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Written by: Team AMDM

How to write a creative brief

Outline guide by Anthony K Morris | AMDM

Anthony Morris Creative Director

“A well thought out brief is essential for successful and effective design-marketing projects. With over 20 years of brand experience as Creative Director and Designer I outline here the basic requirments on how to write one… before we delve in – be prepared to invest time in this, there are no short cuts. The better researched and clearer the objectives – the better chance of success.”

 

1. Be short

Briefs need to be just that – brief.

Try and avoid over complicating the project – precision is key. You may have a written a draft that is 8-pages long… edit it down to one single A4 page (no more than two pages at most). Trying to keep the attention of a large team with a 20-page brief that also includes a 1hr PowerPoint presentation, will guarantee to put most people to sleep. Endless graphs have no place here.

 

2. Be clear and precise

Outline clearly what your objectives are. Where you are now and were you want to be.

One of my clients brought in a chilled meat product, they were selling via supermarket deli-counters. The brief was verbal but precise… “can you design a new branded chilled meat pack, one that appeals to a much larger audience – for people who don’t want to queue at the deli-counter?” A detailed written brief followed, but the key objectives were clearly defined!

 

3. Detail the challenge(s)

Most briefs are about solving problems and providing solutions. For example, re-booting an existing packaging design. The driving force for the re-design could be that the existing pack no longer appeals to the target audience, it has become dated and out of touch with a new generation of buyers (sales are starting to fall). The challenge is keeping hold of your market share, the solution …updating the packaging design and re-positioning to appeal to a new generation of consumer. A larger new serving suggestion, with a contempoary brand logo refresh – the only changes needed. Radical redesigns typically kill the brand equity, built up over years by tens of thousands of loyal customers, repeat buying week after week, year after year.

 

4. Position it, target it

Who buys it, where is it sold and when. It may be a technical brief that solves a challenging packaging process, but on the most part design and marketing briefs target specific audiences via tried and tested sales channels. Knowing who your audience is key, their age, gender, income, location, buying habits.

 

5. Detail the competition

Rarely do you have the luxury of operating a business without competition, direct or indirect. List who they are, what they do well and were you think there is an opportunity.

 

6. Share the brief

Before you call your Agency make sure you have consulted colleagues, they may have items to add or have a unique perspective. A team effort will get the best possible outcome.

 

7. Make sure you can measure the results

Briefs should include a way of measuring success i.e., what are the existing response rates for your email campaigns – what level of increase would signal success. The number of extra product units shifted per month. The overall turnover of sales per year for a given brand product range. The number of people who are aware of your brand. The umber of qualified enquiries you receive per month.

 

8. Deadline & Budget

We want it by the end of the week… but is it realistic, what are the deadlines – are they non-negotiable i.e., tradeshow, Ad publication or a new product launch. Allow sufficient time for your project to run its course.

If budgets are tight then make this clear from the beginning. Where possible, I recommend clients only proceed with projects that have a solid brief with fixed fee attached – all elements costed in advance with any overspend discussed and approved. This is not always possible, briefs change and adapt, Agencies could be on yearly retainers, others charge by the hour or per project.

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Conclusion

Writing a creative brief can be difficult, talk to designers and marketeers who you feel you can work with, choose experienced designers …most will talk and guide you through elements you have missed. Following this guide, will help you formulate a solid creative brief. If you manage to get it all on a single page of A4 …you have most probably given your Agency the best start they need.

It is the job of the designer or marketing team to interpret the brief and present the best solution for market success (and that includes plenty of research and creative thinking).

Updated: 11th July 2023

“With over 20 years of brand design experience I can safely say most design agencies are guilty of starting the creative process far too soon – the brief and research are two of the most crucial steps in any design project.”

Anthony Morris | AMDM – Creative Director, Brand Design & Marketing

 

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