I've extolled the virtues of having a good creative brief before. But there is one thing that can render any creative brief useless. What can do this is poor or inaccurate information. Poor information is not caused by laziness. It's something that happens when a co-worker or client doesn't always communicate what the designer really needs to hear. And sometimes designers make assumptions based simply on what this person said.
Here are 4 steps to help avoid getting poor information and to help you produce a great creative brief:
- The initial step is to provide a barrier like a brief form or questionnaire. This helps prequalify serious inquiries and to distinguish them from those who aren't sure of what they want, but want you to figure it out.
You don't need a lot of information at this stage. You need just enough to understand where the person is coming from. And if you ask good strategic questions, it should lead to progressively more detailed information later on.
- After the initial information-gathering phase, consider having some sort of informal meeting. And be prepared with questions before your meeting to get more details a short form cannot provide, and to understand the motivations for the project. This meeting can be a face-to-face, phone, or email discussion.
The most effective, in my opinion, is face-to-face. This is important because you need to understand how the co-worker or client really feels about the information they provided, and to tease out information they aren't thinking about. When you can see (often through body language) how they feel about their answers — whether passionate, unsure, or uncomfortable — it will direct how you think about their answers, and suggest better follow-up questions.
- Do the research. Be open to discover items that you and your client may have missed. As you find out more information, develop a lot of follow-up questions to ask your co-worker or client. Find out if your findings will impact the project in any way.
- Last, but not least, develop your strategy in your creative brief. And present it to your co-worker or client for agreement. When both of you agree that you understand each other, you have a good basis to which to start.
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