What makes the perfect design brief?

To be successful and stand out in a crowded market place all brands need a strong visual identity and web presence – and that’s especially true with start-ups.

So it’s vital the designer understands the personality of your business and getting the design brief right is the first step.

We receive a variety of briefs here at Jackdaw Design. Some potential clients email us saying: ‘I’ve been told my brand and packaging needs some work’ or ‘I think I need help’, whereas others prefer to do a brief over the phone.

That’s not to say there’s only one way of briefing your designer – it should always come down to what makes you comfortable. But there are some rules of thumb that will ensure you get the most out of that first approach and Jackdaw is here to help!

On receiving your brief an agency will start to understand the design challenges and opportunities you’re facing, and what brainpower and deliverables are needed. Having a feel for the scale of the project and a sense of the journey it will entail helps them to determine their fit and capacity for the job.

By focusing your creative brief in three areas: context, opportunity and deliverables your designer can gauge how best to respond to you.

A guide to briefing your design agency

1) Context

What’s the story of your business so far? Is there a unique element within your story that you can focus on? It’s really valuable to share with your agency the qualities and attributes that make your brand engaging and unique.

Are you the market leader or do you want to be? Specifics you may like to include could be your market position compared to your competitors, your USP, or your market aims and marketing strategy.

And of course, it’s essential to let your agency know who the target market is. Creating a profile in terms of age, gender, occupation, location etc, of your customer, and clearly setting out your target market, will assist your agency in creating stronger, more appropriate, branding.

2) The opportunity

Why are you looking to work with a designer now? What does a successful outcome look like?

In this part of the brief you can set out what is it you’re hoping to achieve, explaining the obstacles are you facing, or the opportunity you’re hoping to exploit. Perhaps you are aiming to promote the business, better communicate your offering, appeal to a new audience, or reposition your brand?

3) Deliverables

It’s in everyone’s interest that requirements, timetables and deadlines are clearly stated from the outset, avoiding problems later down the line. Specify what it is you are expecting at the end of the job, e.g. packaging design, a website, printed brochures, etc. If materials are needed for a conference, presentation or a product launch, it’s important that everyone works to an agreed date.

The benefits of a clear brief

Design briefs can be ineffective if they’re simply too vague. So try to avoid describing target audiences as ‘everyone’ or defining your differentiator as ‘good quality’ by being more specific and providing more details.

Don’t be put off if you don’t clearly know what the problem is or exactly who you’re targeting, it could just be that you need to undertake further research or focus more on your strategy.

At Jackdaw Design, we recently conducted a workshop style meeting with a client who had started up a tea company but wasn’t really sure if their current branding was effective. During our session together we explored where they want their brand to be in 3 years, and how design could help them get there. We looked at target customers and how to reach them as well reviewing the competitors – what the competition does well and where is the gap in the market? Through a process of research and immersion, Jackdaw worked closely with the client to pinpoint what makes their business unique and where to position their brand to tell their story. This led to a fresh, new way forward to help them stand out from the crowd. The outcome of the workshop stage was a brand portrait that became a benchmark to judge the designs in the next phase of the project. The resulting design concepts were on-point, the final outcome was a carefully thought-out logo and identity and the client was delighted. “The brand focus workshops with Amanda were a shed load of fun, but much more, my ideas laid out, explored, compared and wonderfully packaged. What came from that was more than just design it solidified my next business steps”, Nicola Greenwood.

When it comes to briefing your design agency, it’s worth putting in the effort. Great design contributes to business growth, and a good brief will make sure you get the most from your investment.

Whether you have a clear idea on your positioning and story, or feel you might benefit from more thought before starting any creative concepting, Jackdaw can guide you in the right direction.