Every great project or campaign should start with a great design brief. But this is not always the case. Over the years, we’ve seen some brilliant briefs and some not-so-brilliant briefs. Every project aims for success and by putting the right brief and processes in place at the start, it should ensure a successful outcome.
A vague brief full of irrelevant information will result in frustrated designers trying to work out what it is that a client wants and what their ultimate goal is. Being clear about your aims and objectives at the outset will result in a more effective use of your time as well as your designer.
So, what does a great brief look like? It’s actually really straightforward. And by putting in the time at the start to create a great brief, it will without doubt, save you time in the long run. A design brief is a top-level overview of the project, that can be used to help understand more about your business and your longer-term plans.
Here’s our top tips for writing a brief your design agency will love you for.
Before you start writing, break the document down into bite-sized chunks. It will make it far more manageable and digestible for the reader. The briefs we love getting always include the following;
Background information is invaluable to a designer. Like the starting point in any relationship, it’s important to tell your story. In this case, it’s the story of your brand. What makes your brand great? Writing with passion about your business or brand, will inspire a creative. Tell them about the challenges you face, the opportunities in your industry and who your customers are. If this is a brief going to several agencies, don’t assume they will know all about your business and your industry, they need to hear from you what your strategy is, what your brand essence is and what gives you a competitive edge in the marketplace.
It sounds ridiculous but it’s imperative you state what the objective of the design work is. Generally, when a design brief is created it’s because a business is trying to make an improvement – whether it’s attracting new customers or altering the behaviour of existing customers.
What are your goals? Again, it can be very simple – a brand refresh to help you stand out from your competitors for example. It gives a designer a focus to work on as well as being a key measurable in the success of a campaign. Remember to include what you are hoping to achieve with this campaign so that everyone is on the same page.
So, you’ve talked about the objectives of your project however, you need to share the challenges you face as a business. Think of the designer as the problem-solver in your team.
Share current industry information, statistics and trends. Include your key competitors. By identifying your competitors, an agency can then research them and gain an understanding of who they are.
What is the challenge that you’re facing? Why do you need a new website? Have you launched a new online product that isn’t converting into sales? Why not?
‘Why’ is a question that we ask a lot as designers. It is here that often a brief can become fluid. An agency should challenge you on your particular problem. By asking ‘why’ it keeps you focussed on the issue at hand as well as helping you to consider wider issues that may impact what you’re trying to achieve. Be open to suggestions and remember your brief isn’t set in stone.
Share as much customer data as you can. How does your customer behave? What is the demographic of your customers base? Who is your ideal customer? Ideally, you’ll have a customer persona that gives the designer a clear picture of who they are appealing to visually. Depending on the project, it may be worth running customer focus groups prior to issuing a design brief so that you have a clear idea of perception, what feedback your customers have and what they want.
If you have brand guidelines, include them with your brief. Sending an agency off to work on a project without giving them guidance on your brand is a waste of everyone’s time. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have flexibility when designing but if there are specific colours or fonts that must be used, tell them at the start. Additionally, if there’s a particular approach or idea that you have, tell them. By sharing an idea or a bit of design inspiration at the start, they can include or discount it in their design approach.
Very often we get requests for projects to be completed in a very short timescale. We’ll always try and work with our clients to get their project completed on time but it’s important that you’re realistic with timescales depending on the level of the project. If you’re looking for a full rebrand within 4 weeks, it’s unlikely to happen. A good agency will work with you to set timescale parameters so no one is left feeling frustrated or disappointed.
Different projects take different amounts of time. But if it’s a job worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. Dedicating the time and resource at the start will help manage expectations. Make sure that you share any date sensitive information – i.e. is there a particular event or launch that it needs to be ready for. If that’s shared at the start, a clear timetable can be implemented. But remember to be realistic about internal sign off too!
“We don’t really have a budget, but if you quote then we can tell you whether it’s too expensive or not” or “But if I give you a budget you’ll spend it all”…. Are just some of the statements we’ve heard over the years. Ultimately good design work costs money.
The cost is dependent on the scope of the project. It’s up to you to use your budget to maximum effect and decide what is a priority in your overall marketing strategy. Once you’ve decided what you can allocate to a particular project, share it with the agency. As well as giving them an idea of how to manage that budget to get the best out of your project, it also builds trust in your relationship.
If you’re working with a new agency, take the time to introduce key members of the team who will be working on the project and those that are responsible for sign off.
Ideally, you will send the brief in advance then follow up with a face to face meeting where any challenges or questions can be raised. It may be a time-consuming meeting, but it will help iron out any potential issues. More often than not, in these meetings, there are small nuggets of information shared that you may think are trivial but are invaluable to a designer.
A design brief is a vital communication tool between yourself and your agency. Taking the time to write a brief will focus your thoughts on what you want to achieve as well as making it easier for a designer to digest. A great brief is creative fuel which will result in great design.
If you have a design brief that you would like to discuss, then get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
It started with BetaMax and VHS. Remember them? Fancy machine with a black cassette that you carefully marked with a black marker to make sure no one recorded over your recording. And now we video on our phones and upload to websites. No video rental stores here.
Collaboration - the action of working with someone to produce something.
cooperation • alliance • partnership • participation • combination • association • concert • teamwork • joint effort • working together
There’s new ‘c’ word this season… Collaboration. From fashion to medicine, customers are realising collaboration is the way forward.
Rather like the important ‘c’s’ when looking at diamonds, collaboration has it’s own ones. They are the basis for any good...
Winner of the Luxury Chocolate Easter Egg Announced. Thank you to everyone who entered our Easter Egg Hunt. For those of you that were struggling to find all 6, we can reveal that they were on the following pages...
So we’ve said ‘so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye’ to 2020 and we’re now staring down 2021. There has been a sea change in marketing activity, with businesses across the globe embracing digital like never before.
Brand love – is that really a thing? Think Coca-Cola vs Pepsi, Android vs Apple. There’s some hardcore loving from some of their customers. But those brands have spent a long time creating the fundamental requirements for a relationship – trust, loyalty and respect.
“A logo? Why do I need to pay a designer to create a logo? It only takes 5 minutes. I can save money and do it myself”
Yikes! We’ve heard this a lot over the years. Just as well we’re not sensitive souls here at Platinum HQ...
The EIE (Engage, Invest, Exploit) virtual conference took place in October this year. As a key sponsor, MBM Commercial is there to help businesses grow. We worked with the team including Managing Partner Stuart Hendry to create a video, discussing the importance, now more than ever...
A 404?! It’s the page your server displays when it can’t find the URL requested by the user. It used to be the stuff of nightmares. We would throw our hand up in horror then re-direct people to the homepage. Surely that’s how we deal with it? Actually no. That’s the opposite of...
Launching a website is always an exciting time. You’ve put in all the hard work – now you get to show it off to the world and start receiving visitors.
However, it can also be a stressful time. How do you know that you haven’t forgotten something important?
With over twenty years in the jewellery business, Clare Blatherwick is one of the most experienced jewellery professionals in Scotland. Before launching her business in 2017, Clare spent 10 years as Head of Jewellery in Scotland for Bonhams, one of the world’s largest auctioneers.
Video production has often been perceived as an expensive marketing communication. However, video content can be created in your living room (and may well be until we get back into office life!). Think about YouTube and podcasting – these are easily created and uploaded.
B2B – Back 2 Business? But not as we know it. These last few months have taken their toll on industries across the globe. But many businesses have taken the opportunity to take a step back and review, reset and recharge their marketing activity.
A year is a long time in politics apparently. But it’s also a long time in terms of websites.
If your website is anything over one year old, then it definitely needs refreshed. If it’s over 2-3 years old, it may well need revamped entirely.
Who remembers Google's logo before 2015? Really? Animation was starting to creep into marketing and in 2015 Google introduced its new animated logo marking the beginning of a shift change in online branding. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the use of animation.
‘Old’. It’s not a particularly positive word. Old, irrelevant, out of date. We’re always looking for newer, better, faster. But what if we stop for a minute and consider ‘old’. When it comes to content, old isn’t always bad. It just needs repurposed and refreshed.
18! That means we’re grown-ups now right? We like to think of it more that we started out as a fledgling business and we have matured and evolved over the last 18 years. It’s been a great journey so far – in fact, we still have our first client that came on board 18 years ago.
Well this has been an interesting / challenging / what just happened (delete as appropriate!) few months…
But we are seeing a glimmer of light of what we think is the new normal.
Hands up who’s heard of Albert Mehrabian? To be honest, neither had we until we started looking into various types of communication.
Content is king we are always told. Luther Vandross would tell you there’s ‘Never too much’… although maybe he wasn’t actually talking about content.
Pandemic. Global crisis. Self-isolation. These are powerful words. We’re in unprecedented times. However, in these challenging times, we are seeing great human spirit and positivity. This is what we need to focus on. Helping each other until we get through this.
Don’t panic, we’re not channelling ABBA. Well, not today anyway.
We were recently approached by a new client, looking to change their company name. Ooh that’s a bit risky we hear you gasp. Well yes. And no.
Blue. It features a lot in all walks of life – eyes, sky, sea, shoes, feelings to name a few. It’s uplifting in a calming way. Your choice of colour is connected to how that colour makes you feel and can impact many of your purchasing decisions, without you even really realising.
Bruce Stevenson has been one of our longest standing clients and we have evolved the look and feel of the business over the last 8 years.
Having created and implemented a brand refresh in 2018, it was time to update the corporate brochure to reflect the...
You’ll know by now that Team PC love a stat – and the bigger the numbers the better. So here goes…
By 2023, there will be an estimated 4.3 billion global email users, according to Statista. That’s a lot of users. It won’t surprise you then, that with that...
All we’re hearing today is about blue Monday and how it’s the most depressing day of the year. Pah!
Based on ‘cool blue’ being the pantone colour of the year we’ve decided to sack off the connotations of blue Monday being depressing. Here at Platinum HQ...
We were approached by this family run paint and wood finishes company based in Glasgow. The business started out 1877 as a producer of the highest quality of wood finishes. It has since evolved and is also now a commercial paint supplier.
As we head towards 2020, we look to continually evolve the business and embrace best practice. As such we have been looking at our approach to sustainability and our recommendations to clients on ‘environmentally friendly’ projects. Some of our clients have...
We’ve talked about the value of investing in a slick, user friendly website. But looks aren’t everything. Scratch the surface and you may find that underneath, your site isn’t as good as it looks. What you wanted to create was a site that engaged visitors but how do they find you in the first place?
Ooh we love typography! It lifts a brand and gives it a simple but modern look and feel. Using a simple typography in design then lends itself to being decorated with a host of creative elements. Known as artistic typography, this trend is expected to flourish in 2020.
Have pen, will travel. Think about it, how many times have you been given a pen by a supplier or client? Or how many times have you inadvertently picked up a pen and popped it in your pocket after using it? Not in a kleptomaniac sort of a way – but more as it’s an automatic reaction.
“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice”
Anton Chekhov must have known a thing or two about knowledge graph panels. Or maybe the 19th century was a bit early…
We find that many of our clients aren’t...
Not Duran Duran. But content, a necessary but difficult part of website creation and management. Your website needs it, but how do you get it, who writes it, and how much do you really need?
You may have noticed in our last insights article that we shared our love of print. We’ve spent years understanding the process of print and learning more about finishes and stocks. But, for the uninitiated, it can be daunting to try and work out what print will work best for your project.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that print is a dying industry.
We can all hark back to the days when direct mail became the scourge of marketing. Customers were overwhelmed by the amount of ‘junk mail’ they received through their letterboxes or in...
It’s been over 40 years since the first email was sent. No one could have predicted the effect this would have on the way we work. Email marketing exploded in the mid-nineties and it remains one of the most effective ways to engage with, and generate revenue from your customers...
Easter egg hunts are always fun. Being on the hunt for, or managing, several agencies to work together is definitely not fun.
The advent of digital saw many clients start to work with separate creative, design, advertising, marketing and digital agencies. There has been much...
The explosion of websites in the mid-noughties was unlike any other marketing initiative we had seen. At the end of 2018 there were a reported 1.8 billion websites in the world. Of these, less than 200million are active.
Here at Platinum HQ there’s a lot of things we love. Cake, a cold beer on a sunny day, more cake.
But we’ve always also been firm believers in loving what we do. For over 16 years we’ve spent time crafting great design and it’s been fantastic.
Founded in Edinburgh in 2003 by Nigel Kennedy, Appetite Events has grown in size and reputation, developing into a business with a wealth of experience and a depth of knowledge essential to running a successful events company.
A rather famous brand campaign once said ‘Good things come to those who wait’. But as a generation of time-poor individuals wanting the best results in the shortest time possible, patience isn’t really top of our agenda. It’s a bit like baking a cake for half the required time and expecting...
A lot has happened over the last 130 years – not least the creation and evolution of St. Georges School in Edinburgh. From their humble beginnings in Melville Street with only 50 pupils to the present site at Murrayfield with both domestic and international students, the school has...
Suits you! We were approached earlier in the year to ask if we would work with Andrew Brookes Tailoring to help raise the profile of the brand in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. We were lucky enough that they’d seen our work and really liked it.
By Royal appointment (sort of!) The Royal Collection Trust (RCT) planned to refurbish and restore various buildings within the grounds of the Palace of Holyrood House. They needed to ensure there would be minimum disruption and inconvenience to the general public and the Royal Family...
We were approached by The University of Edinburgh to design and produce a series of wall graphics to display within the newly refurbished Estates & Buildings department and the end results were very impressive.
Up to the ceiling that is. We were commissioned to help restore the lovely illustrations that surround the ceiling within the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Vaults, Edinburgh). Unfortunately the beautiful illustrations that had been created by Bob Dewar...
Design isn’t just about your logo or how you decorate your office, it’s a way of thinking and allowing your business to thrive, creating new products and developing relationships with new customers.
Too many of us follow the crowd. We stick to the rules. We conform.
Yet, we know that creativity makes the difference between a mediocre business and a great one. The difference between success and failure.