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What is a Creative Brief?

Graphic Designer Cape Town South Africa Creative Brief

What is a Creative Brief?

In a nutshell, a design brief is the set of instructions and / or project requirements a client gives a designer at the start of a project.

At the very least, a brief must include the specs (size, format, application, etc.), but design is not just about making things look good. It’s usually about solving some kind of problem, and so when everyone involved understands the real goals behind the new logo or website, it helps narrow down the possibilities and provide focus.

Projects with detailed briefs are not only more likely to achieve their goals, but they usually require fewer revisions, and are therefore far more likely to be completed on time, and within the specified budget.


A good brief should cover as many of the following points as possible:

1. Company profile (company history, current market position, your unique selling propositions)
2. Objectives (for the Company and project)
3. Competitors
4. Target audience (the people you are trying to reach and engage)
5. The overall message for the project
6. Deliverables
7. Mandatory elements (e.g. logo, contact details etc.)
8. Benchmarks (examples of what other people are doing – what you think works and what doesn’t)
9. Timeline (i.e. do you have days, or months to do this project? This will affect what options you have available)
10. Budget (this can be sensitive, but knowing this will allow your designer to advise you on where to save money)
11. Stakeholders (how many people need to sign off on the project)

Having this information written down in one place also allows the designer to determine whether the scope of work is feasible given the timeline and budget specified, and once the work begins it serves as a point of reference for everyone involved.

It is precisely for these reasons that well-known designers such as UK-based Daivid Airey use creative briefs. See some of his tips (here and here) on how to write a good brief.

What’s wrong with an iterative approach?

Agile or Iterative Project Management is a time-consuming and resource-intensive approach often used in software or product development where the brief essentially evolves along with the project, due to the necessity of customer or end user feedback.

While it has its place in a research and development environment, the iterative approach is not at all efficient or cost-effective for most design projects.

Remember your content!

So you’ve put together a comprehensive brief – great! Now what about your content? Every project needs text and images to tell the story. Your designer will weave their magic to make your content look awesome and engage your audience, and if you need help with your content they should be able to offer help or advice. For some of my tips on where to find high quality images for your design project, check out my post called How to Source Images for your Website.

Got anything to add?

If you would like to share any thoughts or insights on the topic, please leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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