A creative brief, also called a design brief, is a set of specifications for a design that you want to create. It includes sections like: the purpose of the design, the dimensions of the images, what kind of file type you need, etc. The brief makes it clear to your designer exactly what they need to produce for you.
If you’ve never worked with a designer before, you may not be sure the best way to describe your project to them and may not know which details you should include to get a design that fits your vision. Even if you have an in-house designer or have worked with designers before, using a creative brief can streamline communication as well as make it easier for new designers to get up to speed with your company’s brand style.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A CREATIVE BRIEF
Your creative brief should focus on the outcome of your design rather than the aesthetics of your design. You should allow the designer to use their skills to create something that is individual to your business. However, you should try to provide your designer with as much background information as possible.
Don’t assume that a freelance designer knows about your company’s style. Introduce your business so that they have some idea of your expectations. Give them a clear idea about what your company does so that they can create images that are relevant to your niche. Make sure your designer understands the goals of the design and also understands the products or services that you offer.
BENEFITS OF USING A CREATIVE BRIEF
Using a creative brief will help you save a lot of time in the long run, especially when working with multiple designers. You will be able to avoid chatting back and forth discussing basic details if they are clearly written in a brief.
Your designer can help you add to your creative brief by asking you relevant questions and by including information such as the color palette, fonts, tone of voice, etc. that they’ve used in previous designs. This document will become particularly valuable to future designers as they will be able to start from a specific structure and be able to create images that are consistent with your existing designs.
HOW LONG SHOULD A DESIGNER TAKE TO CREATE A DESIGN?
We’ve found through our own experiences working both with in-house designers and freelance designers that they tend to do best when you give specific deadlines rather than asking them “how long” it will take them to complete a certain project. If you’re not sure how long something should take, you could try asking anyone that you know in a relevant business for an estimate of the amount of time that would be appropriate for the specific task. Even so, consider how long it takes to create a painting. A painting can take an hour or a year, depending on the artist’s vision.
Giving a concrete time frame can help the designer to craft an image that fits in with your company’s budget. Skilled designers work quickly and should be able to give you a rough draft in as little as an hour. In fact, this is often how we’ve worked with freelance designers. You can pay them for one hour of their time to create a rough draft. Then you can review it and decide whether what they created matches your expectations before hiring them for the full job.
By the same token, don’t get too hung up on the hourly cost of a designer. We’ve found that we’ve actually saved money working with a more expensive designer. Experienced designers can often be much faster to catch on to your vision and create something that you really love and want to use over and over again. Visual elements in your blog posts and social media are extremely important in crafting your brand’s identity and finding a good designer can make a big difference in the impact that your images have on your audience.
WHAT SECTIONS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE DESIGN BRIEF
Included in the SOP provided above are various sections that you need to fill out before you pass the creative brief document to your designer. The first section includes the client information. Even if your organization is small or you are bootstrapping a business, including the Client Information section is an easy way for the designer to know who to contact and who to pass the files to once the design is complete.
The Client Information section also helps designers who are working on multiple projects to keep things in order. Staying organized helps projects be more cost-effective as you won’t waste time or resources passing questions back and forth or digging around for files and information about a project in the future. Everything is laid out clearly in the creative brief document and the designer can get started with the actual design work right away instead of coming back to the project manager with a list of questions.
The next section that you’ll need to include is the Project Overview. This section includes information about which platform the design will be used for (Instagram, blog, printed flyer, etc.) along with any details about the project that may be relevant such as whether the design is going to be part of a marketing kit for a specific product or if the project is ongoing. If you’re unsure about some of the details, don’t get too hung up on this section. This should just be a brief, quick and dirty overview of how you’re going to use the designs. You can add more details as the project progresses and the brief will become even more useful for subsequent projects.
The next section included in the SOP download is the Purpose of your design. In this section you should describe what you want your designer to achieve once the product is complete. For example, you may be creating social media images for a campaign to sell a specific product in which case you should include detailed information about the product.
Target Audience is the next section of the design brief. Here you will include details about who the images are meant for. If you’ve created a target avatar before, you should pass this information to your designer so that they can adjust the style of the design to match the interests of that audience. If you haven’t created a target avatar or brand style guide, here is our Brand Style Guide template which includes a section on defining your target audience.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE “DELIVERABLES” SECTION OF THE DESIGN BRIEF
The next section of the creative brief template is about the deliverables. Deliverables in short just means what stuff the designer is going to pass back to you when they are finished with the design. Clarify to your designer the dimensions of your design as well as what file types (PNG, JPG, etc.) you need with the working files. As a rule, you should ask your designer for the working files for any design. The working files are the files the designer has used to create the design such as Photoshop files, Adobe Illustrator files, etc.
These files are valuable to you because in the future, if you work with a different designer, they will have the option to start with the existing working files as a template to create any new images that you may want to look similar to your current images. The working files also make it possible for you to change text or adjust parts of the design in the future if you decide you want to just tweak a design rather than have somebody go back and create a new design from scratch.
DESCRIBING YOUR BRAND’S STYLE AND TONE GUIDELINES
In the next section, Style and Tone, you should detail your brand style such as the colors that you want to use, font styles, and text that you want to include. To make things easier, you can create a brand book. If you haven’t done this already, you can go to our Style Guide SOP and create your own using the template provided. This will become a valuable resource for yourself, your team members and your freelancers so that you can all stay on the same page regarding your brand’s style. Consistency is crucial in creating a clear brand identity and a brand book can be an invaluable way to maintain that consistency.
The designer should also know the tone of voice that they should use or the tone that your images should reflect. Ask yourself questions such as: Is the tone formal or more relaxed? Do you want to use humor or should the designs convey a more serious tone? Is the content edgy or should it be family-friendly?
No doubt before you hand over this design brief, you’ll have seen other websites and social media content that have inspired you. You should include this information in the Resources section at the end of your design brief. Add links to designs that you like, existing designs from your company, links to your brand book or Style Guide, links to information about your target audience, links to your social media channels and whatever else will help you designer successfully complete this project.You may also detail how your business differs from your competitors so that your designer can create something unique for your brand.
WRITING THE PERFECT CREATIVE BRIEF
The SOP provided is completely editable so you can add any additional sections that you think will be useful to your designer. The more you work with these briefs, the more efficient you will become and the more complete they will be.
Record questions the designer asks you throughout the design process and use this information to create an even more detailed Creative Brief the next time around. Even if you are a small or medium-sized business, you should aim to create detailed documentation as if you are a million-dollar business. Creating this documentation may feel tedious and unnecessary at first, but as you grow you will realize how critical it is to scaling your business quickly.
Using a creative brief can help you feel more confident and appear more professional while working with designers. We hope this SOP template proves an invaluable resource for crafting designs that you love. Good luck!