Why we send clients a creative brief and why it’s important

2nd October 2017

If you don’t know the objectives, how are we suppose to? Investing time in the brief will achieve greater results!

We work with clients of all shapes and sizes, some of them have dedicated marketing teams whilst others will rely on the support of a marketing consultant or even manage it all themselves. Now, creative briefs have always been a crucial step for any design project. However, we’re finding recently that clients have either a lack of understanding for what they want / need or are just simply struggling to find time to do any work on them. Briefs can be time consuming but sometimes are a must for the success of a project. There are those projects of course where a quick chat or email will suffice, these are generally much simpler recurring projects, a branding or video job is certainly not one of those projects. Whenever we feel the information received lacks substance, or we just want a bit more clarity, we’ll send out a brief and expect the information back to be comprehensive. When a client fills out the brief and returns it, we’re not only able to quote on the project accurately but also understand the nature of project in more detail. Everyone is working from the same page and nobody is second-guessing anything. It should be viewed helpful and not a hindrance.

Below are some key points why a creative brief is crucial for the successful creation of any marketing materials, some of the information below has been extracted from ‘workfront.com’ for the benefit of this post:

You’ve probably heard this one. The work is only as good as the brief: If your brief is poor and lacks any real detail or insight then the creative won’t be great. It is our job to ask lots of questions of course, but us designers can’t design something we don’t fully understand. A good brief will detail things like the problem the client is trying to solve, the objectives and expectations. It may provide insight on what their vision is, which we’ll then be able to determine whether it’s realistic in terms of budget etc. This is where we’ll be able to add more value to the project as well, the brief should only be the starting point. We’ll endeavour to go beyond the brief so it’s in the clients interest to invest a bit of time in it. You’ll get the best from us that’s for sure. Generally when a project fails, it’s because there was little or no brief in the first place. Thankfully we can list those projects on the back of our hand.

A comprehensive brief will inevitably shorten the time it takes to turn the project around.  It’s a document that ensures clear and thorough communication at the beginning of the design process, limiting the inevitable revisions and corrections that are a natural by-product of poor planning. It will also minimise the need for countless telephone conversations or secondary meetings to discuss  the project in more depth before it’s started.

The approval process will be quicker.  Unclear goals and objectives combined with vague statements like, “I’d like a really clean-looking design for this brochure,” or “we need a stand designed for an exhibition, here’s the spec” or “we want to refresh the brand because it looks out dated” are all too common.  Working with management/clients during the briefing process ensures clarity, which will reduce conflicts during the review and approval process.  And then, when a concept is produced with the ultimate business objective front of mind, presenting ideas and giving rationale on the visuals becomes easier. There is always a reason why we do something, it’s not just to look pretty but we need to firstly understand what we are doing it for.

The end product will be better and more effective. At Frost Creative we always strive to deliver effective design. There’s no point doing it if it’s not going to make a difference to our clients business or product, but to achieve this you need a well written brief. Understanding what the objectives are and what the client expectations are up front is important.

Marketing teams need to be accountable. For every project there must be an objective; be that a branding project, an exhibition, video or direct mail. Every bit of content produced these days can be tracked through a code, followed via analytics, measured through an open rate and monitored via views and downloads.  Like never before, marketing  projects must demonstrate their contribution in achieving business objectives.  A creative brief that clearly articulates those objectives serves as an anchor for us not to stray away from what is important.

Whether you work within a marketing department, or are a consultant or marketing agency you need to provide us with as much detail as possible. It is in the clients best interest to ensure they fill out a creative brief when we send one. The result is always a better, more effective piece of work. The whole process runs smoother and the client / agency relationship will inevitably be more trusted.