Saturday, December 13, 2008

When Graphic Design Creative Briefs Go Bad

Last time, I mentioned the positives of graphic design creative briefs and how to create them. However, with anything in this world, creative briefs are not fool-proof. As mentioned before, there will be times when you may find that something just wasn't anticipated fully, you forgot an important detail, or that a disagreement comes up regardless of what the brief says. Let's talk about what to do when these things happen.

Poor planning can sabotage good intentions.

Okay, there are times when the blame is primarily on the designer. I forget certain details from time to time, and you do to. No one is perfect. But with experience we can minimize our mistakes. One of the most commonly overlooked mistake is to not get all the information.

We may get an idea from the client about their target audience. But we really don't know why the client's message should appeal to them, or what they want their audience to do. Also, we designers may understand the clients problem, but fail to ask whether the chosen solution is what they really need.

What can often happen as a result is that the client may not accept my solutions, because there is information my client has that I don't have. We can go round and round, unless I anticipate this.

So, a great way to avoid this embarrassment is to create a form that you can use with clients to get the information you need on a consistent basis. And learn to ask questions that get you less tangible information that your client isn't thinking about, but you need. For example, a client may need a brochure that sells a particular product to business women. As a designer, I may know that business women can be pretty broad demographic, so I would include questions such as, "What emotion should this brochure convey, and why?" and, "What type of business woman will be moved by this message?"

The way a client answers these questions will alert me as to who the client thinks is their audience, and what would appeal to their audience. And I would go on from there. But, do not make the mistake of substituting a form for direct client interaction. I have found that some information is hard to articulate for most clients, and they need some coaching.

But lets say you prepared a great creative brief. You've asked good questions, have had good conversations with the client, have anticipated all the factors bearing on the creative process, and have the client's signature and approval on the design direction. But, for some reason the client still doesn't like any solutions. What do you do when the client ignores the brief they agreed to and want something totally different?

We'll tackle that beast later.

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