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It's all in the creative brief

4th March 2014

4-minutes read

The creative brief holds together any design project. A good brief leads to a good result so let’s focus on some key points that should be included in any creative brief.

Proposition

The proposition describes the single idea or thought that the design should communicate.

What is the benefit of your service or product? "We deliver next day" is not a benefit: you need to go a stage further - what is the benefit of next day delivery? Be specific: the more targeted the message, the powerful it becomes.

Tone of voice

How do you want your marketing material to sound?

Reassuring? Informal? Helpful? Does your target audience want guarantees? Or are they turned off by too much detail? Although this section is often dictated by the nature of your business, don’t confuse who you are with who you target. Tone of voice can come down to subtle variations in copy or visual cues such as font choices and colours.

Target market

Think specifically about the person targeted by the media you’re designing.

Don’t describe your target market as "women aged 20 - 50" as this is too vague. Go into more detail and consider income, marital status, occupation, education, personal tastes, attitudes and buying habits. Are they Waitrose or Aldi shoppers, for example? Would they use public transport? Would they buy their car from a main dealer or car supermarket? Don’t feel that you’re making a judgement about their behaviour, you’re just trying to understand it better. If you struggle to narrow it down, consider a "primary" and "secondary" target market but make sure they don’t conflict.

Product / service positioning

Every organisation has a specific market position.

Homebase targets a softer market than B&Q, for example. While both stores stock similar products, Homebase concentrates more on the "finishing touches" and aims at a more female market than B&Q. A good way to work out your market position is to list words that describe your core values... and be specific!

Call to action

Every design needs a call to action. Do you want customers to call a phone number? Or visit a website? Or pick up a leaflet?

Think carefully about what you sell and the media you use. If you’re a service business, perhaps a sales appointment is the right outcome? For product businesses, a sale might be too much of a commitment: should you encourage your would-be customer to visit your showroom, which is a tentative step towards an order? However you want your customers to interact, remember to include details that make interaction easier: "Free Parking", "Freephone number", "Open 7-days a week" etc.

Budget

Explain to your designer how much you want to invest in your project. Being clear and honest up front helps your designer answer your brief in the best way without exceeding your limits.

There’s no point getting a response to the brief from your designer only to find that it’s way beyond budget - that’s a frustrating outcome for client and designer alike!

A well written creative brief is the key to any successful design project and you should invest time and thought getting it right. The better your designer understands your requirements, the better the results.

Mark Wilde

Mark Wilde

Creative Director

Mark Wilde

About the author

This article was written in March 2014 by Mark Wilde, Creative Director at Rubiqa.

Having worked in the design industry since 2000, Mark understands that creativity is as much about achieving tangible business results as it is about generating original creative ideas. His work always has a strong commercial focus and in the years of being a Creative Director at Rubiqa, he knows how to achieve the best results from our clients' investments. Mark's expertise crosses many disciplines including digital, brand development, editorial, advertising, and packaging design. Away from work, he's interested in electronic music production, travelling and learning piano.

Connect with Mark Wilde on LinkedIn

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