writing a creative brief
We get all kinds of enquiries, from the formal tender document that resembles an income tax return to a phone call that starts with “We need some help.” We are used receiving new design briefs of all kinds and it’s our job to make sense of them and respond.
On first sight of a brief, we need to get to grips with the design problem and the kind of solutions needed. We want to get a feel for the overall scale of the task and a sense of the kind of processes it will envolve.
Ideally, the brief should engage our creative team in the forthcoming challenge and get their brains whirring, but at the same time clearly lay out your requirements so that we can provide you with a suggested schedule and estimate of costs. While it takes a bit of time to develop a solid creative brief, it’ll be well worth it to help meet your expectations and business needs.
Here are a few steps to follow:
1. Describe your company Provide context and background information on your company or organisation to help us get a better understanding of your business. Who are you and what services and/or products do you offer? Include links to your website and any other background material that might be helpful. Over time we get to know out clients, their preferences and their requirments better and better which makes the design process speedier more efficent.
2. Summarise the project What is the project and why do you need it? Is it to be targeted with print or digital media? Describe what the project is, what it entails, and why you’re doing it.
3. Explain your objectives This is an important part of the brief and it’s essential that you think through your strategy and objectives before you get the project underway. What are you hoping to achieve with this project and what are your goals? Is there a problem you’re trying to solve and how will you measure success? These details will help us understand your goals and come up with solutions that address them.
4. Define your target audience Let us know who you are trying to reach with this project or campaign? Share demographic information about who they are and any behavioral insights you may have on them.
5. Outline the items you need Outline the items you expect to receive upon completion? List the printed products and quantities you need as well as the digital files required and be sure to include the file formats too (i.e., JPG, PNG, PSD), size information (i.e., 300×250 pixels), and any other important details needed to deliver the right assets.
6. Identify your competition Who are your competitors? You may want to include an overview of the competitive landscape and any trends or market conditions impacting your industry. For this project, what are your competitors doing as a point of comparison and as a point of differentiation? These details can greatly help guide the direction the design will take. You can also include a few examples of designs you like or don’t like.
7. Include details on the tone, message, and style The style and tone should be consistent with your brand and will also hinge on what the project is, what you’re trying to achieve, and what action you want your target audience to take. To help inform the messaging and ensure it aligns with your objectives, be sure to include your strategic positioning and the key messages that need to be addressed.
If you have a brand style guide or examples of past campaigns or related projects, be sure to share them with us and also provide any relevant logos, images or text.
8. Provide a schedule If you have a timeline in mind for your project, include it in the brief. During your initial conversations with us, make sure to discuss the timeline and agree upon a completion date. It’s also a good idea to talk about the overall creative process and discuss the process of edits and any approvel from third parties which may effect the delivery.
9. Specify your budget If you have a set budget for the project include it in the brief and discuss it with us. If our estimate exceeds your budget we can talk it over and agree upon realistic expectations and project costs before getting started.
10. List the key stakeholders If other people on your team or within your organisation need to be included in the review process, provide their contact information.
Let's talk it through There is no substitute for a face-to-face briefing. Tone and anecdotes all communicate volumes about the real issues over and above any written document. The commissioning process is as much about the chemistry as it is about anything else.
size does matter
Prior to the introduction of the ISO standard in 1959, imperial paper sizes were widely used in the uk. Today however, the A and B series of ISO 216, which includes the commonly used A4 size, are the international standard used by almost every country with the notable exception of the Americas.
Starting from A0, all subsequent A paper sizes are determined by halving the paper on its longest size. A0 halves to become A1, which halves to become A2, all the way down to A10. The length of the smaller size is always equal to the width of the larger size. For example, the length of A4 is 297mm which is also the width of A3. The most common paper sizes for promotional material are:
Perhaps the most popular of all paper sizes when it comes to creating a document is A4. A4 is the most used paper size in the world and a format and size that consumers are familiar with. The dimensions of an A4 page are 297mm high x 210mm wide (11.69 inches x 8.27 inches).
If A4 is the most popular size of brochure then A5 is a popular runner up. An A5 brochure is A4 pages folded and is a much more compact brochure that allows you to prioritise your information to provide the most important details to your customers. It does however provide you with enough space to get creative, especially if you are using it as a brochure to showcase products or images. An A5 page has dimensions of 210mm high x 148mm wide as the ISO standard rounds the measurements to the nearest millimeter.
Another increasingly popular page size for documents is DL. The term DL actually refers to the DL Envelope size which is 110mm x 220mm. So typically, when people say they want a DL Flyer, they actually need a flyer that will insert into a DL Envelope. The correct term for this is 1/3 of an A4 which is 99mm x 210mm. 1/3 A4 size is extremely popular for creating direct mail campaigns and would often consist of an A4 sheet folded twice to have six sides.
The folds could either be a Concertina fold which has two parallel folds in different directions to create an accordion effect, or a Roll fold, this is where the right-hand page is folded inwards and then folded in again. As each page has to be progressively smaller than the previous so the section widths are usually 100mm, 99mm and 98mm.
The terms portrait and landscape refer to different orientations of the paper, whether it is oriented vertically or horizontally. A page with portrait orientation, typical for letters, memos, and other text documents, is taller than it is wide.
Paper weight is the density of a paper product, that is its mass per unit of area, this is norally expressed as grams per square meter (g/m2). The most common paper weight uses are:
80 – 100 g/m2: This is the general weight of standard office paper.
110 – 120 g/m2: This weight is usually used with stationary paper for things such as letterheads and compliment slips.
130 – 170 g/m2: Heavier, more durable paper usually used for posters, leaflets, flyers and pages inside a brochure.
170 – 200 g/m2: This is the midway point between paper and card. It can be used for brochure covers and is great when used for more luxurious posters or quality double sided flyers.
200 – 250 g/m2: This paper weight is the starting point of heavier card (board) and can add a quality finish to a brochure if used as a cover.
300 – 400 g/m2: Anything over 300gsm falls into the board category and this is usually the weight at which business card’s start. Board can be used as a cover for documents but it’s important to remember the printing, stitching and folding implications of using heavy board as a cover.
Paper thickness, or the caliper is measured and specified separately and is usually measured in micrometres (µm).
Prior to 1845, hand-made envelopes were all that were available for use, both commercial and domestic. In 1845, Edwin Hill and Warren De La Rue were granted a British patent for the first envelope-making machine. It was 1876 before a commercially successful machine for producing pre-gummed envelopes, like those in use today, appeared and in 1902 the window envelope was developed to help save time and labor from addressing them by hand.
International standard ISO 269 (since withdrawn) defined several standard envelope sizes, which are designed for use with ISO 216 standard paper sizes.