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Eight Strategies for a more inspiring design brief

Posted by: Steve Leder on July 26, 2011

Recently I was in a very important meeting, in front of very important clients, talking about very important things, when the client asked a question that made me feel very uncomfortable.

I wasn't uncomfortable because I was unprepared, didn't know anything about the topic, or didn't know how to answer the question. In fact, I knew exactly how to answer it. So what was the source of my discomfort? Quite simply, an honest answer risked insulting this important client…indeed, every client I had ever worked with over the course of my career. The question? ''What is an example of a good design brief I had seen?''

Truth is I've never seen a good design brief. Why? Design briefs are typically about quantifying marketing or sales results, not about inspiring design. They dictate how project success will be determined, using measures such as:

  • Contribute to overall 3% to 5% net sales growth in 2011-2012
  • Package must rate < 9% inaccurate identification on findability exercise
  • Average find time must be less than 10 seconds
  • Grow share within secondary target by 2% first half of year

This format works great for marketers; not so much for creatives like me. A typical design brief isn't inspiring, doesn't jump-start my creativity, or provide a rallying cry to launch the project. It's a document spelling out black-and-white success criteria when I'm living in a blue-sky world.

Often there's a disconnect between the type of information that client brand managers and marketers want to see in a design brief to help quantify success and the type of information that agency creatives want to see to help inspire the design process. So what's the solution?  I suggest it's time to redesign the design brief.

Read the rest of this article in Shelf Impact.

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