How to Write a Creative Brief

Don't forget this essential step in the design process! A well written creative brief can save you hours of revisions and lead to happier clients. Read the full post to learn how to write one!

This past week I have been taking you through the first phase of my logo design process. This phase is not the most glamorous, but it is definitely the most important because this is when the entire design scope and direction is determined. I start with a detailed branding questionnaire where I have my client tell me about their business, their design needs, and what their goals are. Then, we collaborate on a beautiful inspiration board that expresses their vision for their brand. This is the point where many designers jump in and start designing for their client. But they are forgetting the final piece of this phase: the creative brief.

What is a Creative Brief?

A Creative Brief is a summary of your clients design needs and a plan for how you will address those needs. For designers, taking the time to create a detailed plan will result in fewer revisions and will also give you discussion points when presenting designs to your client (e.g. “Do you think this design addresses the objectives we outlined in the creative brief?”). 

What to Include in a Creative Brief

My Creative Brief has 5 major sections: Business Details, Audience, Competition, Goals, and Design Tone.

Business Details
What products or services do they provide?
What motivated your client to start their business? 

Who are your clients current customers?
Are there other customers that they would like to reach? Who are they?
What do their customers need? How does their business fulfill those needs?
How could they be better at fulfilling their customers needs?
What design solutions will help your client to better appeal to their ideal customer?

Who is their main competitor?
How do they stand apart from their competition?
What design solutions will help your client to stand out from their competition?

Where does your client see their business in 5-10 years?
What are their major business goals?
What design solutions will help them to achieve those goals?

Design Tone
What elements or colors should be included in their brand?
What elements or colors should be excluded from their brand?
What is the overall style of their brand?
*Include the Mood Board in this section

These 5 sections are a good foundation for a Creative Brief, but you are free to include anything that is helpful to you and your client. The purpose of this document is to set clear expectations and connect design objectives with strategies. 

How to use a creative brief

Writing a creative brief is a good way to wrap up the first phase of the design process. It guarantees that you and your client are on the same page before any design work begins.

Another great benefit of writing a creative brief comes when you present designs to your client. Too often designers assume that their clients will recognize "good" design when they see it, so they don't spend any time selling the benefits of their designs. These presentations quickly devolve into the designer asking "Do you like it?" and then the client giving unhelpful feedback. Compare this to a designer who took the time to write a creative brief. This designer knows exactly what their clients goals are so in presentations they ask questions like "Does this design appeal to your target audience?" Now their client can give them great feedback about how the design could be improved to better appeal to their audience.

Adding creative briefs to your design process will instantly make you a better, more professional designer. 

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Now that you and your client are in complete agreement about the design direction, it is time to sketch! Next week I will be sharing my all-time favorite sketching tip, so stay posted.

Do you write a creative brief as part of your design process? Tell me what you include in the comments!