What’s a Creative Brief - and why do I need one?

When they are ready to hire a branding or design firm, many larger companies will prepare a Creative Brief that clearly explains their goals for the project, the desired look or style and the reasoning behind it. It’s fantastic to work with companies that have put the thought and time into a document like this because a creative brief is like a road map that not only gives clear directions, but lets you measure easily at the end of the process if you’ve arrived at the intended destination when it’s all done. In other words, the likelihood of producing work that is exactly what’s best for them is infinitely higher. 

So when I work with people and companies that don’t have the capacity, experience or time to put together a useful Creative Brief, I take them through a process that lets us develop one together. More often than not, this process uncovers questions and holes in planning, budgeting or marketing strategy that can then get addressed before making a misplaced investment or going off in the wrong direction. Of course, having a clear Creative Brief is also immensely valuable for the designer, as it helps to narrow down the millions of possible directions into those that make the most sense for the particular business, phase, product and audience! Don’t worry about limiting options, there are still plenty of different ways to express the chosen direction(s) - and none of it happens without full approval from the client.

Here are some of the typical questions that are addressed when we work on a Creative Brief:

• In what geographic markets and categories do you compete?

• Who do you believe was, is and will be your ideal customer, and why? 

• What are your company and/or brand core values?

• How do your services, offerings or way of doing business differentiate your company from others in the industry?

• What’s the single most important thing you want your customers to believe about you, your product or services?

Then it goes into the project details, whether we’re working on a new brand, a web site or a line of packaging. After finding answers to these questions and gathering any additional research and data the client may already have, they’re analyzed and worked into a comprehensive Creative Brief document that will serve as our guideline and measuring stick going forward. Having a tightly defined goal actually can be liberating, and it provides accountability for both client and designer. It’s an exciting, often eye-opening exercise, and the result is as valuable for your marketing decisions as it is for the designer.

So whether you're able to produce a Creative Brief in-house or let your designer take the lead, it's an invaluable piece in the quest for successful branding and design.