If your business is going to be working with a design agency, use these simple steps to write a brief that will keep everyone happy!

Step 1 – The clue is in the name 'brief'.

Keep the brief, brief. Ideally this should be limited to a single side of A4 to help inspire your agency. The smaller the brief the more freedom you allow for creativity. All the necessary research and details can be looked at later but these are not relevant during the initial creative process. There have been some great 'brief' briefs with superb results over the years. For example, Heineken briefed its designers for a new campaign and used only one word: 'Refreshing'. This inspired countless ideas helping to build the brand as one of the most loved lagers in the world. Coca-Cola famously asked its bottle designers to create a bottle that could be instantly recognised in the dark/with your eyes closed. The iconic bottle looks the same today as it has always done and is still thought of as a design classic. If you have the right agency, simple briefs will produce great results. It is often difficult to make the brief this succinct but if you can then you are at the core of what you're trying to achieve so the designs will better reflect your values and key messages.

Step 2- Keep an open mind.

It never helps when clients state they want their brand to look like Apple, BMW Mini or whoever is currently "trendy" or "cool". Saying this will simply give you a generic response of: "You're not Apple, why would you want to copy them?" and heavily hamper creativity. Remember, your brand is your brand. Let the designers creativity run freely to solve your brief as opposed to rehashing a famous design to make your company look like a pale imitation of an established brand.

Step 3 - Meet the designer.

The people actually designing the project will interpret a brief differently to account handlers, sales teams, marketing departments etc. They simply think differently. If they're worth their salt then they will be able to read through the lines of what it is you want to be achieved. Let them question your assumptions and ideas as they may suggest a completely different route to what you thought you wanted which could lead to an even better result. A good Design Agency allow direct access to the designers who will be working on your project.

Step 4 - Get involved.

When your designer presents their initial designs be prepared to ask questions, give feedback and make suggestions. The more input a designer gets from you, the more they know about what you do and what you are trying to achieve ending up with greater results. Don't forget you know more about your product than the designer and they have to learn. Share your passion and knowledge and you will be more inspiring than you think.

Step 5 - Live with the designs.

Once you have been presented with the designs, give them time to breathe. Put them on a wall in your office or at home. After a few days some routes will feel right and some will feel wrong. It's often right to go with your gut feeling. Often what you had envisioned at the start will be different to what you can imagine now, that is all part of the creative process and keeping an open mind (step 2). The more unusual/unexpected routes can take a while to get used especially if they're far from what you had requested but don't dismiss these straight away. Once you have taken time to reflect and are comfortable with the proposed solution you will be able to work with your designer and develop designs that are tailor-made for you.

Article by Peter McGlynn of Solution Group.

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