“If I build a house, do I need a blueprint or should I just wing it? “
This question may seem a bit odd as building a house is a complex project that requires advance preparation and planning. Having a house built can be an overwhelming experience. However, if you have a blueprint and hire the right professionals to execute the job, the project should run smoothly. The same can be said for hiring a graphic designer when you need to have a brand, document or social media graphics created. However, instead of a blueprint, you will need a creative brief.
What is a creative brief? The creative brief a document needed at the beginning of a project which outlines the information required in order for the graphic designer to execute the project. The name is a bit misleading as the creative brief is anything but brief. As a graphic designer, having a comprehensive brief is essential in order to better understand the project. The brief serves as the foundation for the project, much like the foundation of a house.
What is the end goal of the creative brief
Start with why. What are the client’s problems are you trying to solve? What transformative experience are you hoping to provide your client? The creative brief defines the objective of the project and clarifies what deliverables are expected. With a holistic approach and knowing what is the end goal of the project can help solve the client’s problem. In turn, this will ensure a successful project and positive experience.
Information needed, please
So what information should make up the brief? Depending on the project, the information provided can vary. Let’s go over a few parameters:
About the client
When meeting a new client, a graphic designer needs to know who you are, what services does the business provides, which clients they serve and the sector they are in. The first meeting is an opportunity to get know each other and should result in a fruitful discussion.
Is the project intended for print or for online viewing? Each output comes with its own set of parameters, including a particular colour space and image dimension and resolution. If the incorrect parameters are provided, the project will require additional time for modification and can alter the look of the project. What type of document format do you require? A pdf document or do the images need to be used for various social media? This information is important to have as this sets up the document for proper output.
Moodboard or any visuals
Graphic designers are very visual, so receiving a collection of images can help communicate what is the specific look you are looking for. Is there a particular theme to the project? Reference material can serve as a jumping off point.
If you have a well established brand with specific brand guidelines, any additional collateral that needs to be designed will have to have the same look. After all, visual consistency across different touch point show a solid brand. Having brand guidelines can also eliminate certain decisions for the graphic designer so that they can focus on other aspects of the design process.
Having a clear idea of who your target audience is an important parameter to the project. The more details about the target audience, who they are and what are the problems they are trying to solve in their lives is a reminder of who the client is serving. In turn, the project’s intentions are defined and will help to attract the target audience.
Clear expectation of when the deliverables should be completed helps the graphic designer to assess if there is enough time to create the project. For larger projects, setting up milestones can keep the project on track. Using vague terms like ASAP (as soon as possible) or Urgent will depend on the graphic designer schedule which may not work with the client’s schedule. ASAP and Urgent are vague deadlines and should be avoided. Instead, set a date and time as to when the project should be delivered. Also, allow for a buffer in case of unexpected delays.
Additional questions may arise before the beginning of the project, so remaining open to answering these question will ensure a fruitful collaboration. If a clear creative brief is provided at the start of any a project, you eliminate the risk of wasting time, effort and money trying to correct the project later. Most importantly, the project will run smoothly. To sum up, the creative brief is an essential document for your next design project. After all, if you build a home with a shaky foundation, the home will fall apart and you can’t paint on walls that can fall. The same applies for any project.