The important brief

A little text about another little text that makes your work so much easier.

What exactly is a letter? And why should you spend time on this when all you want to do is draw? Appropriate questions, absolutely. But here’s how: With a brief, you and your client determine the end goal, i.e. where you are going with your campaign, product or design. If you don’t know, there may be a difference of opinion as to whether your work turned out well and works, and most importantly, it’s a great tool to help you get there and make your job easier.

A good brief is simple

A brief is a short (!) summary of the task you are to perform. It’s like a little map where you can orientate yourself to make sure you go in the right direction and get to the place the customer wants. It may sound complicated but make no mistake: a brief is one of the conditions that can simplify and speed up your work the most, and we like simple and fast, don’t we? It is not complicated at all.

Here is a suggested letter that I use. And – we don’t have to call it a letter if you don’t want to. Think of it as a… basis, only: Questions that you can ask your client before the start of the project. Compile the answers and send for approval before you start working to get where the brief says you should be.

customers

Who are you creating for? Brand, values, attitude – important to know to ensure your work reflects who they are.

Background

What is the game plan and what is your mission? There may also be a problem listed here, which you should help to solve.

Objective

Here is the crux of the matter. What should your design achieve or do? Make sure you respond to this throughout your creative process.

Competitors or positioning

Sometimes it can be relevant to include how your customer or the product in question differs (or wants to differ) from the competition in the industry.

The target group

This is a well-worn and perhaps not always entirely relevant point, but in broad terms it is of course important for you to know roughly who is the recipient of what you are doing. Whether they are children or graduates in their 50s, there is a certain difference.

The message

This is the crux of the matter – what are you trying to convey? What should the recipient take away?

Written in stone

Yes, it’s a weird title but I came up with it in the moment, feel free to change it, but non-negotiables should be written down here. What does the customer absolutely want you to do/use and not? Colors, shape, tone, etc. should be written down here so you have a solid external framework for your work.

Timetable

Deadlines, milestones and other tight time targets should be written down here.

Yeah, that’s about it? You can certainly get a much more detailed brief than this, and if you’re working with other stakeholders (copywriters, designers, creative directors, etc.), the brief can be about more than just what you’re doing – it can be about a whole campaign with KPIs and other ways of measuring whether or not the goal has been achieved. However, if you are working freelance on behalf of a client for a specific assignment, the above questions should cover most of it.

And you – you don’t have to make it so formal. It’s not about HERE COMES THE CRITICAL LETTER FILL IT IN LIKE A THOUSAND OR I WON’T EVEN LIFT THE PEN, it’s just about having a common understanding of what you’re going to do and achieve. Some customers are large organizations that eat, sleep and shit briefs. Others are small business owners who are intimidated by the very word because they think it consumes a lot of time, is super complicated and shows that you are an expensive and cumbersome supplier. Nothing could be more wrong, but that is why it is important to keep it simple and clear.

So to summarize:

The letter gives you a sporting opportunity to verify that you have succeeded in your mission, and this is appreciated by creators. We are used to the fact that the quality or usefulness of our work is difficult to assess because it is “arbitrary” or “subjective”. But if your work meets the brief, it means that you have not only created something stylish, innovative or unique, but also actual benefit (i.e. money in) for your client, according to their own definition. And it’s worth a lot.

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