So what is a creative brief, what makes for a good one how to write a winning one?
In simplest terms, brief is a document that summarises the objectives of your project and contains all the goals and information. It’s the foundation for the job and it allows you to get very clear about where you want it to go. Depending on how specific you want to be It can be small or very extensive.
If you choose to do your own branding the brief will help you organise your thoughts, information and plans. If the job is done by a designer or a design studio it will allow you to share with them everything you know, expect and hope for.
I know that you may want to rush straight to the good stuff but why would want to spend a lot of time and/or money on a project but don’t want to spend the time setting it up for success?
When it comes to creativity there are as many opinions and approaches as there are people involved. Everyone has a different vision for what the end result should look like and what the objectives are. Writing a brief allows you to get everyone on the same page saving you time, hustle and money. It is also an amazing tool to refer to during the project as often different influences make you lose sight of what you were trying to achieve.
And lastly it helps to judge the end result - measure it against the brief and you will clearly see if all the objectives have been met.
Branding Agency Brief 101
Here is a recipe for a good brief. Mind you, not every field will apply to you and that’s ok. Every project is a little bit different so the information needed may vary. But there are some bits that apply to every project. I’ve marked the bits that are non-negotiable so you know not to skip them. You don’t have to go extremely detailed on this but write as much as you can.
1. TOP LINE SUMMARY
Write your project (not just your business info) explanation in one sentence. The best way to do it is imagining yourself in a lift with someone really important - you have 30 seconds to explain to them what the project is and what needs to be done.
2. EXPLAIN WHAT YOUR BUSINESS IS
Go a little bit deeper and explain exactly what needs doing
Now is the time to dig a bit deeper. Write all the information about your brand / product / service How or why it’s started. Are there any important market information, brand background and history, product development history anything worth knowing should be here
4. PRODUCTS / SERVICES - NOW
What are the products or services you currently offer or want to offer? List them all here and make sure to include all the variations such as flavours or sizes
5. PRODUCTS / SERVICES - FUTURE
Are you planning on adding new products in the future? What products are you thinking about
6. WHAT'S YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVE
What are you hoping to achieve with this product/brand - is this a small local project or are you aiming for a world domination
7. WHAT’S THE GOAL
What do you want this project to achieve - this is the only way to measure if the project was successful
8. WHAT'S YOUR UNIQUE SELLING POINT
What’s so special about your brand and/or what makes you different/better than your competition. Why should someone pick you over something similar from anyone else
9. BRAND EMOTION
In 3 words describe how you'd like people to feel when they see your brand
10. WHO'S YOUR TARGET MARKET
Who is this product or service for? Remember that if you’re targeting everyone chances are you will reach no one. So make sure to really think about who you’d like to reach. Are they men or women, how old are they? What do they have in common, where do they live and what they like. Be specific, the more precise you are the easier it will be to create a brand that really connects with the right people.
11. KEY COMPETITORS
Are you the first in your field or joining an existing market? Either way, chances are your product will compete either with direct competition or with similar products or services. If you know of any of them write them here. At this stage a list is enough - we will analyse them properly later
12. IF YOUR BRAND WAS A CELEBRITY, WHO WOULD THEY BE
This is a fun little question that helps you realise how you see your brand. It can tell you or your designer things you wouldn’t even think of writing. If there is one person who encapsulates what your brand is all about, who is it?
13. BRAND USAGE
Think about how you will use your brand - where will your branding appear. Will it live mostly online in a tiny space? Or will it be printed on a hoarding? Will you print uniforms or signage with it or will it never really get printed. Different design will work fantastically on an app and absolutely lose its power on the packaging. It will make it easier to judge the design when you know where it will leave
This can have a few meanings and each of them is important
- The first one is purely geographical. Every country or region has its own style and quirks so it can affect how your brand should look to be understood, fit in while standing out for all the right reasons.
- Online or offline - will you sell your things in store or from your site. Are you doing business in person or over the phone. It all matters to how you are designing
List all the things you want to be completed at the end of this process
If in project deliverables you mentioned packaging now is the time to describe this.
- What products will you need packaging for?
- Is it one pack for all your product or separate packs for all?
- What packs are you after? Boxes, bottles, bags or something else?
- How are you going to get them printed? If you are only just starting, it’s worth knowing that some types of packaging require very large orders - an experienced packaging designer will help you navigate this and find ways around it (eg by using stickers or suggesting other formats)
- What will be the role of the packs - are they there to sell the product or only to protect it etc
17. DESIGN DOs
Is there something you love or feel that your brand must have? If you’re working with designers, it’s good to remember that they can’t read your mind. If you are hoping to see something specific or want them to explore it - say so. If you are doing it yourself it’s good to write your ideas straight away to get them out of your mind and to not forget them. Not every idea will work but, sometimes it’s worth exploring things even if only to make sure that they don’t work.
18. DESIGN DON’Ts
As important it is to know the things you want and need it is also good to define things you want to steer clear of. It can be anything from style colours and design elements to more general things such as ‘the design should not be too feminine’
When working with a designer it’s good to show examples of things you like and dislike - brands you love and those you don’t. This is not to be used to copy the style but to demonstrate your taste. While well designed brand will depend on the product, the market and the consumer, it will also represent you so it shouldn’t be something you dislike
When do you need this project to be completed? Even if you’re more flexible with your timings you still should give yourself a timeline to avoid the process to drag. Having the timeline helps you or the company you are working with plan their workload. Write your ideal date and one that is the absolute latest one.
I know that when you start you may not know what the prices are and don’t know what you should be spending. But knowing your budget will allow the design studio to put a proposal of work you can afford. They can remove some bits, change the amount of revisions and tweaks and give you an accurate amount you should expect to pay. Also, it will allow them not to waste your time if you simply can’t afford their services