Motivational speaker and American author Zig Ziglar stated, “your output can only be as good as your input.” While Ziglar used the phrase at the time regarding personal goals, the saying is now used across multiple scenarios and could not be truer when it comes to creating a creative brief for designers.
The design project – the ‘output’ – will only ever be as good as the creative brief – the ‘input’.
This is because design is subjective. To better understand what’s best for the target market and what the client actually likes and wants, design teams need a clear and detailed creative brief so that they can get it right the first time.
The creative team at Relevance works with some of the world’s most luxurious brands, with a robust creative brief sitting at the heart of every creative project.
Our creative director, Frances Martin-Isaacs, explores how to create a good creative brief, including the benefits of a creative brief and what a good creative brief should look like.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief serves as a blueprint for creative projects and is prepared by the client in collaboration with the creative director and project manager to guide the creative team, including designers and writers. It includes details on key elements of the project, including deliverables, communication objectives, target audience, budget and timelines.
Why do design teams need a creative brief?
A creative brief is a project plan for the creative team. The interesting thing about design is that when it is just right, the result often looks really easy and obvious. The reality is, to create a design that is ‘just right’ for the project, the creative team needs to understand the project, the final placement or usage of the deliverables, the client’s unique business and brand, and also the client as a person – with their unique perspective and desires.
Because design is both objective and subjective, creatives need to understand and agree with the client on what their subjective input is as part of the creative direction before the designers get to work.
Our aim as designers is to not only understand logical,
objective technical requirements but also understand the client’s subjective, personal preferences.
What are the key features of a creative brief?
A creative brief will outline several key elements, including:
- The Project Overview: This provides the creative team with a concise summary of the project, including the client’s background, business objectives, target audience, and the purpose or goal of the project.
- Deliverables: This section outlines the specific deliverables, such as a logo design, website, brand copy, or social media content, providing clarity on the scope of work and specific requirements.
- Communication Objectives: This outlines the core messages that need to be communicated and defines the desired outcomes. For example, does the project hope to boost brand awareness, is it to promote a new product, or is it to educate the target audience?
- Target Audience: It’s really important that the target audience is clearly defined to help the creative team tailor their work effectively to reach and resonate with the desired audience. At Relevance, we specialise in targeting HNW & UHNW audiences, but even within these ultra-niche audiences, there are multiple personas with differing consumer and lifestyle habits.
- Call to action – What is it that the brand wants people to do once they interact with the finished creative product?
- Tone and Brand Guidelines: Understanding tone and brand guidelines, as well as the personality of the brand, is essential for guiding the creative team to ensure consistency with an established brand identity.
- Budget and Timelines: The creative brief should include the budget and expected timelines, including how the work will be evaluated and approved. A clear budget and timeline can help manage expectations and ensure a smooth workflow from concept development to final delivery.
What is the first step in preparing a creative brief?
The first step to creating a creative brief is to create a clear outline of the project, establishing the scope of the project, intended audience, goals, deliverables, budget and timelines.
Relevance’s creative team starts the creative brief process with a meeting with the client. We may ask the client the same questions as they have already been asked by the sales team or the project managers; however this time, the aim is to build rapport and to gain a better understanding and feel for the client’s personal preferences, ideas and what they expect to see.
Our clients are luxury business owners who may not be used to thinking in a creative way. Often they know their business so well, there are details that they don’t think to mention that can really help us. This is where our creative team has the challenge of extracting and defining the creative brief, and often, the client may need some pointers.
A blank canvas is a creative’s dream…
The reality is that decisions for the direction of work have to be made before we work on the canvas.
What are the benefits of a creative brief?
The key benefit of a good brief is that it prevents mistakes. We usually calculate the cost of a job based on time. An important business goal for Relevance is to be as efficient as possible, so every bit of time we can save is essential, efficiently adding value for our clients every step of the way.
Logos and website pages are charged in rounds of design. A client may purchase two rounds of design at a time. If we don’t get it right within those two rounds we may have an unhappy customer, but we will also have an unhappy profit and loss statement.
This limits the time allowed for ‘experimentation’. We need to know quite precisely which direction the creatives are heading in before we begin work.
Our goal as designers is to get it right the first time!
We avoid using design time as a whiteboard.
Should a mood board be part of the creative process?
A mood board is certainly a useful tool for the creative process and can form part of the creative brief.
Depending on the project scope, Relevance’s creative time may ask the client to collect ideas of what they like and don’t like as inspiration for our design team. If the client is not able to do this, our creative team may provide this to give the client a steer, so that they can make choices before the design work begins.
Pinterest is a great resource to suggest to clients as a way to collate their inspiration.
How can Relevance’s creative team help?
Relevance is a luxury creative and digital marketing agency that specialises in crafting compelling campaigns for the world’s most luxurious brands targeting UHNWIs.
Before the team at Relevance begins any design work, we always work with the client to develop a robust creative brief by collating all the discoveries during the planning process into one document for all involved in the project to refer to.
The creative brief is signed-off by the client, and our team regularly refers to the brief to ensure our work meets expectations. If the brief needs to change, we can calculate a new scope of work and quote.
If you would like to learn more about our creative services and how we help luxury brands reach and resonate with the world’s most affluent audiences, contact our team.