Lorraine Carter

16 tips to writing a hot design brief to get the biggest bang for your buck

Over the years I have seen a lot of different brand design briefs of all shapes and sizes from the brilliant to simply dreadful, with too many in-between lacking sufficient substance to really get the best potential return for the resources invested.

Why is the brand design brief so important? This might sound obvious, but you need to know what you’re aiming for to hit the goal ! In short it’s a critical factor in ensuring your brand design project is successful and you get a real return on your investment.

Think who, what, where, when, why and how? Your brief should be, to some extent, an extension of your business strategy. It should reflect the desired commercial endeavours of your business and provide all the detailed information necessary to understand your business dynamics in depth and should clearly define the results you want to achieve i.e. the commercial objectives of the project.

In many cases over the years we’ve had to write the client brief, following in-depth discussions, questioning and probing, to ensure project clarity on all fronts, which the client has then endorsed and signed off before the project commences.

The following are some tips on how, and what to include, to write a great brand design brief so you can get the best return for your money. The questions posed should give you roughly 80% of your brief content with the remainder resulting from and thorough an in-depth discussion with your chosen brand design agency.

1. What does your business/organisation do?

Be clear and concise, providing as much detail as possible. Avoid industry jargon and don’t assume your chosen brand design company knows your company or market intimately.

2. What are your business/organisation goals and why?

How do these goals relate to the brand design project ?

3. What are your primary communication objectives and why?

Are your trying to create greater brand/product awareness or sell more product?

4. How do you differ from your competitors?

Be objective and tangible in the description of your differences. What are their advantages and disadvantages compared to your business/product/organisation?

 5. Do you have industry, market or category insights?

Are they up-to-date ? It is essential to share this information with your brand design partners so they can develop an in-depth understanding of your needs. Have you completed formal/informal market research into to your market, product etc. ?

6. Do you need brand profiling and positioning work?

This will provide the strategic direction for your marketing activities, distinction within your business’s market and drive the inspiration for the creative delivery of your marketing messages.

7. Are you revamping, relaunching your business/product/organisation or launching a completely new product/venture to market?

If revamping or relaunching, how does your old offering compare with the new? Does your brand/business/product/organsiation have an existing brand style guide?

8. Who is your primary target market?

What are their demographics and psychographics? Describe them in detail. If you have a secondary market or multiple audiences? List them in terms of priority.

 9. Have you considered the text content required for your project?

Do you need professional copywriting input? How many languages do you need and do you need professional translation services? A printed brochure or website will have an entirely different requirement and writing style to a brand packaging design project. Compile some raw copy where possible, even in short bullet form, to give some indication of your text content requirements.

10. Does your business, industry, market or organization have legal mandatory information which must be included in all your communications?

Does your product or market have mandatory information such as colour coding which must be used in specific ways, on or in, your communications e.g. European egg packaging has EU colour coding for designated egg sizes ? If so, it is essential you provide all this information fully proofed, up front with clear guidelines on usage.

11. Do you need commissioned professional photography or illustration?

Does your project have specific visual content which should be included? If so why and what is it?

12. What is the full remit of your brand design requirements?

Does it have a printed requirement (product design, stationery, brochures, display or exhibition stands, vehicle livery, direct mail, packaging, point of sale etc. all of which is your brand collateral) ? Does it have an online marketing requirement (website, ezine newsletter, Facebook presence, LinkedIn presence, Twitter etc.) ? Do you need a branded digital showreel, video or sales presentation using, for example, Power Point or Keynote?

13. Do you have industry or market category benchmarks?

If so what are they ? Are these industry, cultural or category standards? Your brand design team needs to know as much as possible to understand what is mandatory, what has worked/not worked to date and where they can aim to exceed and excel, to be distinctly different for long term competitive advantage.

14. Do you need market research or focus group activity to test your new brand design outputs?

Don’t proceed with your launch on a hunch or worse still, your own personal preferences. Your personal preferences are not relevant if they don’t mirror those of your target market and even if they do you should still test and measure!

15. What is your budget?

Your chosen brand design experts need to know what your limitations and budget boundaries are to avoid a valuable waste of time and resources. They need to understand where and how they can achieve the best return for your money.

16. What is your lead time or deadline for launch to market?

Develop a detailed schedule with key milestones indicated e.g. consultation, concept development, market research, testing, photography, production, delivery and launch to market etc. Be realistic in your expectations. Unnecessary mistakes can be made if a complex project is rushed to market prematurely. Alternatively if the project must hit the market by a critical date then be upfront and honest. Some elements may need to be dropped or postponed to another occasion and a simpler solution offered to meet the deadline.

If you need a new name for a product, business or organization most of this information is just as essential for a brand name origination brief too. 

Tip:
Try not to be too prescriptive on the aesthetic aspects of the brand design brief. You want to get the best out of your chosen brand design team so you need to give them room to manoeuvre creatively.

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Contact:
Lorraine Carter Adv. Dip. Des. DIT, MMII, MIDI, MICAD
Persona Design
Branding & Design Specialists

E: brand@personadesign.ie
T: +353 1 8322724
http://www.personadesign.ie

About the Author

Lorraine Carter Adv. Dip. Des., MMII, MIDI, ICAD is MD of Persona Design an award winning, multi-disciplinary brand design company helping their clients make strong connections with their customers through their brands.

With over 20 years of fantastic experience they’ve worked with brands from a multitude of sectors for both the national and international markets, many of which are household names e.g. Cater Hire Ireland, Castle Brands Inc., Chivers, Clonarn Clover, Connemara Seafoods, Country Crest, GAA, Maguire & Paterson / Cara Matches, McConnell’s Gourmet Smoked Foods, Nestlé Ireland, SHS Sales & Marketing, Wavin Ireland and Zed Candy to name a few.

Lorraine works with her clients to make their brands the most profitable 1st choice in their target markets. A winner of numerous design awards she’s also a former winner of Business Woman of the Year, Dublin

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One Comment

  1. 1.

    Ivy Sandler

    Good writeup. Look forward to future posts.

    Sunday 9th October 2011, 11:47 am

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