Garbage in, garbage out. Simply put, the quality of your brief to The Creative (the designer) or creative agency determines the end product. An accurate, detailed and comprehensive written brief is of cardinal importance if you would like to get The Creative down to earth where you can exploit his or her talent. For the best results, follow these easy steps that also contain a skeleton you could add your own muscle to, and pad it to suit your requirements.
Do your homework
Before you write your brief, first do your homework. Surf the Internet, go through specialist publications in your industry, review your competitors’ marketing material and do your research. Assemble a detailed visual compendium in the form of a scrapbook, which you can use as a reference. Rank your competitors in order of market share. Include as much material as possible, such as web pages, advertisements, brandmarks, stationery, brochures, annual reports, pictures of their signage, shop interiors, shelf displays and point-of-sale material. Make sure you get actual samples of the oppositions’ packaged products, if relevant.
This stage is highly critical and you should do it yourself. This will also help you to get a visual overview of what is happening in your industry and help you illustrate your brand’s current or intended position. After your visual branding has been completed, continue updating this scrapbook and monitoring your opposition in this way – it is a very simple and effective tool for staying informed.
How to brief The Suit and The Creative
Garbage in, garbage out. Simply put, the quality of your brief determines the end product. An accurate, detailed and comprehensive written brief is of cardinal importance if you would like to get The Creative (the designer) down to earth where you can exploit his/her/its talent.
The Creative normally has a reputation as a very fickle, emotional, sensitive creature and good ones are protected by The Suit (account executive) and the bosses at creative agencies. In reality, they are prostitutes (graphic designers started life as commercial artists in the previous century), performing a useful service to society. The trick is not to let them know what you think they are, but to assure them they are definitely better at it than your spouse or anybody else for that matter. You should know that The Creative often thinks his or her first name should have been Leonardo or Michelangelo or Vincent or perhaps Pablo.
Here is a skeleton you could add your own muscle to, and pad it to suit your requirements. If you feel you lack the verbal skills, let The Suit – if you are using a creative agency – help you refine it and justify the cost of the fancy ties he is always wearing.
Your product or service
Never assume that The Creative or The Suit knows anything about your company and its products or services. Be clear and concise and avoid jargon. Describe what your company/organisation does and provide your company’s and brand’s history. How does your brand differ from your competitors’ brands and what are your target market’s demographics and psychographics? State the age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography and lifestyle of those you want to reach. If you have multiple audiences, rank them in order of importance.
Make sure you supply as much material as possible about your company’s products or services, such as web pages, advertisements, brandmarks, stationery, brochures, annual reports, and where applicable, pictures of signage, shop interiors, shelf displays, point-of-sale material and packaged products.
Give an overview of the detailed visual compendium you compiled on your competitors when presenting your brief. List all your competitors and their products, services, brands and history. State what you think your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths are, and give their geographical location.
A comparison with other non-related product categories
Let’s assume your aim is to occupy the niche at the very top of its category. Now compare it with a well-known brand you associate it with in other categories. Brands such as Lamborghini, Johnny Walker Black Label, Apple iPod, Armani, Sony, Ducati and AEG immediately come to mind. This will help you and others with aligning and positioning your brand visually. Again, include as much material as possible, such as web pages, advertisements, brandmarks, stationery, brochures, annual reports and, where applicable, pictures of signage, shop interiors, shelf displays, point-of-sale material and packaged products.
The look, feel and tone
Finish the brief by putting into words the overall desired look, feel and tone you require for your brand. Should it be elegant or embody action? Should it look young and progressive or established and solid, formal or playful? Name the qualities you would like to see your brandmark stand for and express visually. This will set the tone for the creative team.
Communicate any dislikes and anything the designer should not do, and point out the styles or elements that you do not like or do not wish to see in your design. This will give The Creative an idea of what not to do and so avoid disappointing you.