Hi, I’m Maddy Russell. This bi-monthly newsletter is where I share insights into how to build a brand that feels like home - with thought, heart and courage. Plus updates about things I’m working on behind the scenes and the brilliant people I’m collaborating with. Thanks for reading 💛
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A brief is a boomerang that should keep coming back to you
This month I sent the second stages of design concepts over to a client. This means that the overarching concept for the creative has been signed off, the look and feel of the visual identity has been approved, and we are now onto developing the visuals to a more refined and finished state.
But before I sent off the presentation of the design development, I reread the brief that I wrote at the start of the project.
You might wonder why, at this late stage of a project would you re-read the brief, when the design has already been signed off and is into the later stages of development?
I believe that briefs are like boomerangs. Throughout a project they should keep coming back to you over and over and over again.
You can’t just throw a brief out into the world and expect it to hit the target first time. You must throw it and catch it, throw it and catch it, and repeat until it hits.
Sometimes a brief is written, or delivered by a client simply as a tickbox exercise designed to make people feel as if they have started a project off “properly.” It then oftentimes gets ignored, filed away and forgotten about. It might get pulled out of the drawer at the end of the project, only for you to realise that the original vision has gone off track.
Ignore. Deny. Tentatively lock it back in the draw, never to be looked at again.
The thing about boomerangs is that they were traditionally used for hunting and killing animals for food. But the key takeaway here in relation to the briefing process is that if written well, a brief is something that acts as a tool for you to go hunting for solutions to the problem you are trying to solve. Think of the brief as a secret weapon for hunting down ideas. Not just a Google Doc that will never again see the light of day.
Next time you have a creative project on, write a brief - a good one (tips on this below), grab it firmly and throw it out into the world and go hunting for the solution - it is out there. Sometimes you have to wade through the wilderness - it can feel like an empty and lonely creative abyss at times, but the solution is out there somewhere. You just have to take the time to revisit the brief time and time again for the right idea to bounce back and into your hands.
Here are 5 things that should be included within any creative design brief:
Project roles - If you are working with a bigger team than just yourself, define who the creative team is behind the project. For example: the project manager, the client, and any suppliers you are working with
Background to the project - Why you have been tasked with this project, the background to why the client requires your services and any relevant detail on the brand or organisation you are working with
An outline of the project - What does the project entail, what problem is it trying to solve?
Objectives of the project - What is the purpose of the project? What would make it successful and how can you measure its success?
Deliverables and specs- Is it an A4 2-sided flyer, or a branding project that includes: A logo, colour development, typography selection and photography styling? Details on the end deliverable(s) required including dimensions and formatting are key things to include within a brief.
To summarise, don't just throw the brief out into the world and forget to come back to it. Keep revisiting it over and over again until the right solution lands.
Until next time,
FROM THE DESIGN DESK
💛 This article explores why it's important to apply both empathy and curiosity to branding, and how those of us who embody both are also the most nimble
💪 Erik Messaki shares a list of quotes to inspire you to have the confidence to think more and design less, helping you to work more mindfully. My personal favourite:
“Every great design begins with an even better story” - Lorinda Mamo
📚 This book is the best thing I've read relating to design and marketing in a long time. I am an avid highlighter and underliner of books and safe to say this one is full of my scribbles. It explores the themes of problem-solving, the importance of context in understanding where your ideas fit into the world, and the power of doing one thing really well
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