what are their aspirations?

Read more: Knowing your customer – building ideal customer profile

What to include in the creative brief. Functionalities and usage

  • e.g. how the new materials will be used and what elements it should contain, including the type of online and offline assets, who going to use it, and how. Another example? In the case of a logo design for a clothing company, it is important that it looks good on textiles and on small embroidered labels. Such details will help in choosing the right solutions.

What to include in the creative brief. Competition and market information

  • who is your competition and how the industry looks like? It’s important for a brand designer to know the market background, and what are the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. This information will help distinguish your brand from others.

What to include in the creative brief. The design you like and dislike

  • Choose 3-5 positive and some negative examples. The materials you choose may not necessarily be related to your industry. Describe what you like about them and what you would prefer to avoid.

What to include in the creative brief. Budget

  • this point is always controversial, but a well-planned budget allows designers to choose the right tools and help the agency determine your options.

What to include in the creative brief. Additional materials

  • at the very end, include all existing materials at your disposal. Texts and graphics. Don’t forget to inform the designer about the decisions that have already been made – for example, the choice of formats, web platforms, and even details such as colors or photos.

This overall structure will help you organize the information that the brand designer will use later in building the project.

If you still feel insecure, don’t worry. A good freelancer who takes care of the clients’ needs, will help you clarify the information, and may even discover something new for you, something that you have not thought about so far.

And a few more tips…

Keep it simple – the brief should include all important elements related to the project, but at the same time should not be extensive. Make sure you include the essence;

Look at the problem through someone else’s eyes – some of the things that seem obvious to you may not be so to others. Remember to clearly state your expectations, contain information that will not confuse anyone, and the language will be simple and understandable to others;

Don’t forget about context – in order to respond well to your company’s needs, the brand designer will need context – how the company works, what the problem is, and what possible causes could be;

Structure – keep a clear structure to make the document easier to understand. Split the file into headers and sections.

Summary


The brief seems to be one of the most crucial elements of the process. It requires time and precise goal setting. Having everything in black and white will surely help you get a different perspective as well, and maybe even see things that were not so obvious at first. Your brand designer will thank you for a well-structured document, and you will make sure that your needs are properly interpreted, save time, and avoid additional costs resulting from misinterpretation.

Empower your brand with strategy that works long-term

I help show your brand’s true potential using strategy and design. I support small entrepreneurs in reaching their brand’s goals, connect with the right audience and stand out from the competition.

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Written by Magdalena

Written by Magdalena

Brand Specialist

I am on a mission to empower small entrepreneurs in reaching their brand’s goals, connect with the right audience and stand out from the crowd. I use strategy and design to show their brand’s true potential.

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