Have you ever found yourself wanting to strangle your designer? It’s also possible your designer is entertaining similar fantasies of hacking you to pieces with an ax. Don’t worry, these feelings are normal. Designers and other creative professionals often think and operate very differently from their clients and this can result in conflict that is frustrating, but (usually) not fatal.
There is a way to smooth the rough patches in your working relationship. All you need is a creative brief. No, it’s not a wacky pair of underwear you don for the first meeting with your designer, but it is essential to your success. A creative brief is one of the critical first steps in the design process. While it will take some upfront effort, it will save you massive time and anguish on your design project and help you get the results you want.
Remember that this document is not only for your designer but also for you. The steps below can help you untangle some of the marketing mysteries that are holding you back from success. It’s designed to give you clarity so you can get on with the business of running your business while your designer has a solid foundation to work from instead of just making stuff up and hoping you like it.
To get to the heart of the project and communicate clearly to your designer you need to ensure your creative brief includes the following information:
1. Client Background: Who are you (the business)? What is the product or service you offer? What are your strengths, your weaknesses and the opportunities you see in marketplace? What other documents, articles or research support your product or service?
2. Project Overview: What do you want your designer to create and why? Is it a website, a landing page, a brochure or an app? Why do you need this done? What’s the opportunity for you? Will this design work be used in a variety of marketing avenues?
3. Goals: What are you trying to achieve? What is the purpose of this project? What are your top three objectives?
4. Audience: Who are we talking to? What do they think of us? Why should they care? If you don’t yet have your target market well-defined you definitely need to get that sorted out before you hand a brief over to a designer.
5. Competitors: Who is the competition and how are you different from them? What key messages are they sending and what are they doing well? Where can you improve on the work they’re doing?
6. Tone: How should we be communicating? What adjectives describe the feeling or approach? This is very closely related to who your niche or market is. It should also reflect the overall values and character of the company. It’s important that all your marketing materials reflect a similar tone that is in line with the brand and character you want to create.
7. Message: What are we trying to say? Has copywriting already been developed or do you need help with that as well? What action do you want your market to take in order to become clients or customers?
8. Reference Materials: If you see something out there that you like or has elements in it that you think would be appropriate for your business then include links to them here and state why you included it. You can also include any rough sketches you have or marketing materials you’ve used in the past.
9. Visuals: Where are images or visuals coming from or who is creating them if they don’t already exist? Do we need to hire a photographer or illustrator? Who should take on that role, the designer or you?
10. Deadlines: What is the timeline or schedule? Who is responsible for what deliverables at what time.
11. Budget: Don’t be afraid to include a budget. Otherwise, you might end up wasting time gathering quotes from people you can’t afford. If you truly have no idea what you want to spend simply ask for an estimate based on your creative brief instead of requesting a detailed proposal. This will save both you, and the designers you contact, a lot of time.
12. Team: Who is involved with the project and who should the designer and other creative suppliers report to? Who will be making the final decisions?
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Yes, this is a lot to cover and yes, it will take a considerable amount of time. If you’re going to spend money on a marketing campaign, it’s worth doing everything you can to ensure you get results. A creative brief provides a clear map for both the client and designer to refer to, like a pirate searching a foreign land for buried treasure. There’s gold in them there briefs, I promise.