As creatives, it’s tempting to jump into a project and immediately start designing. Our minds are nonstop generating ideas, logos, font combinations and color palettes we want to see executed. However, an essential part of our job is helping clients reach goals through a new, refreshed brand. This means taking a step back to discover what the client is really looking for. Here’s why our first step is to talk it out.
The Creative Brief
Our projects typically begin with a creative brief. As a team, we create a list of questions and exercises to help us better understand the end goal of the project. We send these questions for review ahead of time, and talk through their responses in a later meeting. More often than not, multiple members from a client’s team send in answers. A face-to-face or virtual meeting allows us to dive into the nuances of each answer, while carefully considering different thoughts from each party. Every creative brief is tailored to the client and project, so questions will vary. Whether the brief is created for a new restaurant or an album cover, each one pulls out a wealth of information, including logistics, imagination, brand essence, personal preferences and visions for the future.
Asking the Right Questions
While some questions are straightforward, others come across as out of left field. For us, every question leads to an answer that can be interpreted into a visual identity. Here are examples of the types of questions we ask:
These are the straight shooters. They help us solidify a game plan for how to approach the project and reach the end goal. Who is your target audience? Which social media platforms do you leverage? Can you describe the menu to us? Logistical questions are the foundation of our creative briefs and crucial to our full understanding of the task at hand.
Many clients have an idea of how they want their logo to look, but struggle to put exactly what they want into words. Imaginative questions loosen a client up and move them into a creative frame of mind. If your brand was a charm bracelet, what charms would be represented? If your brand was an animal, what would it be and why? Quick! List the five words that first pop into your mind when you think of your brand. These questions may seem silly at first, but our goal is to spin the wheels of their imagination while gaining short insights into how they think.
BRAND ESSENCE QUESTIONS
No matter the project, it’s important to understand what the brand is (or wants to be) at its core. What are some authentic descriptors of your brand? What is the x-factor that sets you apart? What is the main message you want to communicate to your audience? What are the core values of your company? Brand essence questions reveal important pillars and key messages that need to be communicated visually.
Sometimes, personal preferences can come into play. We like to dig deeper into our clients’ interests to see what might influence our work down the line. Which brands do you admire? Are there elements from the old brand you want to carry into a new brand? Are there any elements (fonts, colors, shapes) or characteristics (western, upscale, etc) we should completely avoid? Personal opinions may not seem relevant at first, but they help create a brand system to fit both wants and needs.
We like to think ahead. What do you envision for the brand’s future? How will the brand evolve over the next few years? How would you like your audience to perceive the brand five years from now? The key to an outstanding brand is longevity. We want to understand the future of your company so we can create visuals that withstand the test of time.
There are No Wrong Answers
For a creative brief to be successful and advantageous for our team, client participation is crucial. Creative vulnerability can be intimidating at first, but without it, your project might not turn out how you imagined. We want answers no matter what form they come in because they are the catalyst of the project, pushing us to move in the right creative direction. The more you share with us upfront, the more likely we are to create an end deliverable that fits your needs and exceeds your expectations.