Learning how to work well with clients is essential to any commercial creative business. Terry Lee Stone’s new two-part book series, Managing The Design Process — Concept Development and Implementing Design — offers insights and guidance on how to take projects from initial concept to successful completion. The intricate collaborative partnership between designer and client must begin with an articulated set of objectives and goals. There needs to be a summary of all the factors that can impact a design project. In other words, a creative brief.
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What’s a creative brief?
In the best cases, a creative brief is a document created through initial meetings, interviews, readings and discussions between a client and designer before any work begins. Throughout the project, the creative brief continues to inform and guide the work. A good creative brief will answer these questions:
• What is this project?
• Who is it for?
• Why are we doing it?
• What needs to be done? By whom? By when?
• Where and how will it be used?
The 10 most important things to include in a creative brief
1. Background Summary: Who is the client? What is the product or service? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (or SWOTs) involved with this product or service? Are there existing research, reports and other documents that help you understand the situation?
2. Overview: What is the project? What are we designing and why? Why do we need this project? What’s the opportunity?
3. Drivers: What is our goal for this project? What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of our work? What are our top three objectives?
4. Audience: Who are we talking to? What do they think of us? Why should they care?
5. Competitors: Who is the competition? What are they telling the audience that we should be telling them? SWOT analysis on them? What differentiates us from them?
6. Tone: How should we be communicating? What adjectives describe the feeling or approach?
7. Message: What are we saying with this piece exactly? Are the words already developed or do we need to develop them? What do we want audiences to take away?
8. Visuals: Are we developing new images or picking up existing ones? If we are creating them, who/what/where are we photographing or illustrating? And why?
9. Details: Any mandatory information that must be included? List of deliverables? Preconceived ideas? Format parameters? Limitations and restrictions? Timeline, schedule, budget?
10. People: Who are we reporting to? Who exactly is approving this work? Who needs to be informed of our progress? By what means?
Terry Lee Stone is a Los Angeles-based creative manager and writer. She teaches the business of design at Art Center College of Design. The author of several books on design, her recent series is called Managing The Design Process, published by Rockport Publishers. Visit her website; buy her books here or at your favorite bookseller.
Chart graphic by AdamsMorioka from Managing The Design Process: Concept Development by Terry Lee Stone, from Rockport Publishers